As it happened: Budget 2012 liveblog

Join us for live video and text commentary, as Michael Noonan tells us how he plans to raise €1.6bn in extra taxes next year.

THANKS FOR JOINING our live video and text coverage from Leinster House as Michael Noonan announces measures to raise €1.6 billion in new taxes and other revenue.

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Read: Budget Day (pt 2) – what we know so far

The official Budget 2012 announcement from Finance Minister Michael Noonan doesn’t kick off until 15.45 but we thought we would bring you the serious news first: the colour of Noonan’s tie. It was a spotted wine affair yesterday (see the main pic here) but then again, he wasn’t under the spotlight like Brendan Howlin was.

Today, though, is a different matter. Read ‘Budget Day neckties… just what do they mean?’ to figure out what Noonan is signalling to us by the colour he drapes around his collar today. (We can reliably assume he won’t be wearing his novelty Homer Simpson tie…)

If you’re not so fussed about the tie, catch up with all the Budget 2012 leaks so far today here.

This just in. Noonan’s tie, as caught on RTÉ’s video cameras JUST THIS MINUTE. It’s yellow and stripey. Draw your own conclusions.

Are you watching, Minister Noonan? Julien Behal of Press Association Images spotted this graffiti in the Liberties in Dublin today:

Aoife Barry has asked that we post this video of a fox sticking his tongue out at the Budget 2012 measures. Glad to oblige, Aoife.

Michael Noonan and Enda Kenny have just entered the Dáil chamber…

Michael Noonan has set up his Budget announcement with reference to Ireland being “given back her purse” after the Treaty in the 1920s. Fianna Fáil and the Greens being given the blame for giving away the purse again.

Noonan’s Government colleagues in Labour and Fine Gael have started a good road back to creating jobs and “prudent” management to getting the country back to credibility internationally, he says.

He claims “a gradual recovery” has begun to take hold of the country. “All forecasters agree growth will be significantly stronger in 2013″.

The maintenance of the 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate also being highlighted as an achievement.

Two new schemes being announced:

New Special Assignee Relief Programme to attract jobs here.

Foreign Earnings Deduction will be available where an individual “spends 60 days a year developing markets in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa”, the so-called BRIC countries.

The first €100,000 of R&D development money be allowed in tax credits for the purpose of encouraging this area. Outsourcing arrangements for R&D will be targeted in this and some portion will be allowed to reward key employees in R&D; corporate tax exemption available in 2012, 2013, 2014.

Smaller companies will be able to take advantage of that aforementioned deduction.

On agriculture, he says he will be announcing stamp duty reduction to the transfer of commercial property but also to farmland. He will also  modifying capital gains tax for the transfer of farms before a farmer reaches the age of 66 to get people to hand over their farms earlier rather than later. There will be a stock relief rate to continue to aid farming practices.

He’s standing by the 9 per cent VAT rate on tourism services to encourage growth.

Ryanair and Aer Lingus getting a bit of a swipe for not being quite so co-operative in the Government’s efforts to stoke tourism.

How do you solve a problem like our property crisis? Noonan is musing on what NOT to do, a la construction industry collapse of last few years.

His solution to restore confidence and activity in construction>

Stamp duty to go from 6 per cent to 2 per cent from midnight tonight on commercial property including farmland.

Capital Gains Tax incentive on commercial property from midnight tonight to end 2013 – full break from it if you hold on to the property for seven years.

On upward-only rent reviews – NAMA is telling him that it has a policy guidance that it will publish TODAY. Apparently the policy allows NAMA to intervene when rent shown to be above current market conditions.

Mortgage Interest Relief – for those who bought between 2004-2008, mortgage tax relief to be increased to 30 per cent for first-time buyers who bought in that period.

However, mortgage relief will be not available if you buy after the end of 2012 and it will be fully abolished from 2018.

Buying in 2012? Mortgage rent relief will be available for first-time buyers at 25 per cent; it will be 15 per cent for non first-time buyers from (instead of 10 percent advocated last year).

On mortgage arrears, Noonan says that small-scale investors are more at risk.

A property relief of 5 per cent will be available to those with an annual gross income over €100,000; but the reliefs in Section 23 will not be terminated for those with a gross income under €100,000.

Investors will not be allowed to begin tax reliefs scheme after 1 Jan 2012. Where the tax scheme ends before 2015, no carry forward will be allowed.

The two pillar banks of Ireland have been given lending targets – the hope is that mortgage credit is made available so people can take advantage of the mortgage relief he announced today.

