The Government should draft new laws to block RTÉ top presenters being paid through private companies instead of as staff members, amid repeated claims the purpose is to “reduce their exposure to income tax”.
The Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will today make the controversial demand in its latest quarterly review report, advising the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has an obligation to taxpayers to tackle the situation.
In a final draft copy of the 73-page report, seen by the Irish Examiner and to be published this morning, PAC members will say that despite long-term concerns over the issue, presenters are stilling being paid significant sums through technically external companies.
And, noting recent RTÉ confirmation to the PAC that 81 workers are set up as private limited companies — including four earning more than €300,000 a year and 10 more than €100,000 — the report will insist action should be taken to clarify the issue.
“The Eversheds Sutherland report into the use of contracts for services by RTÉ has recommended RTÉ introduce a clear policy and guidelines regarding the use of contracts for services, and that it reviews 157 of the 433 contracts examined,” the report suggests.
“On the basis of the evidence presented to the committee, the creation of limited companies by RTÉ’s top earners is used primarily for the purpose of reducing their exposure to income tax, which comes at a cost to the exchequer. The committee recommends that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform brings forward proposals to address this practice,” the final draft of the PAC report reads.
The PAC’s latest quarterly review report has also raised a number of other concerns over the use of taxpayers money that the committee examined in public meetings between April and May.
The issues do not include the cervical cancer scandal as the PAC meetings were convened after May,
The report is understood to also say that:
The PAC report will also criticise Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s now-scrapped strategic communications unit and accuse the chief State solicitor’s office of costing the taxpayer at least €4m due to a botched probation service building deal.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved