Budget 2019: Ask the experts

Not sure what the budget means for you? Our experts will answer your questions live

Dominic Coyle, Fiona Reddan, Sarah Meredith and Shane Roe Wed, Oct 10
LIVE: Budget 2019: Ask the experts

Sort by:

  • Latest first
  • Oldest first
  • This event has now ended
  • 07:19

    Hello and welcome to The Irish Times’ live Ask the Experts budget Q&A.

    Tuesday’s budget, which saw its first votes passed by the Dáil last night, amounted to a package of more than €1.5 billion, paid for by the VAT increase and by strong economic growth, in addition to spending increases already committed to by the Government.

    Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe unveiled a budget of spending increases, mostly in health, housing, capital projects and welfare, as well as personal tax cuts amounting to about €250 million which will leave most taxpayers modestly better off.

  • 07:20

    So what does all that mean for you?

    We’ll be bringing you all the answers to your budget-related queries this morning with our in-house experts Dominic Coyle and Fiona Reddan, as well as Grant Thornton tax experts Sarah Meredith and Shane Roe.

    Don’t forget, it’s still not too late to ask questions, so if you’d like to get involved, you can make a submission here.

  • 07:25

    Mark from Wicklow

    Question: Does the inheritance tax rate (CGT) rate change from 33 per cent for category A?

    Answer: No, there is no change to the rate of inheritance tax, or capital acquisitions tax to give it its formal name. The only change is in the threshold which rises for category A to €320,000 from €310,000. - DC

  • 07:26

    Peadar from Dublin

    Question: Is the Home Renovation Incentive being extended?

    Answer: There was no mention in the budget of the Home Renovation Incentive, which is due to end this December. It is possible that it might yet be addressed in the Finance Bill which will be published later this month and which puts into law the measures outlined in the budget. - DC

  • 07:28

    BB from Dublin

    Question: What happened to the Independent Alliance’s proposed house grant for upgrade/works to allow for additional occupants?

    Answer: The Minister made no reference to this measure that had been mooted ahead of the budget. It appears he focused his attention elsewhere in a fairly extensive package of housing measures. - DC

  • 07:32

    Ivan from Dublin

    Question: Was mortgage interest rate cut in this year’s budget?

    Answer: There was no change in the mortgage interest rate in the budget - there wouldn't be. Rates are set by the individual lenders.

    The only reference of mortgage interest was the decision by the Minister to bring forward to January 2019 the ability of landlords to offset 100 per cent of mortgage interest against rental income. It had not been due to come into force until 2021. - DC

  • 07:34

    Sean from Limerick:

    Question: Is there anything in this budget for the much maligned landlord?

    Answer: Yes - for landlords who have a mortgage or loan on their rental properties. The Minister increased the amount of mortgage interest that can be offset against a tax bill from 80 per cent to 100 per cent, and this change will kick in from 2019.

    While the move will help reduce a landlord's tax burden, the savings may be moderate; Sherry Fitzgerald for example estimates that the move will only increase the net yield of a private investor by less than 50 basis points. - FR

  • 07:36

    Mary from Glenageary

    Question: Is there a €5 increase in state contributory pension, and do all pensioners get double at Christmas?

    Answer: There is a €5 increase coming for all welfare payments, including the State contributory pension. The increase will only kick in from March of next year.

    On the Christmas bonus, the Minister announced that the full 100 per cent bonus will be restored this Christmas. That means you get an extra payment of your weekly welfare.

    The bonus was cut during the austerity years and only 85 per cent of it was restored up to last year. - DC

  • 07:41

    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.

  • 07:43

    Anne from Tipperary

    Question: I earn €733 and my husband earns €350 per week. How much net pay will we have; after tax, USC & PRSI? We are both employed.

    Answer: Your net income will only increase by €59 per annum. You will benefit from the reduced USC charge, but unfortunately you will not benefit from the tax changes as you were already paying tax at the lower rate on all of your income. - SR

  • 07:46

    Rory from Dublin:

    Question: With regard to the rental sector, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said he will bring forward “the full removal of the restriction on the amount of interest that may be deducted by landlords in respect of loans used to purchase, improve or repair their residential property.”

    Could this incentivise improvements or renovations for rental properties within the “substantial renovation” clause, which allows landlords to evict tenants if they can show they will be making renovations to increase the value of a property?

    Answer: Yes, as the Minister said, loans which are used for either purchasing a rental property, or "improving" or "repairing" will be eligible for full interest relief on their annual tax bill.

    This means that landlords looking to borrow money to upgrade their properties will be able to qualify from full interest relief from 2019.

    The Residential Tenancies Board is quite clear that landlords looking to get an exemption from rent control rules need to show evidence of a "substantial renovation"; ongoing repairs and maintenance won't qualify.

    Landlords can also qualify, until the end of year at least, from the Home Renovation Incentive, which allows a tax rebate of up to 13.5 per cent up to a maximum of €4,050 on the value of renovations carried out. - FR

  • 07:49

    Sarah from Dublin

    Question: Will the electric vehicle zero BIK continue?

    Answer: The zero rate BIK on electric cars has been extended for a further two years.

