Measures to ensure people who are not on social welfare or paying tax get relief on water charges will be brought forward at the committee stage of the Finance Bill, the Finance Minister has said. 

This follows controversy when it emerged that thousands of people would not be able to avail of the relief because they are not on social welfare or earning enough to pay tax.

Michael Noonan announced the move as he published the Finance Bill, which gives effect to taxation measures announced in Budget 2015.

He said that Finance officials are working closely with their colleagues in the other relevant department and agencies to develop the processes that will be used to deliver the relief.

The Budget measures also include reducing the top rate of income tax from 41% to 40% while changes are also being made to the Universal Social Charge bands.

The Finance Bill will amend the country's company tax residence rules to make sure that all companies that are incorporated in Ireland will automatically be tax resident here - effectively ending the so called "Double Irish" tax loophole. 

The change will come into effect for new companies from January 2015, while a transition for companies already here will apply until 2020.

The Government will also extend and expand a special tax incentive scheme to attract foreign executives into Ireland. The Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP) is aimed at lowering the cost to the employer of bringing in highly skilled people from abroad to work here.

A relief from DIRT on savings used by first time buyers is also being introduced in reaction to the tightening of the loan-to-value mortgage requirements being imposed by the Central Bank. This will allow a first time buyer to apply for a refund of the DIRT they paid on interest earned on savings used for a deposit for a new home.

Other measures included in today's Finance Bill which were not announced on Budget Day include provisions which would treat "returns of value" payments of €1,000 or less made by Vodafone to its Irish shareholders as capital receipts for tax purposes unless shareholders opt to have the returns treated as income. 

The Minister said that since many small Irish investors are shareholders in Vodafone after their original investment in Eircom, and have seen losses as a result of that investment, the effect of the Bill's provisions would be that no tax would be due on the returns of value affected.

The Bill also includes amendments to close off a number of tax avoidance schemes which are linked to the use of Approved Retirement Funds and "vested" Personal Retirement Savings Accounts.

New rules on golf membership fees, VAT rates for tea and anti-avoidance legislation for taxes are also included.

"Budget 2015 is about securing this recovery, building for the future and broadening it to families across the country. Finance Bill 2014 gives effect to the tax measures that underpin our budgetary strategy," Minister Noonan said.

"We are now in the enviable position of being able to fund the costs of these Budget reforms and incentives through improved tax revenues arising from economic growth," he added.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton welcomed the bill, saying it delivered "a number of key measures" contained in his department's Entrepreneurship Plan.

He also said the bill would help clarify the situation for multinational firms based here or considering an investment in the future.

"Potential investors now know what Ireland’s corporation tax regime will look like in the aftermath of the BEPS process – they do not know that in respect of our competitors," he said.

"This brings us a real competitive advantage and makes my job a lot easier as I go into boardrooms with the IDA."