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Know Your Rights January 2012

Know Your Rights: Changes to Child Benefit

I have four children. The last two are twins. What Child Benefit payment I will get in 2012?

Child Benefit is payable to the parents or guardians of children under 16 years of age. It is also payable where a child is under 18 years of age if the child is in full-time education, FÁS Youthreach training or has a disability. It was announced in Budget 2012 that the rates of payment of Child Benefit will be standardised for all children at €140 per child per month over the next two years.

Child Benefit stays at €140 per month for each of the first two children. From January 2012 the rate for the third child is reduced to €148 from €167 and for the fourth and each subsequent child to €160 from €177.

The additional monthly payment for twins and triplets continues. Child Benefit for twins is one and a half times the normal monthly rate for each child. In your case, since you have two children already, the twins are the third and fourth children in the family. Therefore the monthly payment for the twins is €222 (€148 x 1.5) and €240 (€160 x 1.5).

While the additional monthly payment for twins and triplets has been maintained, the grant of €635 paid at birth, at 4 years of age and at 12 years of age for these multiple births will no longer be paid.

The rates of Child Benefit payment for 2012 are as follows:

Number of Children Rates

1 Child

2 Children €280
3 Children €428
4 Children €588
5 Children €748
6 Children €908
7 Children €1,068
8 Children €1,228

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights: Universal Social Charge

Has there been any change to the Universal Social Charge in Budget 2012?


The Universal Social Charge (USC) is a tax payable on your gross income. It is also payable on notional income (benefit-in-kind payments) and it is deducted before pension contributions. All Department of Social Protection payments (including State pensions and Child Benefit) and similar payments (for example, CE schemes and Back to Education Allowance) and income on which DIRT has been paid are exempt from the USC.

Everyone (including medical card holders) is liable to pay the USC if their gross income is over a certain threshold in a year. For 2012, the income threshold has increased from €4,004 to €10,036. If your income is over €10,036 you pay the USC on all your income.

There is no change to the rates of the USC which are:
•    2% on the first €10,036
•    4% on the next €5,980
•    7% on the balance

People over 70 are not liable for the 7% rate but pay at 2% on income up to €10,036 and at 4% on all their income above €10,036.

Where a new employee is paying PAYE on an emergency basis, the emergency basis rate of the USC that applies is 7% and it applies to all of the salary/wage.

For 2012 the deduction of the USC has changed to a cumulative basis, similar to the manner in which PAYE is deducted. As with PAYE tax credits and rate bands, the USC rates and thresholds to be applied to employees will be issued to employers by the Revenue Commissioners on Employer Tax Credit Certificates (P2Cs).

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights: One-Parent Family Payment

I understand that a number of changes are being made to the One-Parent Family Payment. Can you please give the details?

One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) is a payment for men and women who are bringing children up without the support of a partner. To get this payment you must meet certain conditions and you must satisfy a means test.

For 2012, the upper age limit of the youngest child for new claimants is reduced from 14 years to 12 years of age. This new upper age limit does not apply to existing claimants. It is planned to reduce the youngest child age limit for new claimants to 7 years of age on a phased basis.

The means test for OFP has been amended from January 2012. When assessing the means of both new and existing claimants, the amount of earnings from employment or self-employment that is fully disregarded is reduced from €146.50 to €130.00 per week. Half the weekly earnings over this amount continue to be disregarded.

If you have earnings above €425 you are not entitled to OFP. Up to 2012, if you had been getting OFP for a continuous period of at least 52 weeks and your earnings went above €425, you were entitled to a transitional payment. The transitional payment was the same as one-half of your rate of OFP and was paid for 6 months. From January 2012, this transitional payment is discontinued. Existing recipients of the temporary payment are not affected.

Previously, if you were working and getting OFP you might qualify for half-rate Jobseeker's Benefit, Illness Benefit or Incapacity Supplement when you stopped working. From January 2012, these half-rate payments are not available to new applicants for Jobseeker's Benefit, Illness Benefit and Incapacity Supplement.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights: Mortgage Interest Relief

I'm confused about the changes that were made to Mortgage Interest Relief in Budget 2012. I'm a first-time buyer who started paying my mortgage in 2006. When will my entitlement expire and what rate of relief am I entitled to?

Tax relief for home mortgage interest is not given through the tax system but your mortgage lender gives you the benefit of the tax relief on the interest you pay. This is called tax relief at source or TRS. Your mortgage repayments are reduced by the amount of the tax credit due.