    However, from 2019, there is now a cap of €50,000 in respect of the original market value of the car which may qualify for the zero BIK, with any additional amount being liable to tax at marginal rates by way of a BIK. - SM

  • 07:49

    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.

  • 07:50

    Emmet from Wexford

    Question: What difference will the budget make to someone earning €75,000 with two adult children in full time education???

    Answer: Assuming you are a married couple with one income, your tax bill will be reduced by approx €290 per annum. - SR

  • 07:52

    Sarah from Dublin

    Question: I’ve been waiting for this budget to confirm the sutuation regarding electric vehicle incentives and an update to car BIK, as promised a year ago. I haven’t seen anything on this today - was it covered, has anything changed?

    Answer: The Minister announced that the 0 per cent rate for electric vehicles is being extended for another three years. It applies only to vehicles whose price as new is €50,000 or less.

    VRT relief for hybrid vehicles is also being extended for a year to the end of 2019.

    The Minister said the relief would be reviewed next year in the context of overall changes to VRT as a result of changes to the way of measuring emissions following the diesel scandal.- DC

  • 07:54

    Eamonn from Dublin

    Question: What's happening with the proposed merger of USC and PRSI? In February of this year The Irish Times reported: "The Cabinet on Tuesday approved the establishment of a working group of senior government officials to examine and make recommendations on the merger of USC and PRSI in advance of the October budget."

    Answer: It was expected that the working group would report to the Minister before the budget, but there was no update in the budget announcement yesterday. - SR

  • 07:55

    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.

  • 07:56


    Question: What's the split of education jobs between primary and secondary?

    Answer: There will be "almost 1,300 additional posts" in schools next year, the Minister said, following his increase in funding for education. No breakdown was given on how many will go to primary and how many to secondary.

    Funding for up to an additional 950 special needs assistants was also announced. - DC

  • 07:58

    Tom from Tralee

    Question: Are the Joan Burton cuts to the contributory old age pension of 2012 still in force?

    Answer: The Government is currently moving to a whole new system for the state pension - a total contributions approach.

    It announced recently that 67,000 pensions affected by those changes back in 2012 will receive letters later this month explaining how it affects them.

    The new system does away with the averaging of PRSI stamps over a working life: you will now qualify for a full pension if you have 40 years worth of "stamps" regardless of any time out of the workforce for family or other reasons.

    People in line for increased pension payments as a result will get them sometime in the first three months of next year - backdated to March 2018. - DC

  • 08:01

    Emmet from Wexford

    Question: What difference will the budget make to someone earning €75,000 with two adult children in full time education???

    Answer: Assuming you are a married couple with one income, your tax bill will be reduced by approx €290 per annum. - SR

  • 08:02

    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.

  • 08:06

    Ian from Dublin

    Question: Is there any restitution of public sector occupational pensions in the budget?

    Answer: Pubic sector pensions were not mentioned in the budget speech. The Government was already allowing in the budget arithmetic for the cost of agreements reached since the last budget on public sector pay.

    Any further change on public sector pensions is likely to come through negotiations between the Government and the public sector unions, rather than being flagged first up in a budget. - DC

  • 08:08

    Elizabeth from Monaghan

    Question: How will this budget help me buy a house with two children? We’ve longed for a home of our own for so long.

    Answer: The Minister has enhanced the Affordable Homes regime with the income threshold for dual income families having increased to €75,000.

    The funding per subsidised house has increased to €50,000 and the maximum discount may be up to 40 per cent of the market value of the house. There was also spending allocated to increased social housing.

    Apart from these reliefs, the ability to purchase a house and finance a mortgage may be marginally improved on the back of the income tax and USC cuts. - SM

  • 08:10

    Fergal from Dublin

    Question: Is there any tax relief for provision of child care?

    Answer: Budget 2019 introduced enhanced tax relief on assets used as part of the provision of childcare whereby 100 per cent tax relief is available in the first year. This would cover items such as facilities in crèches, equipment etc.

    There were some changes to subsidies given to people availing of childcare, along with increased subsidies. However, these reliefs are targeted at the families availing of childcare rather than the providers of the care. -SM

  • 08:11

    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.

  • 08:13

    Liam from Galway

    Question: What about the Public Service Pension Reduction (PSPR)?

    Answer: The Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 requires the Minister for Public Expenditure - a role Paschal Donohoe holds along with the finance portfolio - to set a date by the end of 2020 for the complete elimination of the Public Service Pension Reduction from all public service pensions. That remains the case. - DC

  • 08:14

    Sean from Kildare

    Question: Has the entrepreneurs’ relief being increased from the existing €1 million limit?

    Answer: Unfortunately there were no changes announced to this relief and it continues to apply to gains of €1 million with the reduced rate of 10 per cent applying up to this threshold. - SM

  • 08:17

    Donal from Blessington

    Question: On the paid parental leave, will this help parents of children born in 2019, or will those who are currently pregnant and due to give birth over the coming year be able to avail of this?

    Answer: The increase of two weeks to the parental leave is to be rolled out in November 2019 so it is unlikely to benefit those already pregnant or due to give birth prior to next November.

