Written answers

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

8:00 pm

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal South West, Sinn Fein)
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Question 132: To ask the Minister for Finance if he will abolish the dual abode allowance for Ministers; the way the relief is availed of; the allowances that can be availed of; the way it is vouched; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36073/11]

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal South West, Sinn Fein)
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Question 133: To ask the Minister for Finance the number of persons who availed of the dual abode allowance for Ministers in each year since it was introduced; the value of the allowance that was availed of each year; the Ministers who availed of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36074/11]

Photo of Michael NoonanMichael Noonan (Minister, Department of Finance; Limerick City, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 132 and 133 together.

The dual abode allowance is granted under Rule 3 of Schedule 2 of the Income Tax Act 1967 (now Section 114 of Taxes Consolidated Act 1997) and provides that where, arising out of his or her duties, a Minister (who is a member of Dáil Eireann for a constituency outside of Dublin) maintains a second residence in addition to his or her main residence, then that Minister may, by way of written claim to Revenue, claim a tax deduction in respect of that second residence.

The relief that can be availed of is as follows:

§ Where Ministers own a second property in Dublin, a tax deduction can be claimed in respect of the amount of the annual interest actually paid on any loan taken out to purchase the second residence. In addition, Ministers can claim a deduction for the actual vouched costs expended in maintaining the second residence. Examples of maintenance costs in such circumstances are lighting, heating, repairs and insurance. As an alternative to vouched maintenance expenses, a tax deduction may be claimed on an amount of €6,500 per annum.

· If the second residence is rented accommodation, Ministers can claim for the actual cost of renting the accommodation (i.e. the annual rent). In addition, Ministers can claim a tax deduction for the actual vouched costs expended in maintaining the second residence. Examples of maintenance costs in such circumstances are lighting, heating and insurance of contents. As an alternative to vouched expenses, a tax deduction may be claimed on an amount of €4,500 per annum.

· If Ministers use hotel or guesthouse accommodation as a second residence, they can claim for the actual cost of room rental (i.e. the annual hotel/guest house bill excluding meals, etc). In addition, they can claim for the actual vouched additional costs associated with maintaining a second residence in a hotel. Examples of maintenance costs in such circumstances are laundry, etc. As an alternative to vouched expenses, a tax deduction may be claimed on an amount of €3,500 per annum.

As to the vouching of claims, I am further informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, as with all tax reliefs and credits, from time to time, receipts are requested to substantiate claims. For reasons of confidentiality, the Revenue Commissioners cannot reveal the identities of the claimants or the amounts availed of by the individual claimants. The years for which statistics are available are set out in the tabular statement.

YearNumber of ClaimantsCost
1998/199919€160,570
1999/200019€142,134
2000/200110€79,943
2001Short tax year no details available
200218€95,051
200319€109,540
200413€63,448
200518€93,471
200618€107298
200716€88,335
200819€74,770
200914€74,996.

Figures for 2010 are not yet available as Returns of Income for 2010 are in the process of being submitted and processed. No doubt the Deputy is aware that overnight expenses are not paid to Office holders. Such expenses apply only to Deputies who are not Office holders. It is a longstanding practice of the Minister for Finance not to comment in advance of the Budget on any tax matters that might be the subject of Budget decisions.

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