'Squeezed middle' will take home extra €1,000 in annual pay after final Budget
The so-called 'Squeezed Middle' will take home an additional €1,000 in their annual pay after the Coalition announces its final Budget before the General Election.
The deeply-unpopular Universal Social Charge (USC) will be significantly reduced as the Government moves to phase out the tax by 2020.
There will also be a major package aimed at ending the "unfair treatment" of the self-employed with a promised annual tax credit of €550, the herald can reveal.
A 50 cent increase in the price of cigarettes will be announced in a move that will generate over €60m in additional revenue to spend elsewhere.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin will deliver the taxation and spending measures from 2pm today.
Senior government sources said the €1.5bn package will ensure "every household and family" in the State will benefit.
The Budget will be pitched heavily at families and will deliver a €5 increase in child benefit, a cut in the pupil-teacher ratio and the introduction of free pre-school for children aged between three and five.
The Budget will also include:
An increase to the inheritance tax threshold from €225,000 to €300,000;
An entrepreneurial package aimed at attracting 70,000 emigrants home;
Two weeks' paid parental leave for fathers;
The delivery of 20,000 homes by 2020 through Nama;
The full restoration of the respite grant for carers.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar has secured an additional €200m in funding - which will be followed by a €600m supplementary budget partly aimed at resolving the trolley crisis. A major package for the elderly will also be announced.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has secured at least 600 additional garda places.