    The objective is to ultimately increase it by seven weeks, with the benefit applying up to the date the child turns one. - SM

  • 08:17

    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.

  • 08:19

    John from Dublin

    Question: Has there been any change to non residential stamp duty?

    Answer: No. While there had been an expectation that stamp duty on multi-unit residential developments would be subject to a higher rate of stamp duty, there was no change yesterday.

    This means that a rate of 1 per cent applies on properties worth up to €1 million, and 2 per cent on properties worth in excess of that. - FR

  • 08:21

    David from Loughrea

    Question: What will the billions in tax that is collected from smokers be replaced with when and if Ireland became a smoking free land?

    Answer: With one in five Irish people still smoking, that day still seems some way off. If it happens, as with the sharp reduction in stamp duty post the financial crash, the Government will no doubt find other ways of raising revenue. - DC

  • 08:22

    Orla from Cork

    Question: Any change to the €3,000 small gift exemption?

    Answer: There was talk of it - as there was of so many things - but no change has been announced in the small gift exemption. - DC

  • 08:23

    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.

  • 08:24

    John from Kilbarrack

    Question: I am on community employment. Am I due the €5 increase in the 2019 budget?

    Answer: It is likely that you will benefit, as while there was no increase in the rate of payment for the community employment scheme, the €5 increase applies to a range of qualifying payments for the scheme, including jobseekers and widows/widowers' benefit.

    In addition, people in receipt of the payment will get a full Christmas bonus in early December this year. - FR

  • 08:26

    Sean from Dundalk

    Question: Any BIK relief for hybrid cars?

    Answer: No. While the 0 per cent rate of benefit in kind for electric vehicles has been extended for three years, with a cap of €50,000 on the original market value of the vehicle this does not apply to hybrids.

    VRT relief on the purchase of a hybrid or plug-in electric hybrid is available however until end-2019. - FR

  • 08:27

    Conor from Dublin

    Question: Any word on potential extension of the Help to Buy scheme past the existing expiry date of December 31st, 2019?

    Answer: No, there was no announcement made yesterday so it is still unclear as to whether or not Help to Buy will continue beyond end-2019. - FR

  • 08:28
    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.
  • 08:29

    Jim from Dublin

    Question: Did the budget provide ANYTHING to ease the financial burden on students or upcoming students in Ireland?

    Answer: In terms of college registrations fees and the like? No, not a word. And there were no specific housing measures directed at students, such a rent controls. - DC

  • 08:32

    Stephen from Kildare

    Question: With all the changes in recent times, is it more beneficial to be married for tax purposes? We are an unmarried couple with two children. We both earn 35-40k each per annum.

    Answer: It is generally better, in tax terms, to be married. Certainly, married couples will never be treated less favourably than unmarried people so, if you are looking only at the issue of tax, the balance favours marriage. - DC

  • 08:35

    Mary from Dublin

    Question: CAT band was increased for category A by €10,000. Any changes to category B or C?

    Answer: No, the only changes to the CAT thresholds were for category A, being predominantly gifts or inheritances from parents to children, where the band increased by €10,000.

    There were no increases to the tax-free thresholds for category B or C gifts or inheritances. - SM

  • 08:35

    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.

  • 08:38

    Laina from Dublin

    Question: Will the houses get a bigger tax?

    Answer: Tax on houses generally comes in three forms - stamp duty when you buy, local property tax when you live there and, potentially, capital gains tax when you sell if it is not your family home.

    There was no change in any of these tax headings although, in relation to local property tax, the Minister did say that he would publish the results of the review of LPT "in due course". He also said any future changes would be "moderate and affordable". - DC

  • 08:40

    Zinka from Dublin

    Question: Any good news for us first time buyers who plan on buying next year?

    Answer: Unfortunately there were no specific reliefs introduced for first time buyers.

    The rate of stamp duty continues to be 1 per cent for the first €1 million in respect of residential property and 2 per cent thereafter while mortgage interest relief is no longer available.

    However, there were enhancements on the affordable housing regime whereby the market value of a new house may be discounted by up to 40 per cent and the income threshold was lifted to €75,000 per married couple. - SM

  • 08:46

    Constantin from Ballyfermot

    Question: I’m a chef from Dublin, working part-time because I have to stay with my six-year-old boy four days per week, and my partner and his mother stay with him the other three days, so she is also working part time.

    Our monthly income is around €3,600 / €3,800 in total - and from this amount we a €749 mortgage to pay, bills, travelling to work, etc, but we are very squeezed every month.

    Basically, after mortgage, all the bills (gas, electricity, internet), monthly payment for house insurance, food - we have nothing left.

    We don’t have money to go for a movie or to have a pint or two one day per week. For a working family in Ireland, one of the wealthiest countries in the word, I think this is not a normal life. Can we qualify for any social welfare payment? Thank you.

    Answer: Constantin, I am assuming that you already receive child benefit for your son. That aside, the news for you and many others in your position is that this budget will make only a tiny difference in your take home pay, with the changes in USC yielding just a euro or two a week. - DC

  • 08:46
    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.
  • 08:48

    Sean from Kerry

    Question: I am a proprietary director. My salary in €50,000 per annum and my wife works in administration. Her salary is €26,000. I pay €400 a month into a pension and we have two children under six. How has the Budget affected us?