The General Government Deficit for this year will be 10.1 per cent of GDP – this is less than the 10.6 set by troika.

In 2012, the aim will be 8.6 per cent of GDP.

He is announcing €1bn worth of tax measures today.


“Wages and salaries in January will be no lower than wages and salaries in December”: Michael Noonan.
Does this reassure you? Tell us below in the comments section.

He believes income tax and PRSI are taxes on jobs and that indirect taxes (VAT, capital taxes) hurt jobs creation less.

The top 5 per cent of high income earners pay 44 per cent of the tax apparently.

The Universal Social Charge – as a “fairness measure” – will change to “help the low-paid, part-time and seasonal workers”.

From 1 Jan 2012, the exemption bar will be raised from €4,004 to €10,036. This brings 330,000 out of paying the USC.

The USC will be collected on a cumulative basis next year so no possibility of underpayment.

VAT was to be 1 per cent in 2013 and one in 2014 – this increase is all going to be introduced in 2012. But he has vowed that this new 23 per cent rate will not be raised again in the life of this Government.

The 9 per cent VAT on home repairs will remain and central heating fuel will remain at 13.5 per cent.

He is addressing the differential between Northern Ireland and Republic VAT rates – says that at 3 per cent different now, it’s not that bad. He says it was 3.5 per cent of a difference at one point so that he doesn’t expect people to flit off to the North for their shopping. Flit being my word, not Noonan’s naturally.

Capital gains tax raised from 25 to30 per cent

DIRT will go from 27 to 30 per cent

Removal of remaining 50 per cent employer PRSI relief on employee pensions

Increasing the national distribuition on ARFs (pension schemes) to 6 per cent

Increasing the rate of tax on the transfer of an ARF on death of child over 21 from 20 per cent to 30 per cent

Tax exiles will not be able to avoid domicile tax by renouncing their citizenship

On fuels – petrol and diesel carbon tax to go up from €15 to €20 per tonne at midnight tonight – this means increases of around 1.3 cent per litre, before the VAT increase;

tax on other fuels won’t go up until May 2012;

no tax increase on peat/coal/briquettes

VAT exempt on farmers buying and installing wind turbines from 1 January 2012

The €100 household levy for property owners will only apply to certain categories and will be payable in installments. People stuck in ghost estates for example won’t have to pay it.

There will be some change in VRT in terms of those being imported here.

No more tax exemption for first 36 days of occupational absenteeism. Joan Burton is going to bring in measures next year to look at public service absenteeism.

An extra 25 cents is to be brought in on cigarettes – but no extra excise on alcohol although it will be hit by the VAT increase.

Betting intermediaries duty to be brought in.

Now Noonan is reiterating his Goverment’s achievements as they see them – a “refocus on fairness” by reversing the minimum wage cut; the reduction of bailout interest rate; their focus on growth and employment.

He also adds a positive comment on Brian Lenihan to end his Budget announcement.

Michael McGrath, FF’s Finance spokesperson is first to speak in Opposition. He thanks Noonan for the comments on Lenihan and says he remains an “inspiration” to him.

This isn’t Opposition v Government, he says. We all want to give people hope and a better country.

He says that this Government has now accepted responsibility and that they can no longer hide behind the finger-pointing at FF-Green.

Michael McGrath now getting into whether the “difficult choices” made by Noonan, Howlin and co. are the RIGHT decisions.

The EU/IMF didn’t tell this Government to cut child benefit for third child and over/ the relief on medical prescriptions/ on fuel allowance, he says.

McGrath has 40 minutes on the floor by the way. He’s got plenty of time to get the digs in. And here they come… we are the “true republican party” and will not adopt a negative, self-serving and corrosive position in Opposition, says Michael McGrath.

“This is a great country” and we’ll get through the bad times. Says McGrath.

More of what we already know – high unemployment, emigration, families struggling.

But McGrath says that the devil will be in the detail in this Budget – especially for those on social welfare, widows, pensioners of the future.

Michéal Martin is trying to get order for Michael McGrath to speak. “Will ye let somebody speak?”

McGrath says the cuts on young people on disability allowance is profoundly unfair.

On education cuts, Ruairi Quinn (Education Minister) is shaking his head at McGrath’s contention that cuts in his department is going to hurt young people.

Ouch. McGrath hitting the Government where it hurts – in their Jobs Initiative. Says despite its announcement in May 2011, there are more people on the Live Register now than there where when Fine Gael-Labour came into power.

