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Government can’t account for lost revenue from 1 in 3 Tax Breaks - Doherty

8 June, 2011 - by Pearse Doherty TD


Sinn Fein Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has described as “absolutely incredible” the revelation that the Government does not know how much tax revenue is lost to the state from 33 of the 115 tax breaks currently in operation.

The revelation came in an exchange between Deputy Doherty and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan during Ministers Questions on Wednesday 7th June. The Minister admitted that his department was unable to provide costings for 33 tax breaks.

Deputy Doherty said:

“At a time when the Government is scrutinising every single penny of public expenditure, it is absolutely incredible that the Department of Finance is unable to provide costings for almost 1 in 3 tax breaks currently in operation.

“The Minister for Finance this week admitted his department does not know how much tax revenue is lost to the state from 33 of the 115 tax breaks currently in operation. He said that the primary reason is that these tax breaks brought in small amounts of money and that the administrative cost of collating data could be prohibitive.

“However when pressed on the matter he admitted that one such break, the mid-Shannon tourism infrastructure scheme, cost the state €700,000 a year. This is hardly a small amount of money.

“Indeed three quarters of a million euros would provide 50,000 Special Needs Assistants hours, which would have a huge impact on the well-being of thousands of children who have had their access to this vital service reduced in recent years.

“The last comprehensive study of the cost of tax breaks to the exchequer was produced in 2010 by the Trinity College Policy Institute. It estimated that in 2006 the state lost more than €11.5 billion from 89 tax breaks then in operation. A further 44 breaks were in operation that year for which no costing were available.

“At a time when the Government is cutting funding to front line services such as home helps, special needs assistants and family carers it is simply unacceptable that the Department of Finance and the Minister Michael Noonan does not know the cost to the exchequer of these tax breaks.

“I am calling on the government to conduct a full audit of all tax breaks currently in operation including an assessment of their cost as well as the social and economic benefits to the state.”

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