    Answer: Your after tax income will increase by approximately €50 per month. You will benefit from the increase to the 20 per cent band and the reduced USC rate, as well as the increase in the earned income credit which you are entitled to as a proprietary director. - SR

  • 08:50

    June from Dublin

    Question: Has the budget done anything to relieve the high cost of childcare for parents working outside the home? Thank you.

    Answer: Yes it has. Thresholds to qualify for the Affordable Childcare Scheme have been increased. The scheme, which delivers a €20 weekly payment for all, had been criticised as not offering enough benefits.

    The latest move means that the threshold to qualify for the most benefits has increased from €22,700 to €26,000.

    The maximum has also increased, which means that someone earning up to €60,000 will now also qualify, up from €47,500 previously, although the benefits will be limited.

    The deduction for multiple children has also increased, up from €3,800 to €4,300. The changes mean for example that a worker earning €30,000 a year, with a one-year old child, will now benefit from a childcare subsidy of €1,040 a year. - FR

  • 08:53

    Peter from Wicklow

    Question: Moved to an electric car in 2018 (company car) value €95,000. It was cheaper to lease and run than diesel car of €45,000 and €7,000 annual fuel bill.

    Last year it was the Minister’s intention that 0 per cent BIK would be for three to five years. In yesterday’s budget however, it appears that this rate is now capped to a €50,000 value, leaving me now exposed for €45,000 liability? What is your understanding of this?

    Answer: Yes, unfortunately the 0 per cent BIK has been capped at €50,000, so the excess will be taxable. The exemption has been extended for three years. - SR

  • 08:56

    Ben from Dublin

    Question: Has the tax relief at source been reduced again for people who bought during the boom?

    Answer: Last year's budget announced the phasing out of tax relief at source on mortgages taken out up to the end of December 2012.

    For 2018, there was a reduction of 25 per cent, with the reduction being 50 per cent for next year and 75 per cent in the last year, being 2020.

    The calculations are quite complex with varying bands and rates depending upon when the house was purchased, whether you were a first time buyer and whether you are single or married. - SM

  • 09:02


    Question: Will the budget have any effect on housing? Particularly in Dublin?

    Answer: A subsidy of €310 million was announced to assist local authorities in providing affordable homes to qualifying buyers. There was also €1.25 billion allocated to the delivery of 10,000 social houses in 2019.

    Apart from these measures, on the tax side landlords are now entitled to a 100 per cent deduction for mortgage interest related to the acquisition of properties being rented out and the rationale behind this change is to foster the supply of rental properties (with there being a hope that landlords may keep rental prices stable if they are getting a higher tax deduction for their rental interest expense). - SM

  • 09:04

    Cynthia from Wicklow

    Question: Does disability also receive a bonus? How much can a landlord increase the rent with and is there a time limit?

    Answer: In terms of bonus, I assume you mean the Christmas bonus? And yes, people on disability allowance or the disablement benefit do qualify for the Christmas bonus.

    That aside, people on these welfare payments will receive the €5 increase in weekly payments come next March, in line with all welfare payments. - DC

  • 09:05
    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.
  • 09:07

    Sunny from Dublin

    Question: Is there any relief for people paying high rents (above national average)? I earn €70,000. I am married and single earning person with no kids, no car and no property (not sure if I can afford any of these) and with transport fares increasing every year. How does this budget help me?

    Answer: Your after tax income will increase by approximately €25 per month. You will benefit from the increase in the 20 per cent tax band and the reduced USC rate. There was no tax relief announced for those paying high rents. - SR

  • 09:10

    Jim from Roscommon

    Question: I am currently working two jobs. The first as a factory worker is my main source of income at €27,500 per annum. The second as a retained fire-fighter who was recruited in 2016 on the retainer of €7,700 plus call out fees.

    My questions are in what way(s) will I be better off and also does the public pay restoration affect me? Thank you.

    Answer: Your after tax monthly income will increase by approximately €15. The Minister referenced the Public Service Stability Agreement, through which Government is committing €1.2 billion to increase pay for public servants over the period 2018 to 2021. - SR

  • 09:11

    Eva from Dublin

    Question: What does the budget mean for third level students?

    Answer: There have been no changes on the tax side in respect of tax relief for university fees. The changes to the USC and income tax bands are unlikely to affect those with part-time jobs. So, on balance, Budget 2019 didn't do much for the majority of third level students. - SM

  • 09:12
    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.
  • 09:13

    Peter from Derry

    Question: I’m due to inherit a small cottage and a few acres of land outside Galway city from my aunt. Are there any changes in the 30 something inheritance tax? I live in Derry.

    Answer: No changes in either the category B threshold governing inheritances from an aunt, or the CAT/inheritance tax rate of 33 per cent. – DC

  • 09:15

    Yvonne from Dundalk

    Question: Is there any increase in children's allowances?

