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The alternative Budget: Sugar tax, gambling tax and a job creation competition

What do Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and the United Left Alliance want to see happen with this week’s budget? We take a look at their pre-Budget submissions, and discover some surprising proposals…

Image: John Birdsall/John Birdsall/Press Association Images

WHAT WOULD THE alternative Budget be, if the other parties had their way?

We take a look at the pre-Budget submissions from Sinn Fein, The United Left Alliance – People Before Profit and Fianna Fáil.

VAT

  • Fianna Fáil says the Government should not proceed with the proposed 2% VAT increase at this stage.
  • Sinn Fein suggests no increase in VAT.
  • It is understood that the United Left Alliance is opposed to a VAT increase.

Universal Social Charge

  • Sinn Fein wants this charged abolished and instead proposes a household stimulus with a particular focus on children, including free books and free meals for every primary school child.
  • Fianna Fáil wants to increase the rate payable by people earning over €115,000 by 2 per cent (excluding self-employed) while raising the threshold for exemption from the social charge from €4000 to €8000 which it says will raise €65m.
  • United Left Alliance calls for a reversal of cuts and the abolition of the USC.

Household charge

  • Fianna Fáil proposes a €100 household charge as a precursor to a full property tax.
  • Sinn Féin opposes such a charge.

Pensions

  • Fianna Fail says scrap the private pension levy in favour of €5.6 billion investment stimulus. It also proposes that the Public Sector Pension Reduction for retired senior civil servants, public servants and politicians should be increased. It proposes the amount of a pension between €75,000 and €100,000 be reduced by 25 per cent and any excess over €100,000 be reduced by 30 per cent.
  • Fianna Fáil also says that people should be allowed access up to 20 per cent of their pension fund savings under strictly defined conditions to assist with their first home purchase or to deal with financial distress.
  • Sinn Féin wants to place an earnings cap of €80,000 on pension contributions and grant relief at 20 per cent. It would also abolish the 0.6 per cent levy on pension funds being applied by the current government.
  • United Left Alliance wants no privatisation of state companies and state investment in modern companies using the €5.3 billion in the National Pension Reserve Fund

Family Income Supplement

  • Fianna Fáil says this should be reviewed to give consideration to allowing mortgage payments as a deductible expense.

Rent relief

  • Fianna Fail proposes an increase of €4 per week in the contribution by tenants under this scheme, plus a review of the maximum payments to landlords.
  • Sinn Féin says the government could reduce spending on the rent supplement by providing social housing and asks for proposals to cap rents so that landlords cannot pass rent increases onto their tenants.

Social Welfare

  • Fianna Fáil urges the government to maintain social protection payment rates including child benefit.
  • Sinn Fein wants to maintain social welfare levels and opposes the introduction of student fees, household and water charges.
  • United Left Alliance wants a reversal of the cuts in Social Welfare.

Taxes

  • Sinn Fein wants to introduce a new third rate of tax of 48 per cent on income earned by individuals in excess of €100,00
  • Sinn Fein also wants to reintroduce the income levy (reducing the 2 per cent to 1 per cent on income up to €75K) and health levy
  • United Left Alliance is calling for an assets tax on the wealthy to raise €10 billion per annum, increases in the effective tax rate for those earning more than €100,000 per annum, and the effective taxation of tax exiles

Wages

  • Sinn Féin would cap all public servants wages at €100,000 per annum and government salaries at €100,000, TDs at €75,000 and Senators at €60,000.

And finally… the wildcard proposals

  • Sinn Féin proposes a 5 per cent tax on online gambling.
  • Fianna Fáil, meanwhile, proposes extended trading hours for betting shops.
  • Fianna Fáil also proposes a new levy on alcohol sales in off licences and a tax on high sugar content products.
  • Fianna Fáil says the government should provide €10m over the next two years for a national community competition in job creation “similar in spirit to the tidy towns”.
  • It also says that Ireland should try to attract major sporting events following the success of the Europa League final in the Aviva Stadium.
  • Sinn Féin wants to see a schoolbook provision scheme for all school children
  • Sinn Féin also says the government should provide every primary school child in the State with a free lunch meal
  • United Left Alliance wants a national rainwater harvesting programme to include all public buildings starting with schools, public housing, government buildings and motorways
  • United Left Alliance is also calling for all public buildings/sites not in use to be upgraded/renovated/refurbished to provide public facilities.

Read: Budget 2012: The cuts (and petitions) outlined so far… >

Get ready: It’s Budget Day (pt 1)>

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