He’s all about the R&D measures though (although says, of course, we in Fianna Fáil had them in our pre-Budget submission too).

He says “long gone is talk of 100,000 new jobs”.

Labour’s Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has told that this Budget announcement shows “big wins on the universal social charge, tax exiles and mortgage relief”.

Back in the Dáil, Michael McGrath is talking about the VAT increases and child benefit cuts, the mortgage interest supplement fund cut (from yesterday), fuel hikes etc. – and using a young family as a case study, says it will hit them by hundreds of euro a month.

Basically, McGrath making the point that it’s all well and good to say that income tax hasn’t been cut and income will be the same in January as it will in December when indirect taxes leave them with so much less in their pocket.

By the way, have you seen Michael Noonan’s speech as pictured in a word cloud? Tax, property, VAT, income and NAMA all feature strongly…

VAT increase is going to affect things that aren’t luxuries says Michael McGrath – mobile and landline charges, car parking, diesel, oil, toothpaste are some of the examples he gives. How is this going to get people back in the shops, buying things again? (Er, McGrath’s question, not mine).

The “uncertainty” on upward-only rent agreements is being highlighted by Michael McGrath – he’s glad that a decision has been made on it (for NAMA to look at it) but says that nine months of lack of clarity has created a stasis in commercial property.

So who has to pay the €100 household charge and where is it headed? McGrath wants to know if a flat tax is really equitable – and if people in mortgage arrears and widows and carers to pay it too.

McGrath is told by Leas Ceann Comhairle that his time is also up.

The whole of Michael Noonan’s Budget 2012 announcement can be read here.

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty has his 40 minutes now. He doesn’t want “shouting from the sidelines”. He says his party’s “costed” Budget submission had many good choices but that this Government has “promised much/delivered little”.

Entrepreneurship is alive and well at the Petit Café on Kildare Street outside Leinster House today. Thanks to Niall Carson of PA Wire images for this one:

Pearse Doherty, meanwhile, is talking about the Government going after children, lone parents, carers and the disabled. And that’s in just one department he says. He claims that for a full year, the social welfare cuts are €811m.

He says he knows now what to buy them for Christmas – a calculator – that their figures in these cuts to frontline services in health, education and social welfare are €40m out. Or as he calls it, the Kevin Cardiff School of Economics.

Doherty has a general pop at indirect taxes as Gaeilge.

A message from the Budget-free zone of Poetry Ireland. Ah, that’s nice.

Is Michael Noonan “blushing” as Pearse Doherty suggests in the Dáil because he announced a .3 per cent downgrade in growth for next year?

Pearse Doherty is bringing in his own family’s story about having to emigrate for work in the past and the lack of care for the position of families facing this position today.

He’s speaking as gaeilge again by the way.

Pearse Doherty has been asked to put his remarks through the Leas Ceann Comhairle – he had been addressing Taoiseach Enda Kenny directly, against the etiquette of the House in such speeches.

Pearse Doherty is putting forward some more specific changes to target the wealthy – that target revenue without attacking the economy, he says – he’s being a great deal more specific than Michael McGrath of FF was, to be fair.

Pearse Doherty is accusing FG/Labour of taking the same “minimalist approach” as FF towards people struggling with mortgage arrears.

Pearse Doherty says that his party has met the troika and that they were open to whatever fiscal changes they could suggest for the Budget as long as the targets were met.

He ends on an anecdote about a homeless man who died of hypothermia on the streets of Dublin last night. Does that affect you, Taoiseach Kenny, he asks?

Mick Wallace is no standing up to speak on behalf of the unemployed, the young and the demoralised parents of the young. He understands the anger of people who might not even be let in the door of a bank, having to pay for bankers’ mistakes.

Mick Wallace would rather poor in La Paz, Bolivia than poor in Dublin, Ireland.

He feels Sarkozy and Merkel are calling our shots now and that there has been a huge transfer of power in the EU. The principle was that “the strong would help the weaker” he said and that it worked for some years here – but it’s not the case now.

Mick Wallace is quoting this thinkpiece from Larry Elliott of The Guardian. The piece is titled, ‘The emergence of the Frankfurt Group has turned back the democratic clock’. It’s safe to say that while Wallace is “pro-European”, as he has just described himself, he is worried about the direction the EU is taking.

Wallace is worried about the closure of Garda stations, Army barracks, post office branches, nursing homes. “What’s it going to be like living in this country in ten years’ time if we keep going this way?”

