THE TAOISEACH has defended a tax system which allows ministers to seek an income tax deduction to cover the cost of taking a second residence in Dublin – but has said the government is “considering” the matter ahead of the Budget.
Enda Kenny told Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty that government ministers from outside Dublin receive an allowance of €6,000, which is taxed at 41 per cent, and therefore leaves them with just over €3,500 to cover the cost of maintaining a second home in the capital.
This is not the case, however: ministers from outside Dublin are actually entitled to have their income tax liability lowered by €6,500, in respect of their mortgage and the costs of maintaining a second home in the city.
Doherty, standing in for Gerry Adams in this morning’s Leaders’ Questions, had demanded to know if Kenny himself was availing of this system, or a similar one which allows a €3,500 tax rebate for hotel and related costs, such as laundry.
“Are you one of the 13 ministers who are availing of this tax break? Which of your ministerial colleagues are availing of this tax break?” Doherty asked.
“How can you justify [this] to the people at home, who are fearing the introduction of the household tax on their family home… [when 13 ministers] are writing off their income tax for a home in Dublin?”
Kenny said most ministers were required to be in Dublin for four or five days each week, but said the annual amount that non-ministerial TDs can receive under their parliamentary expenses system – which ministers are not entitled to – is “a multiple” of what ministers receive.
“These matters that you mention are all part of what [the] Government are considering, in respect of the Budget,” Kenny said.
Doherty said the allowance was one that Kenny had promised to abolish while he was himself in opposition, “when this gang” – pointing at the nearby Fianna Fáil contingent – “was availing of it”.