There has been lots of discussion around the VAT rate levied on the tourism industry in recent weeks - but there are plenty of other business-related taxes, charges and reliefs that could form part of Budget 2019.

However given the relatively limited 'fiscal space' - and demands coming from areas like housing and health - firms shouldn't expect too much of a boost from the measures announced later today.

"I think the Budget is very much around people and services and I think for businesses, certainly in terms of what's already been flagged, it's very much focused on the VAT rate for the hospitality sector and potential increases in excise duty on diesel," said Kevin McLoughlin, who's head of tax at EY Ireland.


That is not to say that business-focused changes will be completely absent from the Budget arithmetic - though they will sit at the relatively smaller end of the scale.

One change that has been taking place over a number of budget has been an attempt to bring self-employed taxation in line with PAYE workers and this may well continue into 2019.

"This an ongoing debate around the differences in treatment between self-employed and employed and some of that is around tax rates," Mr McLoughlin said. "One of those features is an increase in the self-employed credit, essentially, which is expected today."

Another expected measure relates to Capital Gains Tax and a relief introduced for entrepreneurs in 2014. It is designed to encourage people to reinvest what they might make from the sale of their business in Ireland - rather than taking that money elsewhere.

At present the Irish system has a limit of €1m - but Britain's equivalent regime is capped at £10m. The Minister for Finance may seek to improve the Irish offer in order to compete.

"I think this is something that entrepreneurs would be looking for and it's just a big disparity between the scheme that operates here and the one that operates in the UK," he said. "It's not necessarily about the relief, it's about really trying to maximise the amount of cash that can be reinvested.

"Entrepreneurs have proven that, when they exit, 90% of them will reinvest in and create employment."

Changes could also be introduced to the relatively new 'Key Employee Engagement Programme', which was introduced to allow firms to reward employees with shares in the business.

Anecdotal reports suggest that there has not been much take-up of that scheme so far, so it may be adjusted in order to make it more attractive than before.

Overall, though, Mr McLoughlin says that companies will be looking for any measures that might boost or maintain competitiveness in Ireland - while anything that helps in terms of Brexit preparations will also be welcomed.

"Obviously the broader competitiveness of the economy, which includes investment in infrastructure, education, training, transport - but probably the critical area for businesses at the moment is people," he said.

"Some of that is around further investment in education and training to ensure that we're building that workforce of the future and some of it is in anticipation of things like Brexit," he added.

MORNING BRIEFS - The International Monetary Fund has cut its forecast for global growth and warned that trade tensions between the US and China could make the world poorer and more dangerous. The body now anticipates growth of 3.7%this year and next - which is down 0.2 percentage points on its July prediction. For Ireland, however, the IMF has raised its 2018 forecast by 0.2 percentage points. It now expects GDP growth of 4.7% this year, while it also predicts lower unemployment this year and next.

*** Insurer Aviva has announced that its CEO is to step down from the role. Aviva said that Mark Wilson was appointed in 2013 to deliver a turnaround of the business - and as that has been successfully completed - it was time for new leadership at the group.

***  Google has said that the data of 500,000 users may have been exposed to third parties. The data was on its failed social media platform Google Plus - which is now set to be shut down.

***LinkedIn has pre-let a 150,000 square foot office block in Dublin city centre that is due to be completed in late 2020. One Wilton Park is being redeveloped by IPUT. It is next to LinkedIn's 17,650 square foot EMEA headquarters, which opened last year.