Relief on politicians’ expenses ‘unfair’

NATIONAL politicians should not be entitled to tax relief on lucrative expenses of which the public cannot avail.

And non-Dublin ministers who run second homes in the capital should not be allowed claim open-ended relief.

According the Commission on Taxation the unvouched expenses system for office-holders with second homes should be capped. The tax-free status applied to the expenses clocked up by TDs and senators was an unfair perk. “In the interests of equity, it is desirable that allowances paid to members of the Oireachtas be treated in the same way under the tax code as allowances paid to employees generally.”

This emerged as the watchdog for the Oireachtas expenses’ regime announced he will step down in protest at the lack of reform.

Yesterday the Oireachtas Commission, which is chaired by Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue, confirmed Tom O’Higgins will resign as a member of its audit committee at its next meeting.

Mr O’Higgins, formerly a senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, was reported to have been put off by the reluctance among members of the Oireachtas to vouch for expenses with receipts. The Oireachtas said reform was already in train and 10% in cuts were proposed and agreed by the Department of Finance.

But the Commission on Taxation said the perks system should be changed.

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