Under the previous Government un-vouched expenses were paid to Ministers at a rate of €459.95 per fortnight. This allowance ceased to be payable in 2010 and consequently, no tax free allowance of that nature is available to me nor have any been available to me since taking up my post as Minister.
As the Deputy will be aware, Oireachtas expense allowances are exempt from taxation under section 836 of the Taxes Consolidation Act. Ministers and Ministers of State are entitled to the same allowances as Members of the Oireachtas with the some exceptions.
Ministers do not receive the Travel and Accommodation Allowance provided to Members of the Oireachtas. Since 1 May 2011 Cabinet Ministers with the exception of Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Law Reform now use their own cars on official business. All Ministers are now paid for official mileage up to 96,540 kilometres or 60,000 miles per annum. Ministers of State have used their own cars on official business since 1984.
Ministers do not receive overnight payments while in Dublin but when on official overnight business away from their home or headquarters may claim the vouched cost of a hotel room including tax and up to 15% in respect of any service charge. They may also claim an overnight subsistence allowance of €72.66.
Where a Minister participates in a visit abroad an allowance of up to a maximum limit of €190.46 may be claimed to cover additional costs that may arise such as, for example, the purchase of a gift for the Minister's counterpart.
Taxation is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners in the first instance. However, I understand that where office holders and employees necessarily incur expenses of travel and subsistence relating to that travel in the performance of the duties of their office or employment, the reimbursement of such expenses may, in certain circumstances be made tax-free.