Former tánaiste Mary Coughlan was one of several senior government to officials to claim a little-known tax break, which saved them an average of just under e5,000 each per year.
A report in the Sunday Independent reported that ministers and junior ministers claimed over e500,000 in the past six years for maintaining second homes in Dublin. The Dual Abode Scheme allows ministers and junior ministers who live outside Dublin to claim tax breaks on their accommodation in the capital, irrespective of whether it is a second home, rental or hotel accommodation. The scheme also allows claims for the maintenance costs of the scond residence as well as auctioneers’ and solicitors’ fees, if the house is purchased while the minister is in office.
When Labour’s Ciaran Lynch raised the issue in the Dáil last week, he was told that more than a dozen ministers and ministers of state have claimed more than e500,000 over the past six years alone. In 2003, nineteen ministers claimed a total of e109,450, while in 2007, sixteen ministers made claims totalling just over e88,000. Mary Coughlan was among among eleven former government ministers who claimed almost 51,000 in tax breaks for keeping second homes in Dublin.
Mr Lynch commented: “In a situation where clerical workers in the offices of these ministers are being docked with heavy pension levies, this is surely a perk too far.”