Government ministers have claimed almost €260,000 in special allowances to enable them to buy or rent a second home in Dublin.
Revenue commissioners said between 10 and 14 ministers or ministers of state had received the so-called ‘dual residence allowance’ in each of the past four years.
The more than 40 claims filed since 2018 have resulted in tax deductions of more than €103,000 for politicians, who are already earning each €141,000 to €183,000 per year, i.e. more … than €200,000 in the case of the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste.
Revenues said less than 10 senior politicians took advantage of the dual residence allowance, claiming €30,050 and resulting in a tax saving of €12,020.
However, these numbers are likely to increase as a four-year time limit is in place for the special tax relief.
For 2020, 11 Ministers or Ministers of State took advantage of this, making claims totaling €61,598 and resulting in a “tax waiver” by the Public Treasury of €24,640.
In 2019, there were 14 claimants, according to the tax authorities, with their complaints totaling €89,906 for tax benefits worth €35,962.
In 2018, 12 claims totaling €77,014 were filed by senior politicians at a total cost to the taxpayer of €30,806.
Revenue commissioners said the figures were correct at the start of April but were subject to change given the 48-month time limit within which claims could be made.
Asked if consideration had been given to ending the benefit for already very paid ministers, Revenue said tax policy was a government matter.
He said the Dual Residence Allowance rules were based in law and there to help a Minister or Minister of State to ‘maintain a second residence’ in addition to their family home. Revenues said the allowance could only be claimed for a second home and could not be used to pay for the politician’s main place of residence.
A spokeswoman said the dual residence allowance could apply in three circumstances, including the purchase of a second home. “If the secondary residence belongs to the holder of the charge, compensation equivalent to the annual interest on the mortgage/housing loan paid on the loan contracted for the purchase of the secondary residence may be claimed.” s he said.
“If the residence is acquired during the term of office, the costs of acquiring the residence other than the capital cost of the house may also be claimed, for example auctioneer’s fees, attorney’s fees.
Ministers and deputy ministers can also claim the secondary residence maintenance allowance to include “lighting, heating, repairs, insurance” and other similar items.
The tax office spokeswoman said: “As an alternative to justified maintenance expenses, the job holder can claim a lump sum compensation of €6,500 per year. . Whatever method is adopted, it is expected that it will be followed throughout the term of the mandate.
The allowance can also be requested for rented accommodation or for the maintenance of this property, a flat-rate allowance of €4,500 per year applying instead.
A third option of hotel or bed and breakfast accommodation is also available, which is designed to be “equivalent to the actual cost of renting a room”.
In the event of recourse to hosts of this type, the fixed compensation is reduced to an annual rate of €3,500.
Revenues said ministers were also allowed to claim this lower flat-rate option when renting from the home of a “relative or friend”.
The Department of Finance said there had been no discussions in recent years about ending the availability of the Dual Residence Allowance.
A spokeswoman for the Public Expenditure and Reform Department said there was no plans to review dual residency agreements.
She said this applied to ministers who were members of Dáil Éireann and represented a constituency outside Dublin.