    Answer: The children's allowance, or child benefit, stays the same next year at €140 per child, €210 for a twin and €280 for each triplet or above. - DC

  • 09:17

    Mary from Cork

    Question: How will this budget help my family? I have one in college and two in second level (leaving cert and fifth year). The extra places, will that mean points go down for courses? I don’t see any benefit for my family.

    Answer: You'd imagine the extra college places should help on points but several factors need to be taken into account.

    First, the 15,000 new higher education and further education and training spaces mentioned by the Minister covers a broad area - there will be only 3,500 new undergraduate places in colleges funded next year.

    And once you spread them across different colleges and courses, the impact on points might be minimal.

    Also, many courses have space constraints that mean they won't physically be able to accommodate extra people.

    Finally, the impact on points will be heavily influenced by demand - how many students sit the Leaving Certificate and which courses they opt for. I wouldn't expect a major impact on points. - DC

  • 09:18

    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.

  • 09:20

    Ben from Dublin

    Question: What about welfare schemes for back to education? Were these looked at during the budget?

    Answer: Beyond the standard welfare increase of €5 a week from next March, there was no increase in funding or financial support.

    However, the Minister said that the increase in funding for education would create an additional 8,000+ places through Springobard and Skillnet courses as well as 1,100 traineeships and more than 1,200 craft and "earn as you learn" places. - DC

  • 09:21

    Kevin from Dublin

    Question: Any changes to pension tax relief or exit tax on investment funds?

    Answer: There were no changes announced either to exit tax on investment funds - which was the subject of sustained lobbying from the financial services sector - or pension tax relief. - DC

  • 09:29

    Jimmy from Dublin

    Question: My wife is a stay at home mother. She has no income. Can I claim home carers allowance on my tax?

    Answer: Yes, your wife can claim the home carer credit as long as your children qualify for child benefit and her income doesn't exceed €9,600 per annum. The budget increased the credit from €1,200 to €1,500. - SR

  • 09:31
    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.
  • 09:35

    Sarah from Sligo

    Question: What exactly will the increase in the income threshold to €60,000 for the affordable childcare scheme mean for families brought in to this net?

    I was under the impression the €20 a week or €1,040 was a non-means tested universal payment but I can't find any information on what you are entitled to under if you are below the income threshold. Thanks.

    Answer: For children under three, there is a non-means tested subsidy of €1,040 per child enrolled in Tusla registered childcare.

    There are then targeted subsidies for children where the parents earn below a certain threshold of income with these subsidies being up to €145 per week for full-time childcare.

    The income threshold increased from €47,500 to €60,000 in Budget 2019 for the maximum subsidy. Also, the base income threshold is being raised from €22,700 to €26,000. - SM

  • 09:41

    Tomás from Wicklow

    Question: Why is a Rainy Day Fund being set up when there's still such a mountain of debt (€188 billion) to be repaid?

    Answer: The Government would say that they are trying to do both.

    The Minister said that his intention was to run budget surpluses in future years and use those surpluses to pay down the national debt, which he acknowledged was still high despite recent improvements.

    Having stood at 111 per cent of adjusted gross national income in 2017, he said it is forecast to fall to 105 per cent this year and to 101 per cent in 2019. Clearly, that is still high.

    But, as he also acknowledged, we tend to feel the blows of the vagaries of international trends more than other countries as we are such an open economy.

    The Minister noted that our economic performance has been even less stable than other similar economies and that we need to do more to withstand the inevitable economic shocks that occur from time to time. Hence the Rainy Day Fund.

    It will use some of what the Minister said was around €700 million in one-off corporation tax receipts to build the fund.

    The fund will be kick-started with €1.5 billion from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and an annual top-up of €500 million from exchequer funds, including any outsized corporation tax receipts.

    Of course, all this holds only so long as Mr Donohoe is the man making the decisions so we will have to see who is sitting in the various cabinet seats following the next general election before we can say for sure how the Rainy Day fund, budget surpluses and debt repayment work out. - DC

  • 09:42

    Laura from Kildare

    Question: Will the two weeks parental leave for babies under one year mean they can be added to the existing 26 week maternity benefit to give 28 weeks?

    Answer: While it is not yet clear, it is likely that the new benefit will be available either at the end of the 26-week maternity benefit period or at a later stage during the baby's first year, as it is to be paid at the same rate of maternity and paternity benefit, i.e. €245 a week.

    The two weeks will also be offered to fathers, and will be offered in addition to two weeks paternity benefit. - FR

  • 09:44

    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.

  • 09:53

    Jane from Sutton

    Question: Has there been any change to the 33 per cent capital gains tax or the €1 million tax exemption for entrepreneurs? Thank you.

    Answer: No, there has been no change to this relief unfortunately and we continue to significantly lag behind the UK equivalent regime. - SM

  • 10:00

    Celine from Dublin

    Question: Will there be any additional funding for third level education that can help universities directly? Irish university rankings are continuing to fall year-on-year since major recession cut backs and have not seen any substantial restoration.

    Answer: There is little in the way of specifics but the Minister has allocated €50 million for eight "significant new infrastructure projects" that are currently underway in higher education locations.

    Aside from that, much of the increase is to allow for demographic (€21 million) and pay and pension (€37 million) factors in the sector. That will create an additional 3,500 college places.

    The other possible assistance for third level will come under the new Human Capital Initiative.

    Part of the €300 million ring-fenced fund will be available to "provide additional investment at levels 6-8 in higher education".

    That's third level certificate qualification up to honours bachelor degrees. How much of the fund will be available to third level is unclear as of now. - DC

  • 10:02

    Eleanor from Dublin

    Question: Has the Home Renovation Incentive been extended for another year?

    Answer: This incentive is due to expire in December 2018 and was not referred to within Budget 2019. The Finance Bill, which is being published next week, may address this but in the absence of that, it will not continue into next year. - SM

  • 10:03
    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.
  • 10:05

    Sean from Dublin

    Question: Can I claim home carers’ allowance for my wife? She has no income or child benefit coming in. Our kids are adults who still live with us.

    Answer: No, the home carer credit is only available in respect of children who qualify for child benefit, individuals aged over 65, and individuals who are permanently incapacitated. - SR

  • 10:13

    Tim from Cork

    Question: Will retired public servants - on civil service pensions - qualify for the €5 per week increase?

    Answer: The €5 a week increase from next March is relevant only for those on welfare payments, including the state pension.

    Increases in civil service/public service pensions in line with pay increases for serving civil/public servants were restored in 2017 under an agreement between the public sector unions and the Government, "provided that the pensionable salary associated with the pension is lower than the salary paid to serving staff in the same grade and on the same payscale point". - DC

  • 10:17

    Tomás from Wicklow

    Question: Re the 50c increase on a packet of cigs; surely the Laffer Curve dictates that continuously bleeding smokers will only lead to reduced tax revenues, with an increase in black market (and therefore, criminal) activities.

    Are there any figures showing that cigarette tax revenues ARE falling and that this latest hike will be counterproductive?

    Answer: The tax on cigarettes now constitutes 79 per cent of their cost. However, the Government has predicted further tax revenues on the back of the increase in duty of 50 cents, indicating their view that the downward part of the Laffer Curve has not yet kicked in.

    The expectation is that revenues of €68.1 million will be generated due to the increase in duty. - SM

  • 10:18

    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.

  • 10:20

    Shane from Dublin

    Question: What does it mean by PRSI for the self employed will be expanded? What other benefits do the self employed non company registered gain from the budget?

    Answer: In the last three months of 2019, self-employed people will become eligible for Jobseeker’s Benefit for the first time, as part of an extension of social welfare benefits to the self-employed based on their Class S PRSI contributions.

    Self-employed people also got another benefit in yesterday's budget, in that the earned income credit was increased by €200. This will reduce a self-employed person's tax bill for next year by €200. - FR

  • 10:22

    Michael from Malahide

    Question: Is there any provision for restoration of the full state pension for women who left the workforce to raise children?

    Answer: From March 2018 the "Total Contributions Approach" was introduced to take account of periods spent working in the home. More information is available on www.welfare.ie - SR

  • 10:26

    Zef from Dublin

    Question: What is the €95 maintenance for family income supplement?

    Answer: I'm a bit unclear by the reference to €95. There is provision for someone who is separated to claim family income supplement - or the Working Family Payment as it is now formally known - if they are paying maintenance to their former partner or spouse but only if they are "wholly maintaining" them.

    The key here is that the former spouse or partner cannot be earning more than €100 a week in their own right. They also cannot have married, have entered a civil partnership or be cohabiting.

    The former partner or spouse also cannot separately apply for a family income/working family payment in their own right if you as a former partner are claiming it in relation to financial support you are providing.

    And they will need to provide written confirmation that they are receiving the maintenance. If I am getting the wrong end of the stick and this €95 figure refers to something else, please come back to us with a few more details.

  • 10:30

    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.

  • 10:43

    Joan from Dublin

    Question: Any word on the Home Renovation Incentive?

    Answer: There was no mention in the budget of the Home Renovation Incentive, which is due to end this December. It is possible that it might yet be addressed in the Finance Bill which will be published later this month and which puts into law the measures outlined in the budget. - SM

  • 10:49

    Marie from Dublin

    Question: Minister Regina Doherty had promised to sort out the problem with the pension for those of us who were unfortunate enough to start paying stamps at a young age and as a result now qualify for smaller contributory pensions. Is there anything in the budget covering this?

    Answer: No there isn't but Minister Doherty's Department put out a notice at the weekend to say that 67,000 pensioners affected by the promised changes will be getting letters around the end of the month, explaining what is happening.

    Any increased payment will start sometime in the first three months of next year and will be backdated to March of this year when the reform was first announced. - DC

  • 10:52

    Brendan from Kildare

    Question: Hi, can you explain the capital gains tax relief for landlords of 4 per cent per annum. I find it a bit confusing. Why would you get capital gains tax relief for purchasing a property?

    Answer: This was a relief that was touted before the budget but did not form part of the Minister's speech yesterday. There may be something on this in the Finance Bill, which is due to be published next week. - SM

  • 10:53
    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.
  • 10:54

    Paula from Dublin

    Question: My partner and I are first time buyers looking to buy early next year. Has anything changed in the way of supports such as the Help-to-Buy, or has everything stayed the same?

