Almost £600m of the block grant pumped into top-up dole payments over the next four years won’t be taxed, according to Chancellor George Osborne, who has also hinted that with corporation tax already settled, we many soon be getting more of a say on income tax.
Errant bankers are also going to pay £4.5m towards a new emergency helicopter service for Northern Ireland.
Businesses investing in new greener, energy-saving equipment at the enterprise zone in Coleraine will be allowed to write-off the costs of this equipment against their taxable profits.
And people who want to buy a second property here will suffer a three per cent hike in stamp duty.
Crucially, beer duty is frozen but the cost of cigarettes is going up as part of the Government’s ongoing escalation of tobacco tax.
These are some of the measures contained in the Chancellor’s budget, announced on Wednesday, March 16.
In his budget he states: “In 2015 the government legislated to make a lower Northern Ireland Corporation Tax rate a real possibility.
“There is now broad support within Northern Ireland for a rate of 12.5 per cent, to be introduced in 2018.
“The additional financial support and flexibility provided through the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements has delivered immediate improvements in the Executive’s stability.
“Now Northern Ireland’s own political leaders must press on with the reforms necessary to put the Executive’s finances on the sustainable footing required to complete Corporation Tax devolution.
“Where the Northern Ireland Executive intends to top-up UK-wide benefits from within its block grant as it implements welfare reform, the government will exempt from tax the top-up payments to non-taxable benefits.
“The Northern Ireland Executive has set the boundaries of a pilot Enterprise Zone near Coleraine. “The government will legislate to ensure that Enhanced Capital Allowances can be offered within the Enterprise Zone, with the first investors expected on site later in 2016.
“The Budget allocates £4.5 million from banking fines to help establish a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service for Northern Ireland.
Intriguingly, he hinted that as part of the Government’s policy of introducing ‘English votes for English laws,’ combined with the devolution of income tax to Scotland, this may be the way forward to Northern Ireland, in future.
“The government will legislate in order to meet its manifesto commitment to apply ‘English Votes for English Laws’ to Income Tax. This will allow MPs representing constituencies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to have a decisive say on the main rates of income tax, when those rates are devolved to the Scottish Parliament.”