He asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny if he was availing of it. “Who among his ministerial colleagues is availing of it?” he added. “How can he justify it to people at home who fear the introduction of the Government’s property tax on their family home when 13 of his Cabinet colleagues are writing off against their income tax bill the cost of a second home in Dublin?”
Mr Doherty said the tax break or “the dual abode allowance” was exclusively for Ministers and officeholders.
Those from outside Dublin, he added, were allowed to write off €6,500 against their income tax bill if they had a second home in the capital without having to provide a single receipt. If they did not have a second home in Dublin and stayed in a hotel, they could write off against their income tax bill €3,500 for having their laundry done and without having to give a receipt.
“When the Taoiseach was in opposition and Deputy Micheál Martin and his gang were availing of this lavish tax break, he promised to abolish it,” Mr Doherty added. “Since he has taken office, far from abolishing it, we have seen the cost increase by 30 per cent to €112,000.”
Mr Kenny said Mr Doherty claimed overnight allowances to which he was entitled. “They are a multiple of what any Minister, who does not receive overnight allowances, would claim,” he added.
He said most Ministers were 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 which, as he is aware, will be presented by the Minister for Finance next week,” he added.
Mr Doherty said Ministers must write to the Revenue Commissioners to ask that their income tax bill would be written down up to €6,500 in unvouched expenses. The Minister’s solicitor’s and auctioneer’s fees would be written off against tax.
“How many Ministers have availed of the €3,500 deduction for the purposes of having their laundry done because they stay in a hotel or a guesthouse?” he added.
Mr Kenny replied: “Ministers are entitled to an allowance of €6,000 which they can claim at the 41 per cent tax rate, which works out at approximately €3,500.
As a rural member, the deputy is in a position to claim approximately €30,000 or more.”