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Michael Noonan

Yes, it's the Budget – and Michael Noonan has now done the honours, standing up in the Oireachtas to announce the financial poa for the nation for 2017.

Wrapping up this afternoon with the words, "it makes sense to avoid the mistakes of the past that could overheat our economy," here, we get to grips with the nitty-gritty detail that will have an impact on your pocket:

Cigarettes: 50c a pack increase

The one-and-only tax increase – a packet is shooting up by 50c from midnight tonight, meaning it will cost €11 for 20 cigarettes.

Alcohol: no tax increase

There has been lots of talk of raising the price of booze recently – but, for now, we can still enjoy €5 bottles of wine.

Property: buyer incentives 

First-time buyers will now get back 5 percent (up to a maximum of €400,000) on the purchase price of their homes until the end of 2019 – but only if they're snapping up new-build residences. 

Kids: affordable scheme

Kicking off in September of next year there will be means-tested subsidies, based on parental income, for children between six months and 15 years –independent.ie says it’ll be worth at least €20 a week.

Teachers: more jobs

An education recruitment drive from next year will aim to establish another 2,400 teaching posts – of which 900 will be resource teachers.

Social welfare: on the up

All welfare payments from the State – dole, pension, carers' allowance, disability allowance etc – will all go up by €5 a week from March.

Universal Social Charge: middle earners rejoice

It's never been a popular one – and now the three lowest rates of USC will be cut; the 5.5 percent, 3 percent, and 1 percent rate bands will be slashed to just 0.5 percent. And medical card holders and those over 70 will now pay a maximum of 2.5 percent USC on their incomes.

Corporate tax rate: holding steady

Despite the recent European Court ruling in relation to Apple's tax affairs in Ireland, the 12.5 percent corporation tax is holding steady for the foreseeable future.

Gardaí: recruitment drive

Some 800 new members of An Garda Síochána will be hired and trained in 2017. Our Defence Forces will furthermore be provided with additional facilities, pensions, housing and equipment.

The Dáil: pay-day

Enda's salary will shoot up by almost €15,000. Travel and subsidies will also increase for TDs.

Sugar tax: introduced

A so-called sugar tax will be applied on high-sugar foods from spring 2018 – in line with similar legislation in the UK. A public consultation process kicks off in January.

Health: more cash

An extra half a billion euro will be handed over health – the largest ever budget applied to the sector.



Following in the footsteps of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, The Netherlands and Sweden, Ireland will next week begin phasing out its 1c and 2c coins.

The Central Bank’s Ronnie O’Toole said consumers and retailers have so far been supportive of the move.

"The reaction so far to Rounding has been fantastic. As a country we are good at making changes like this," he explained.

"We migrated to the euro ahead of most other countries, and the indications so far are that consumers and retailers alike will embrace rounding.”

It means that the 5c coin will be our smallest legal tender, with cash transactions from October 28 rounded up or down to the nearest 5c. The smaller coinage will, of course, remain legal – but the Central Bank hopes to gradually phase them out entirely.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has been eager for the policy to be put in place following a trial carried out in Wexford in 2013.

Afterwards, 85 percent of consumers and 100 percent of retailers there said they wanted the system rolled out nationally.

A 1c coin costs 1.65c to produce while 2c coins cost 1.94c. The Central Bank estimates it has spent at least €30m on minting the two coins since 2001.

Rounding will still operate on a voluntary basis and customers can always ask for the exact change they are entitled to.

Otherwise, a transaction costing €10.21 or €10.22 would be rounded to €10.20, while a transaction costing €10.28 or €10.29 would be rounded to €10.30. And a transaction costing €10.23, €10.24, €10.26, €10.27 would all be rounded either up or down to €10.25.

The Central Bank furthermore says there is currently €35.3m worth of 1c and 2c coins in Ireland – three times more than the average in other countries using the euro.

In Ireland, we also have a habit of hoarding copper coins in jars – an activity which ultimately proves costly.

Ronnie O'Toole told Morning Ireland on RTE Radio today: "We were producing them in huge numbers. Retailers were giving them to consumers; consumers were putting them in jam jars. Retailers were coming back to us and saying we need new 1c and 2c coins."

He went on to say that as a country we have produced around 2.5billion of the smaller coins since the launch of the euro: that's 1,500 for every household.

"People prefer not using them to actually using them and they have these stockpiled at home," he added.