Mick Wallace being told to wrap up his comments – he’s finishing on his thoughts on what is being expected of TDs – people want them to “give a damn” and not allow the country be run by bankers and Europe he says.

Richard Boyd Barrett is speaking now and saying that the Government were trying to be clever, introducing “tokens”, “tricks of the eye” to dress up a “cruel and stupid” Budget. He says it attacks the young, the poor and the struggling to protect the bankers and the super-wealthy.

The fuel allowance cuts will mean the difference between life and death – we had nearly 2,000 winter weather-related deaths in the elderly last year, he says.

Rent allowance “is a base-line social welfare cut”, he says, despite the government’s assertion. This is a “nasty, regressive cut” which will push more people into poverty. He also criticises the increased third-level registration fee, reduced back-to-education allowances, and the “slaughter of jobs”.

Richard Boyd Barrett referring to the €100 property tax referring to it as a poll tax. Is he the first person to put that moniker on it today?

His main point about getting so much of the revenue in this Budget from VAT, indirect life taxes, social welfare etc. means that those who will pay for this Budget will be the ordinary citizen and the small business.

Bit of #Budget12 weariness from Darragh Farrelly on Twitter. We hear you, Darragh.

Richard Boyd Barrett ends with the conclusion that there was an alternative to not be so punitive on the poor and to penalise the rich but they chose not to take it.

Shane Ross is welcoming some efforts in the Budget, for example, the mortgage relief. But he is saying that they have taken on the “conservative mantles” of Fianna Fáil and claims that the diktat for this Budget is coming from a “series of strong external forces”.

Ross is looking towards the weekend and the EU meeting on Friday – he says that this Budget is to lead us into the idea of fiscal unity and being under the thumb of the troika for the next few years.

In other news, Michael Noonan appears to have changed the yellow stripey tie he was wearing for the Dáil announcement. Evening wear? Missed his mouth in the Dáil canteen? Got a bit hot in the Oireachtas chamber? Who knows:

Gavan Reilly reports that in the Seanad – where they are currently also debating the Budget – FF’s leader Darragh O’Brien points out that the €250 increase in student registration fees won’t mean extra funding for colleges – because their funding is being cut back by the equivalent amount.

Shane Ross is wondering what has happened to the promised cut of the quangos. He asks Enda Kenny if he remembers the streamlining document of a little while ago. Enda Kenny gives a nod. We think that means that he does.

Shane Ross is calling on the Taoiseach to bring a strong arm to his EU meeting.

Shane Ross is also bringing a strong arm down on the desktop in front of him, creating rather a cacophony of microphone interference.

But back to his point – if Enda puts his point across at the EU, he might be able to come back and make some amendments to the Budget. So Ross figures.

Adjournment now to the Dáil for 30 minutes.

Over on Newstalk’s The Right Hook (with Shane Coleman interviewing) right now, Finance Minister Michael Noonan is saying that he believes the property market is “bottoming out” and between that and his announcements on stamp duty today, buyers might jump in this coming year.

Over in the Seanad, Gavan Reilly reports that Fine Gael senator Michael D’Arcy, on the increased third-level registration fee, said: “He (Quinn) shouldn’t have signed what he signed with the students… perhaps he shouldn’t. Perhaps that was a mistake.” He goes on to compare the Irish reg fee with UK tuition fees.

Right. If you are interested in viewing a live video stream of the press conference at Government buildings coming up at 7pm, simply reload this liveblog and it will automatically embed at the top.

We’ll be blogging the action for you anyway if you can’t turn up the volume wherever you are.

The press conference with Finance Minister Michael Noonan has kicked off at Government buildings.

Noonan has been asked about the “modest growth” forecast for the country for 2012. He is saying that employment is the massive priority and that so many of the job losses came in the construction industry, that must be a target.

He’s mentioning Keynesian economics. They won’t work here, he says. We can’t cut and tax our way out of this – we have to grow the economy in the successful sectors, eg, exports, agriculture.

But we also have to look after the sectors that aren’t performing so well.

He says everyone has a “rainy day mentality” and our savings proportion is too high. He’s trying to enourage movement in commercial and residential property as a result.

Michael Noonan has said of his package of stamp duty etc. to drive property sales that he “doesn’t know if it will work or not”.

Justin McCarthy of Today FM asks if the accusation Noonan made of last year’s Government that they were a puppet government bringing a puppet budget forward could not also be levelled against him this year.

