Thursday, 22 March 2012
Finance Bill 2012 (Certified Money Bill): Committee and Remaining Stages
Darragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
I move recommendation No. 8:
In page 11, before section 2, but in Chapter 1, to insert the following new section:
"2.--(1) On or before the end of each tax year the Minister for Finance shall set out the total amount of each of the following categories of public expenditure as a percentage of the total voted and non-voted current and capital expenditure for that tax year--
(a) voted capital expenditure,
(b) non-voted capital expenditure,
(c) total voted and non-voted current expenditure on pay and pensions,
(d) voted and non-voted current expenditure (non-pay) for Department of Social Protection,
(e) voted and non-voted current expenditure (non-pay) for Department of Health,
(f) voted and non-voted current expenditure (non-pay) for Department of Education,
(g) voted and non-voted current expenditure (non-pay) for Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform,
(h) voted and non-voted current expenditure (non-pay) for Department of Agriculture,
(i) voted and non-voted current expenditure (non-pay) for Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation,
(j) voted and non-voted current expenditure (non-pay) for Department of Children and Youth Affairs,
(l) all other voted and non-voted expenditure not included in the above categories.
(2) The Revenue Commissioners shall issue a communication, as soon as possible thereafter, to each taxpayer in the State setting out the following:
(a) the amount of income tax and universal social charge paid for the latest full tax year by the taxpayer;
(b) a percentage breakdown of the income tax and universal social charge paid by the taxpayer in pie-chart form, according to the categories set out in subsection (1).".
On behalf of the Fianna Fáil group, I will be brief. Several times, the House has discussed improving clarity in terms of where taxpayers' money goes. I am not referring to each individual specifically, but to the proportions of the tax a person pays that go towards social welfare, etc. Yesterday and in previous debates, Senator Bradford and others alluded to the budgetary process. The purpose of our recommendation is to ensure that we do not begin the process with the Estimates near the end of the year. Instead, we could keep track of performance in various categories. For the sake of transparency it is a useful suggestion and we should consider moving in that direction.
Following on from this, a breakdown of how a person's taxes are allocated between various services, from health to social welfare to pensions, could be provided to each individual in a P60 or P21 at the end of each year, whichever is appropriate to his or her tax status. We should consider adopting this approach without incurring an additional cost. I am not saying that, if an individual pays €50,000 in a given year, Revenue or the Department would set out that €5,000 of the person's tax went to this and €5,000 went to that. Rather, the ratios would be outlined.
Many people assert that we need the household charge to provide local services. This is true, but the link between tax and services or welfare is not made clear. At a time when the tax burden on citizens is increasing, greater clarity is important. I do not want to incur an extra cost for the Department or the Revenue Commissioners but our suggestion is possible. We know the Voted expenditure each year and the Minister for Finance knows the proportion of the revenues raised that is to be spent in each Department. It would be useful for taxpayers, be they self-employed, PAYE employees or proprietary directors, to be provided with the breakdown via their relevant tax documentation that they receive each year. People would then know where their money went.
I would appreciate it if the Minister considered our recommendation. It has value and merit and we would be open to tweaking it. I welcome the Minister's comments.