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UNIVERSAL SOCIAL CHARGE

Surprise, surprise – it looks like the Universal Social Charge (USC) is here to stay despite its widespread unpopularity and a government promise to “review” it in its Programme for Government.

According to The Sunday Business Post, the €420m contribution the controversial measure raises for the state’s coffers means the present government is now unlikely to scrap it.  The USC, which consolidates an income levy and a health charge, was introduced by the previous government in last December’s budget.

Public expenditure minister Brendan Howlin told the newspaper the charge had made a significant contribution to the exchequer and “is an extremely large component part of our tax base”.

Recently, finance minister Michael Noonan described the charge as “one of the most progressive taxes one will find”, insisting it removed the poverty traps inherent in the previous system where separate income and health levies included different bases, exemptions, rates and thresholds.

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