As I indicated in my reply to the Deputy's question in April last, 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.
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."
Regarding the issue of tax relief on subscriptions to professional bodies, I refer the deputies to the section of the review which addressed this matter, stating:
"There is a fundamental difference between membership of a professional body which is required to practice that profession and membership of a trade union, which is essentially, a personal choice.
Professional bodies often have a regulatory function, governing standards within a particular sector or industry, with practitioners or employees often required to be a member of a professional body in order to engage in employment in particular fields.
A person cannot be refused the right of employment for failure to join a trade union. By contrast, a person can be refused the right of employment as a solicitor, for example, if they fail to hold a practicing certificate."
My position remains that, given the conclusion of the review, I have no plans to reintroduce such a relief.