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I COULD find no mention in the budget of the promised reform of TDs’ expenses.
Currently they receive a mix of untaxed, unvouched expenses and can also claim up to €41,092 a year under the special secretarial scheme by asking the supplier to send an invoice to the Dáil accounts office.
Under the “rules” they can claim just about anything under this scheme, including Christmas cards to constituents they have never met.
One Dublin deputy is reported to have spent close to €9,000 under this scheme “redesigning his website”.
The worst of these expenses is the tax-free “turning-up money” for Dublin TDs, currently €55 per day. This allowance was brought in many years ago when politicians were not well paid and is meant to be for travel and subsistence.
A TD has only to complete a form stating the time period involved and the number of days claimed for (not the actual dates).
Thus there is no way of checking whether the deputy was actually there or indeed how long he/she was on the premises.
Reasonably good attendees would clock up €14,000 a year tax-free on top of salary.
The average annual “turning-up” money claim exceeds the single person’s dole and other social welfare payments to those who have no other income.
Abolishing TDs’ expenses wouldn’t prevent the need for cuts which hurt the less well off but it would at least show a lead. But as they say, turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.
In 2008, political parties received €13.1 million of taxpayers’ money under the electoral acts and in party leaders’ allowances.
There is no need for individual TDs to have the range of allowances they currently enjoy as their parties should use the funding they get to pay appropriate expenses incurred by their deputies.
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