property perk | 

Revealed: Government ministers claim €260,000 in grants for second homes in Dublin

The claims resulted in tax write-offs of more than €103k for the politicians, each of whom already earn €141,000 to €183,000 a year

Stock photo

Ken Foxe

Government ministers have claimed almost €260,000 in a special allowance that allows them to buy or rent a second home in Dublin.

The Revenue Commissioners said between 10 and 14 ministers or ministers of state had been in receipt of the so-called “dual abode allowance” in each of the past four years.

The more than 40 claims made since 2018 resulted in tax write-offs of more than €103,000 for the politicians, each of whom already earn €141,000 to €183,000 a year, or more than €200,000 in the case of the Taoiseach and Tánaiste.

Revenue said fewer than 10 senior politicians had availed of the dual abode allowance, claiming €30,050 and resulting in tax savings of €12,020.

However, those figures are likely to rise as a four-year time limit is in place for the special tax break.

For 2020, 11 ministers or ministers of state took advantage, making claims totalling €61,598 and resulting in “tax foregone” by the exchequer of €24,640.

In 2019, there were 14 claimants, according to the Revenue, with their claims totalling €89,906 for tax breaks worth €35,962.

In 2018, 12 claims totalling €77,014 were made by senior politicians at a total cost to the taxpayer of €30,806.

The Revenue Commissioners said the figures were correct as of the beginning of April but were liable to change given the 48-month limit in which claims could be made.

Asked whether any consideration had been given to ending the perk for the already highly paid ministers, Revenue said tax policy was a matter for the Government.

It said the rules for the dual abode allowance were based on statute and there to help a minister or minister of state to “maintain a second residence” in addition to their family home. Revenue said the allowance could only be claimed for a second residence and could not be used to pay for the politician’s main place of residence.

A spokeswoman said the dual abode allowance could apply in three circumstances, including the purchase of a second house. “If the second residence is owned by the office holder, an allowance equivalent to the annual mortgage/home loan interest paid on the loan taken out to purchase the second residence can be claimed.” s he said.

“If the residence is acquired during the term of office, the costs of acquiring the residence other than the capital cost of the house may also be claimed, for example auctioneer fees, solicitors’ fees.”

Ministers and junior ministers can also claim the allowance for maintenance of the second residence to include “lighting, heating, repairs, insurance” and other such items.

The Revenue spokeswoman said: “As an alternative to vouched maintenance expenses, the office holder can claim a flat-rate allowance of €6,500 a year . Whichever method is adopted it is expected that it will be adhered to throughout the period of office.”

The allowance can also be claimed for rented accommodation or for maintenance of that property with a flat-rate allowance of €4,500 a year applying instead.

A third option for hotel or guesthouse accommodation is also available, which is designed to be “equivalent to the actual cost of room rental”.

When using accommodation providers of that type, the flat-rate allowance reduces to an annual rate of €3,500.

Revenue said ministers were also allowed to claim this lower flat-rate option when renting at the home of a “relative or friend”.

The Department of Finance said no discussions had taken place in recent years about ending the availability of the dual abode allowance.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said there were no plans to review the dual abode arrangements.

She said it applied to ministers who were members of Dáil Éireann and represented a constituency outside Dublin.

Today's Headlines

More Irish News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos