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Report exposes massive waste of public money in property-based tax reliefs

6 February, 2006

Commenting on the publication of the Department of Finance's Review of Property-based Tax Incentive Schemes, Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Finance spokesperson Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin said: "This report exposes the massive waste of public money involved in these property-based tax reliefs. They have rewarded developers and speculators and were introduced and continued without any cost-benefit analysis. Only now are we getting an estimate of their cost.

"The Report makes clear that these tax reliefs have been seen as primarily as incentives for the construction industry. But they have poured public money into a booming private sector for developments that would have happened anyway, as is clear from the Report. This is public money that should have been spent directly on providing the infrastructure and social services we need. Instead it has mostly benefited individuals whom the Report estimates earn at least €100,000 per year.

"€37 million has been spent on tax breaks for Private Hospitals, thus rewarding the wealthy operators of the thriving private health industry and reinforcing the two-tier public-private system. No public money should have been spent on private hospitals yet the Finance Bill actually extends this tax relief.

"Almost €330 million in tax reliefs has been given to developers of private hospitals, private nursing homes, hotels, holiday cottages and multi-storey car parks. While this Report pulls its punches it can only be read as a damning indictment of Government policy when it recommends that 'the decision to introduce any new tax incentives should be informed by a formal assessment of the likely costs and benefits'. That such a recommendation has to be made now so many years after these reliefs were introduced is a scandal." ENDS

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