Fuel and drink tax hikes ruled out for budget

Tax hikes on fuel and drink are being ruled out for next week’s budget while an increase of up to 50c is expected on a pack of cigarettes.

A special Cabinet meeting today will consider options, which include making reductions in the USC and adjustments to the tax a centrepiece of the outgoing Coalition’s last budget.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan looks set to leave petrol prices untouched and not to increase duty on alcohol, coalition sources said. But Mr Noonan is likely to increase the duty on cigarettes by between 30c and 50c. Reductions of 1.5% to 2% in the USC will also be discussed.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil will announce an alternative budget, including a €3,500 USC entry level rise.

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