Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has published the Finance Bill, which gives effect to the measures announced in December's Budget.

These include the Special Assignee Relief Programme, which will give tax breaks to certain skilled individuals coming to Ireland to work for companies.

The minister said other countries operated similar schemes, adding that they can be a factor in influencing investment decisions by multinational firms.

The Minister said the IDA had identified that key executives in research and development are not coming to Ireland because of the income tax rates they had to pay.

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, Mr Noonan said the tax break will apply to people whose skills are not available in Ireland and approx 100 people are expected to avail of it.

It will also be open to Irish people living abroad and will run for three years.

The SARP scheme gives an exemption from income tax of 30% of salary between €75,000 and €500,000 for employees assigned for between one and five years.

The Bill also gives effect to other Budget day announcements, including an increase in mortgage interest relief to 30% for first-time buyers who bought homes from 2004 to 2008.

There are also some new measures, including 21 aimed at supporting the international financial services industry.

The minister said none of these had a significant cost, and most were aimed at simplifying the way complex transactions were taxed.

Compensation to turf-cutters for giving up the rights to cut turf in special conservation areas is to be made exempt from Capital Gains Tax.

Revenue is also to be given more powers when investigating serious tax offences.

Definition of bread changing for VAT purposes

The definition of bread is to be changed for VAT purposes to take account of the development of bread products for health, ethnic and other reasons.

Bread is currently zero-rated, and the new measure will bring bagels, baps, blaas, naan breads and pita bread into this category.

Other bakery products with excessively high levels of sugar and fat, such as croissants, brioche and danishes will remain outside the definition of bread and will be liable to VAT at either the 13.5% or 23% rate.

The Bill includes measures aimed at easing the significant tax liability facing some people in the public service because their pension benefits exceed a €2.3m threshold.

The Department said this is because those in the private sector can take steps to ensure they do not exceed the threshold.

The Capital Acquisitions Tax pay and file date will be moved back from 30 September to 31 October.

There are also changes to age-related income tax credits for health insurance, which were announced by the Health Minister late last year.

These credits will be in five-year bands for people between 60 and 84, with a separate band for those over 85.

The Bill also stipulates that significant buildings and gardens, spending on which is eligible for tax relief, must be open to the public during National Heritage Week each year.

While professional cricketers will be eligible for relief available to sportspersons on their retirement.

There will be a consultation process over changes to tax relief for charitable donations.

Opposition parties criticise elements of Bill

Fianna Fáil Finance spokesman Michael McGrath said the Finance Bill perpetuated the mistakes of a Budget that lacked imagination, although he welcomed some of its Research and Development provisions.

Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty claimed the Bill protected the wealthy and punished low and middle income families.

Mr Doherty criticised the tax break for high-earners moving to Ireland from abroad, describing it as "straight out of Charlie McCreevy's book of tax breaks".

Socialist Party leader Joe Higgins said the Bill would do nothing to tackle unemployment and would impose further burdens on the poor.