    Answer: There have been no specific changes for first time buyers. The Help-to-Buy scheme continues to be in place for new properties acquired up to December 31st, 2019, subject to certain thresholds and conditions.

    For properties acquired from 2017, the maximum value to avail of this scheme is €500,000. - SM

  • 10:58

    Laura from Mayo

    Question: How much was the increase in child benefit and for a qualified child?

    Answer: Child benefit will stay the same at €140 per child, but there has been an increase in the qualified child payment to €2.20 for children under 12, and €5.20 for children aged 12 and over. - FR

  • 10:59

    Lucas from Cork

    Question: How will third level students be impacted be the new measures?

    Answer: There is no direct impact on students. They might benefit marginally if they are working from the changes in USC and they might benefit incidentally if the rental market eases as a result of some of the housing measures.

    But I wouldn't bet on it and, one way or the other, any benefit will be fractional. - DC

  • 11:03

    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.

  • 11:04

    Michael from Cork

    Question: Will be the €50,000 cap on BIK exemption for electric vehicles be retrospective? Got an expensive electric company car this year, this will really really hurt me if retrospective!

    Answer: The €50,000 cap should be effective from January 2019, but we await next week's Finance Bill for confirmation. If a vehicle was purchased in 2018, it is expected that the excess over €50,000 will be taxable from 2019. - FR

  • 11:07

    Graham from Kildare

    Question: Has there been any increase in the rehabilitative earnings disregard of €120 per week.

    Answer: There was no mention of the rehabilitative earnings disregard in the budget announcement.

    Current rules provide that the first €120 of your earnings will be disregarded and 50 per cent of earnings between €120 and €350 will also be disregarded. - SR

  • 11:11

    Ailish from Cork

    Question: On childcare and the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme, how will the additional funds be managed?

    Answer: Minister Katherine Zappone is due to hold a press conference at noon to provide more detail on the childcare measures in the budget and how they will be implemented.

    If you check back with the website around lunchtime, we should hopefully have some of that detail published by then. - DC

  • 11:12

    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.

  • 11:15

    Linda from Limerick

    Question: Was the Home Renovation Incentive extended? Currently it ends on December 31st 2018 (or March 2019 if you are waiting on planning permission). Just wondering if this scheme is being extended?

    Answer: This regime is due to expire at the end of the year but it is possible it may be extended - if this is the case it would be addressed in the Finance Bill being published next week.

    In the absence of this, the relief will only apply on expenditure of up to €30,000 incurred by the end of 2018, with the maximum relief being €4,050.

    There is an exception whereby if planning permission is required for the work and is in place by December 31st, 2018, you can claim for work carried out and paid for up to March 31st, 2019. - SM

  • 11:20

    Brian from Wicklow

    Question: Will all pensioners get the €5 or will those not on full get less?

    Answer: Anyone receiving less than the full state pension will not get the whole €5 a week increase. Instead, the increase will be adjusted pro rata.

    Last year, the €5 increase on the full welfare payment translated to €4.70 for those with an average of between 40 and 47 "stamps" a year over their working life, €44.50 for those with an average of 30-39, €4.30 for those with 20-29, €3.30 for 15-19 and €2 a week for those whose annual average number of stamps is somewhere between the minimum of 10 and 14. - DC

  • 11:21

    Owen from Tipperary

    Question: Is there any measure in the budget for further restoration of public service pension reductions?

    Answer: Restoration of public service pensions is governed by the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 following negotiations between the unions and Government.

    It is not something that was addressed in this budget. The Minister is obliged to state, before the end of 2020, when full restoration will take place. - DC

  • 11:25
    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.
  • 11:27

    Sean from Kildare

    Question: What provisions were made for funding for the Irish language state bodies and infrastructure on the islands in yesterday's budget?

    Answer: There was an additional €5 million allocated to the Irish language, the Gaeltacht and the islands as part of Budget 2019, bringing the total budget to €67.5 million for 2019.

    This is being allocated by Minister McHugh between varying schemes and initiatives. - SM

  • 11:29

    Quirke from Dublin

    Question: Can I claim home carers credit for looking after my husband aged 76 with medical problems? One income family jointly assessed. Thanks.

    Answer: Yes, as your husband is aged over 65, the credit should be available, assuming he does not have income in excess of €7,200. A reduced credit is available if the income of the dependent is between €7,200 and €9,600. – SR

  • 11:31

    David from Rathfarnham

    Question: The announcement of the affordable housing scheme was welcome. When do you think the councils will start accepting applications and will there be a long waiting list?

    Answer: The announcement certainly is welcome - or, rather, the allocation of €310 million in funds over three years.

    This is finally putting flesh on the bones of an affordable housing policy that was first announced by Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy back in 2015.

    And you'll have to wait a bit longer, as the first houses under the programme are unlikely to come on stream until 2020. Details of how to apply (and when) were not disclosed though it would be no harm to contact your local authority. - DC

  • 11:35

    Aine from Louth

    Question: I work full time earning approximately €450 a week. I also have contributory widows pension and a child of 19 at university who started this September. Will the budget affect me?

