Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Questions (157)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

157. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost of restoring trade union tax relief at the level it was at before its abolition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21607/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Tax relief on trade union subscriptions was discontinued in 2011. I am advised by Revenue that there are no current data available from tax returns on the number of taxpayers with union subscriptions, the cost of individual union subscriptions, nor the ability of taxpayers to absorb the credit. Therefore, there is no basis for Revenue to estimate a cost for this measure.

The cost of the relief up to its abolition was as follows:

Year

Exchequer Cost (€m)

Uptake

2010

26

337,500

2009

26.7

345,800

2008

26.4

341,900

2007

20.7

316,300

A review of the appropriate treatment for tax purposes of trade union subscriptions and professional body fees was carried out by my Department in 2016, and included in the 2016 report on tax expenditures published on Budget day 2016.

www.budget.gov.ie/Budgets/2017/Documents/Tax_Expenditures_Report%202016_final.pdf.

The review concluded that:

"...analysis of the scheme using the principles laid down by the Department’s Tax Expenditure Guidelines shows that it fails to reach the evaluation threshold to warrant introduction in this manner.

The reinstatement of this tax relief would have no justifiable policy rationale and does not express a defined policy objective. Given that individuals join trade unions largely for the well-known benefits of membership, and the potential value of the relief to an individual would equate to just over €1 per week, this scheme would have little to no incentive effect on the numbers choosing to join. There is no specific market failure that needs to be addressed by such a scheme, and it would consist largely of deadweight."

Given the conclusion of the review, I have no plans to reintroduce such a relief.