I was very surprised yesterday to learn that the 2013 Finance Act proposes to scrap the existing tax exemption for Adoptive Benefit.
This benefit is paid to a newly-adopting parent for the first 24 weeks following the placement of their adopted child. To be eligible, the parent must have paid a certain number of PRSI contributions.
The maximum weekly Adoptive Benefit payment is €262, while lower rates are paid to adoptive parents who concurrently receive other benefits. Adoptive Benefit was previously exempt from income tax, but will become taxable from 1 July 2013, in common with Maternity Benefit and maternal Health and Safety Benefit payments.
While I have no issue whatsoever with the principle of PRSI contribution-based payments being taxed, I think the timing of this particular move is rather strange.
The recent McAleese Report into the Magdalen Laundries is a grim reminder of the Irish State’s sorry history of forcing children and vulnerable adults into institutional “care” settings that failed them terribly, often with dreadful long-term consequences.
Furthermore, the government is now considering proposals for abortion legislation, while statistics indicate that each year, several thousand Irish women obtain abortions in the UK.
In this context, I would have thought that our government policies should be geared where possible to encourage prospective parents to adopt children. Yet this tax measure is nothing less than an attack on prospective parents who wish to adopt a child.
Is it too much to ask Minister Noonan to reconsider it, before the Finance Act becomes law?