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Broadcast fee and artist tax break in doubt

Cabinet ministers badly shaken by the water charges revolt have decided to abandon plans to introduce a €160 broadcasting charge for each home, according to reports.

The new broadcasting levy was designed to replace the television licence fee but was to be payable by every household, even homes that did not have television sets.

But following the ongoing furore over the payment of water charges, senior members of the Government are understood not to have the stomach to fight another potential flashpoint issue.

The broadcasting charge was announced by Pat Rabbitte before he was sacked from his job as Communications Minister.

He had outlined the increasing trend among the public of watching television programmes on laptops, home computers and smart phones.

Some 20pc of households do not pay for television licences and the prospect of having to introduce any official charge, even as a replacement measure, is currently deemed too hot to handle.

Fianna Fail communications spokesman Michael Moynihan has indicated he will raise the issue in the Dail in the coming days in an effort to get clarity on the Government's stance.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Michael Noonan has told civil servants to conduct a review of the tax relief available to artists in Ireland. He is believed to be in favour to abolishing artist tax relief.

Musicians

Five years ago, the Commission on Taxation recommended scrapping the measure. Top musicians, authors and other creative individuals have been able to earn up to €50,000 a year tax-free. More than 2,000 people currently claim relief under the scheme, first introduced by late Toaiseach Charles Haughey 45 years ago.

aokeeffe@herald.ie


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