Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Committee on Budgetary Oversight

Remit, Terms of Reference and Priorities: Commission on Taxation and Welfare

Professor Niamh Moloney:

Absolutely. Tax expenditures are a really important part of a tax system. Since we are taking a systemic view, in my head I think of all these clocks that are interacting with each other, in terms of bases and expenditures and so on, and what we end up with as all the clocks are moving together. Our terms of reference calls this out specifically, that we look at the process around which tax expenditures are reviewed. This is a very important analysis for us.

It is striking that we have in the region of 180 tax expenditures. They cost somewhere in the region of €7 billion. This is a core part of our tax system in the same way that the different bases are a core part of the tax system. It is important that we stand back and look at the system for doing this, in terms of the data that feed into tax expenditures, the process through which they are reviewed, what objectives they are designed to achieve and what metrics we use to assess those objectives. These are big questions.

I acknowledge the importance of the committee's work on this. It is very useful for us to have the committee's 2019 report into the tax expenditure process, which made eight recommendations on how one could think about tax expenditures. We are very grateful to have that. This is a really important area. In some respects, tax expenditures are very technical and specific, but what we need to do is to stand back and look at that as a system and how we can review and test them. We will be looking at tax expenditures. We are very grateful for the work done by the Committee on Budgetary Oversight in this regard, and we look forward to reflecting on it very seriously.