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Fine Gael to promise tax cuts as part of next election campaign

Fine Gael to promise tax cuts as part of next election campaign

Reducing income tax for the squeezed middle will be a key Fine Gael policy ahead of the next General Election, the Finance Minister has said.

While Pashcal Donohoe left workers disappointed when he failed to make changes to the Universal Social Charge (USC) or income tax bands in this month's Brexit-focused budget, he wants to reduce the amount of tax paid in the coming years.

The Government has long pledged to raise the threshold at which the higher-rate income tax applies to €50,000 and Mr Donohoe said it is "absolutely a commitment that I want to make progress on and I'm confident that we can achieve".

"I have indicated on a number of occasions, it continues to be my view that we have to make continued progress on reducing the point at which middle income and low income earners are paying the higher rate of income tax, that will continue to be my priority from a personal tax point of view and an income tax perspective.

"And if and when we get to a point of an election being called in Ireland I'll be continuing to emphasis that," Mr Donohoe said.

With speculation mounting that the Taoiseach may now call a General Election in November if a Brexit deal is reached, Fine Gael are now likely to put promises of tax cuts front and centre of any campaign.

However, speaking in Dublin, Mr Donohoe played down election rumours this side of Christmas.

"I don't believe there'll be an election for Christmas, I think we are at a point in which there are many bridges still ahead in the Brexit process. And my expectation is there will be an election in 2020 not this year."

Mr Donohoe added: "The Taosieach has given a commitment and an aim that we will have an election approaching next summer, he reaffirmed yesterday in a number of meetings that that is his plan.

"We've always made it clear that we want to conclude where we are with the Brexit process, make sure we're clear on what that means for the country and that we put the right measures in place to protect our economy and our island, and the Taoiseach is outlined that is likely to lead to an election before next summer."

Even if a Brexit agreement is reached, the Finance Minister said he would not be making changes to Budget 2020, which he based around a no-deal scenario.

However, he said that "we always review where we are with our plans" with regards to any Budget and this would happen as the year goes on.

"Budget 2020 is absolutely the right Budget and the right economic strategy for Ireland given all the uncertainty that we are dealing with and given the uncertain status of Brexit a the moment.

"Once we are clear on where we are with Brexit and particularly if we do succeed in getting agreement in relation to managing the orderly exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, it will be possible to continue to make progress on reducing the point at which taxpayers pay the higher rates of income tax."

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