    Answer: Yes, you will benefit from the €5 per week social welfare increase. If you are not paying tax at the higher rate then the only tax change will be minor USC saving.

  • 11:39

    Paul from Dublin

    Question: Has there been any detail about the public sector pay restoration? The most I could find yesterday was a bullet point regarding the 2025 deadline and the cost.

    Answer: My understanding is that full pay restoration is due to be achieved by 2021 under the terms of the pay deal agreed with public service unions in late 2017.

    Some elements of that ongoing process are allowed for the budget sums but there was no further announcement on the issue. - DC

  • 11:39
    If you have a question for our experts, you can make a submission here.
  • 11:41

    Gillian from Dublin

    Question: Can I claim home carer tax credit when on a career break to mind my three kids? The only income then will be my husband’s?

    Answer: Yes you should be entitled to the home carer credit to the extent that your income does not exceed €7,200. This increased from €1,200 to €1,500 next year.

    Your husband should also be entitled to a higher band of income taxable at 20 per cent while your personal tax credit may further reduce the overall tax bill. - SM

  • 12:10

    Zef from Dublin

    Question: What is the €95 maintenance for family income supplement?

    Answer: Coming back to you Zef on this €95 that had me puzzled. I thought it was in relation to maintenance payments to a former partner but that's not so.

    This is a new "maintenance disregard", which effectively is a sum of money that is not taken into account in assessing whether you meet the financial threshold to be eligible for family income supplement, now known as the working family payment.

    This maintenance disregard relates to housing costs. The Department of Employment and Social Affairs will disregard the first €95 per week you pay in housing costs in determining if your income is below the relevant weekly threshold - €521 for a family unit with one child, €622 where there are two children.

    The income threshold rises with each extra child. As well as the €95 disregard, the department will assess the balance of your housing costs at just 50 per cent in relation to those thresholds. The Department reckons that 5,500 families will benefit from the measure. - DC

  • 12:20

    John from Dublin

    Question: The budget allocates €103.5 million for improvements in grant and premium rates for planting forests. Are there any details of how this will be spent?

    Answer: There's a briefing by the Minister, Michael Creed, happening just as we speak so we may be a little more enlightened in the next hour or so but we don't have detail on it at the moment. - DC

  • 12:29

    John from Dublin

    Question: How much money will be given to Irish Water out of 'general taxation' for 2019?

    Answer: The budget has allocated spending of nearly €1.2 billion for domestic water services in 2019.

    This is in addition to money for group water schemes so the figure is probably the best estimate of Irish Water exchequer funding for 2019.

    In addition, there is €122 million in capital spending on the water infrastructure pencilled in between now and 2021. That also comes from the exchequer. - DC

  • 12:30

    Sylvia from Limerick

    Question: What are the changes to the family working payment?

    Answer: The main change is that the Department will disregard the first €95 of housing costs when examining whether your income hits the relevant threshold. And it will disregard 50 per cent of the balance of any housing costs.

    They say that around 5,500 families should benefit though it is not clear to me exactly when this comes into force. - DC

  • 12:35

    Clodagh from Loughrea

    Question: I'm looking to buy my first home. I’m a first time buyer. What incentives and tax breaks are there?

    Answer: There were no new measures for homebuyers in the budget apart from the affordable home scheme - a €310 million project which will be rolled out over the next four years or so.

    That will offer homebuyers on lower incomes the possibility of buying a home at a discount of up to 40 per cent. For everyone else, the main incentive remains the Help to Buy scheme.

    That allows first-time buyers of newly-built homes (or self-builds) the chance to receive a refund of income tax already paid over the past four years. The maximum claim is five per cent of the purchase price, or €20,000, whichever is the lesser. The property cannot be worth any more than €500,000.

  • 12:40

    Frances from Rathdrum

    Question: Have there been any changes in the tax arrangements for landlords? I rent a property and do an annual tax declaration.

    Answer: The main change is that the Minister has brought forward from 2021 to next year the date after which landlords will be able to claim 100 per cent of the mortgage interest on a property against rental income from that property.

    At the moment, just 80 per cent of mortgage interest is allowed. - DC

  • 12:41

    Sean from Limerick

    Question: Is there any change on capital gains tax from 33 per cent?

    Answer: Nope. The rate stays at 33 per cent. - DC

  • 12:44

    Oriel from Wicklow

    Question: I earn approximately €90,000. What changes can I expect in my take home pay?

    Answer: Well, that's a sweeping question. The answer will depend on whether that income is from a single person, a one earner family or total income from a two earner family. Whether you have an electric company car could also impact.

    Assuming it is a one-income family with no company car or other distorting factor, you are likely to be around €290 better off.

    For a more detailed answer, why don't you run your particular figures through the tax calculator on The Irish Times budget site, which was compiled with PwC. - DC

  • 12:50

    With that, we’re going to wrap up our live Ask the Experts budget Q&A.

    Thanks for your questions and input, and we hope we were able to shed some light on how this year’s budget will affect you and your family.

    If you have any more questions, they can be directed to Dominic Coyle who will endeavour to answer them in his weekly Q&A column, which appears in the newspaper and online on Tuesdays.