Noonan is saying that, will all respect to Brian Lenihan, he simply had no choice but to make a certain adjustment last year because of the November bailout. Noonan believes he had more leeway this year.

On Patrick Nulty’s decision to vote against Budget 2012, Noonan says that he hardly knows him and that it’s for the Labour Party to deal with him. He says  he’s sorry to lose his support for the Government though.

Noonan is being asked if his mortgage relief/stamp duty stimulus package is not blowing up another property bubble. Which, lest we forget, is what got us into trouble in the first place.

Noonan thinks not. He thinks the property sales sector/construction is well below sustainable level. It shouldn’t be scapegoated he said.

Michael Noonan is addressing the absenteeism issue – he says it is a “very big problem in the public sector”. Because of the treatment of illness benefit for tax purposes, you can end up with more income in your pocket if you stay at home, he says. Interesting scenario if you think about it.

Back in the Dáil, Gavan Reilly reports that they’ve begun debates on the financial resolutions – starting with the 25c hike on cigarettes. Mattie McGrath has complained that he wouldn’t get a chance to contribute.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett said he had been alternating between speakers in favour and against each move – causing Mattie to observe: “I’d be worried your chair is going to fall over with how much you’re going to one side.”

A vote has been called on that measure, by the way, with Joe Higgins opposing it – they’ll be voting in 10 minutes or so.

The reason we reduced the economic growth rate for 2012, says Michael Noonan at HIS press conference, is because of the current economic volatility.

On the other hand, if the eurozone gets back on a “level keel”, Noonan wouldn’t be surprised if he was marking up the growth rate “by Easter”.

Interesting clarification there about the Capital Gains Tax guarantee for property as long as you don’t sell it for seven years. Does this apply to ‘property’ property, or all assets? Eg, Could you buy a painting, hold onto it for seven years and then flip it?

Yes, says Noonan, it applies to all assets. So property in the most general sense then.

NAMA needs to move on to how best to dispose and manage the assets now, says Noonan, and they may need some expert advisors on that. His introduction of advisors to himself in this area is allowed under law, he says.

NAMA has done a good job says Noonan – but it’s time to move on to getting a good return for the taxpayer.

Michael Noonan: I think the pensions industry needs a breather. I’m not going to do what the troika wants this year and pull the top rate of relief down to the standard tax rate. I’m going to get the industry in to talk about this. He agrees with David Begg on investing public sector pensions in Irish enterprise.

Noonan feeling under no pressure to adjust the forecast for future budgets at this point. He claims it was said to him in radio interviews that he should be worried, politically, about introducing a “soft” budget this year because it will mean he has to make harder measures down the line.

Noonan disagrees with that interpretation. He says this was a very hard budget.

He’s also not worried about a downgrade of eurozone countries by S&P because when you’re in a bailout programme, you’re “kinda sheltering from the storm”. It’s not focused on us particularly but he does think that if everyone goes down, we’re all in trouble.

On tax exiles, he says Revenue suggests most tax exiles have dual citizenship and they were prepared to cancel out their Irish citizenship to avoid paying the €200,000.

He’s changing that to a “one-test regime” – if you’re domiciled here, you pay the tax. He reckons only 14 or 15 people paid that tax last year. “If you’re born on the rock, you’re from the rock”. So now.

While Michael Noonan wraps up a very civil press conference at Government buildings, this was the scene outside Leinster House as some protestors gathered. Courtesy of

Back in the Dáil, the motion on the 25 cent hike on a box of cigarettes has been passed.

Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe is arguing that the Dáil has to pass all resolutions by midnight tonight and that’s why he wants discussion time on them reduced. Motion is carried.

If you like the Read Me section of, where we give a platform to people with interesting viewpoints and passions, you’ll like this take on Budget 2012 by some of our previous contributors. Aaron McKenna has found some interesting anomalies in the line items in the Department of Social Welfare cuts, for example.

Also of interest might be our Twitter and pic takes on the day…

But most importantly, HOW MUCH WILL BUDGET 2012 COST YOU?

Find out by using’s Budget Calculator by clicking here.

We’re closing the liveblog now while the Dáil goes through the motions of passing the various proposals of Budget 2012 but we’ll be keeping you updated on reaction, analysis and how our readers fared in Budget 2012 throughout the evening so keep checking in with

Thanks for keeping us company so far.

Read: Budget Day (pt 2) – what we know so far

In full:‘s full coverage of Budget 2012

Gallery: Forget the cuts – here’s some Budget Day Budgies to lighten the mood

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