In Budget 2012 it was announced that qualifying loans taken out after 31 December 2003 and before 1 January 2013 will continue to get relief up to the end of 2017. This means that you will continue to qualify for relief at the applicable rate for the next 6 years. The relief will be abolished completely by the end of 2017.

The rate of mortgage interest relief for first-time buyers is 25% in years 1 and 2 of a mortgage, 22.5% in years 3, 4 and 5, and 20% for years 6 and 7. After 7 years the rate is the same as for non-first-time buyers at 15%.

However, if you are a first-time buyer who started paying your mortgage between 1 January 2004 and 31 December 2008, Budget 2012 provides for a special rate of mortgage interest relief of 30% for the tax years 2012 to 2017.

The amount of interest on which you can get relief is subject to upper limits as follows:

Single Married/in a civil partnership/ widowed/surviving civil partner
First-Time Buyer €10,000 €20,000

Non-First-Time Buyer

€3,000 €6,000

Adjustments to your tax relief should be made automatically by your mortgage lender. You don't need to claim relief on your annual tax return or to contact your local Revenue office.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Westmeath Citizens Information Service which provides a free and confidential service to the public.

Tel: 09064 78851
: Athlone Citizens Information Centre St Marys Square Athlone Co Westmeath.
Information is also available online at and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, Lo-call 0761 07 4000.

Archive of Citizens Information articles

posted: January 2014

Jan 7, 04:49 PM Know Your Rights January 2014

posted: November 2013

Nov 21, 03:44 PM Know Your Rights December 2013

posted: September 2013

Sep 25, 02:06 PM Know Your Rights October 2013

posted: August 2013

Aug 23, 10:28 AM Know Your Rights September 2013

posted: June 2013

Jun 19, 03:30 PM Know Your Rights July 2013

posted: May 2013

May 23, 11:52 AM Know Your Rights June 2013

posted: April 2013

Apr 24, 09:50 AM Know Your Rights May 2013

posted: March 2013

Mar 26, 10:03 AM Know Your Rights April 2013

posted: February 2013

Feb 21, 01:42 PM Know Your Rights March 2013

posted: January 2013

Jan 23, 03:53 PM Know Your Rights February 2013

Jan 7, 09:55 AM Know Your Rights January 2013

posted: November 2012

Nov 22, 12:01 PM Know Your Rights December 2012

posted: October 2012

Oct 24, 10:02 AM Know Your Rights November 2012

posted: September 2012

Sep 25, 01:25 PM Know Your Rights October 2012

posted: August 2012

Aug 22, 04:16 PM Know Your Rights September 2012

posted: July 2012

Jul 23, 03:13 PM Know Your Rights August 2012

posted: June 2012

Jun 22, 10:59 AM Know Your Rights July 2012

posted: May 2012

May 29, 11:07 AM Know Your Rights June 2012

posted: April 2012

Apr 25, 12:45 PM Know Your Rights May 2012

Apr 2, 02:44 PM Know Your Rights April 2012

posted: February 2012

Feb 21, 11:04 AM Know Your Rights March 2012

posted: January 2012

Jan 31, 02:33 PM Know Your Rights February 2012

Jan 4, 02:29 PM Know Your Rights January 2012

posted: November 2011

Nov 18, 11:29 AM Know Your Rights December 2011

posted: September 2011

Sep 20, 09:48 AM Know Your Rights October 2011

posted: August 2011

Aug 26, 02:59 PM Know Your Rights September 2011

Aug 2, 10:02 AM Know Your Rights August 2011

posted: June 2011

Jun 28, 03:54 PM Know Your Rights July 2011

posted: April 2011

Apr 27, 11:43 AM Know Your Rights May 2011

posted: March 2011

Mar 21, 12:30 PM Know Your Rights April 2011

posted: February 2011

Feb 22, 04:19 PM Know Your Rights February 2011

posted: January 2011

Jan 4, 11:02 AM Know Your Rights January 2011

posted: October 2010

Oct 29, 10:20 AM Know Your Rights November 2010

posted: September 2010

Sep 17, 04:15 PM Know Your Rights October 2010

posted: August 2010

Aug 31, 10:36 AM Know Your Rights September 2010

posted: July 2010

Jul 2, 10:15 AM Know Your Rights July 2010

posted: June 2010

Jun 4, 11:03 AM Know Your Rights June 2010

posted: April 2010

Apr 30, 11:47 AM Know Your Rights May 2010

Apr 6, 04:14 PM Know Your Rights April 2010

posted: March 2010

Mar 2, 02:16 PM Know Your Rights March 2010

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