Kenny defends ministerial tax perk he vowed to axe
on 29/11/2012 00:00:00
However, finance department figures show 13 ministers availed of the allowance last year, costing the taxpayer €112,661.
Pearse Doherty, Sinn Féin finance spokesman, attacked the Taoiseach over the cost in leader's questions, saying that under the scheme, ministers who stay in a hotel can get the taxpayer to fork out for their dry cleaning.
The tax break for ministers from constituencies outside the capital entitles them to write off the costs of owning a second home in Dublin against their tax bill.
They can write off 100% of their mortgage interest and also claim for utility bills, repairs, and routine maintenance.
Brought in by Bertie Ahern in 2002, the maximum that can be claimed in relief without receipts is €6,350, but a higher sum can be written off if receipts are produced.
Ministers renting a second home, or staying in a hotel, can also claim, with the money refunded after they have paid their tax bill.
Mr Doherty said the perk was an outrage given the hardships expected to be announced in next week's budget.
"If ministers do not have a second home in Dublin and stay in a hotel, they can write off against their income tax bill €3,500 for having their laundry done and without having to provide a single receipt," said Mr Doherty.
Mr Kenny defended the perk, saying backbenchers could claim much more than ministers.
"The deputy claims the overnight allowances to which he is entitled. They are a multiple of what any minister who does not receive overnight allowances would claim.
"Most ministers are in Dublin four or five nights a week, depending on their schedule or duties. The matters mentioned by the deputy are part of what the Government is considering in respect of the budget," he told TDs.