In response to the Deputy’s question I have considered the provision of tax relief for donations to political parties and have decided against introducing such relief. The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012 provided for changes to the Electoral Act, 1997 and imposed new limits for donations. Donations to individuals exceeding €600 must be declared and donations exceeding €1,000 in any one year may not be accepted. Political party donations greater than €1,500 must be declared and donations greater than €2,500 in any one year may not be accepted. These limits, in themselves, should act to deter any attempts by wealthy individuals to influence political activity. The Office of the Revenue Commissioners have provided me with the following information in relation to Revenue issues raised in the recommendations of the Moriarty Tribunal.
Recommendation: Independence of the Revenue Commissioners
Section 101 of the Minister and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 2011 has placed on a statutory basis the independence of the Revenue Commissioners in the exercise by the Commissioners of their statutory functions under the various taxation and customs enactments. This has given effect to the recommendation of the Report of the Tribunal into Payments to Politicians and Related Matters (that is, the report of Mr. Justice Moriarty), that the principle or convention of the independence of the Revenue Commissioners be placed on the more robust status of a legislative provision.
Recommendation: Representations to Revenue by Office holders
In relation to this proposal I as Minister for Finance remain of the view that this recommendation could best be considered in the context of the Government’s overall approach to political and parliamentary reform. Representations are a valid part of the political process. The Government may wish to consider whether this recommendation should be confined to Revenue, or to Office holders, or whether the Commissioners decision to publish data on the volume of representations made by each Deputy is an adequate response.
Recommendation: Transmission to other agencies of information obtained by Revenue under bilateral agreements.
This recommendation has been considered. These agreements are important for Irish business, for the transparency of the Irish taxation system, and for tax administration in relation to businesses and individuals which operate across 2 or more jurisdictions. Ireland’s bilateral agreements comprise double taxation conventions and tax information exchange agreements. (TIEAs) Ireland’s agreements are based on OECD models which are considered to be best practice and which do not provide for such a protocol. While they provide for various forms of information exchange, they contain a very strong taxpayer confidentiality provisions, and restrict the use of the information to tax assessment and collection purposes.
Expanding Ireland's Tax Treaty and TIEA Network has been a strategic objective which Revenue has successfully pursued and such agreements can only be made if the other State agrees. If opportunities arise in the future, the Commissioners will consider the matter further.