Over €8m paid to staff in foreign affairs is untaxed


MORE THAN €8 million in allowances paid to Department of Foreign Affairs staff posted abroad is not taxed, it has emerged.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore told the Dáil in an answer to a parliamentary question that about 325 staff shared €2.394 million in cost-of-living allowances and a further €5.557 million in local post allowances last year. He said both of these payments were untaxed.

Mr Gilmore said the cost-of-living allowance was designed to defray costs associated with living in cities where the cost of living was higher than in Dublin, based on data provided by an independent external consultancy.

He said because the payment was linked to salary and notional net take-home pay, it had been reduced in line with salary reductions in the Civil Service and with taxation increases in recent years.

“Local post allowance [LPA] provides assistance towards the additional indirect costs arising from the representative role of officers . . . Officers serving in designated ‘hardship’ posts may also be entitled to a hardship allowance . . . this hardship element takes account of factors such as personal security and political tension, health, environmental factors, climate and isolation.”

Mr Gilmore said that just over €700,000 paid in child foreign allowance to 128 staff posted abroad was also untaxed.

He said this allowance compensated officers for additional costs incurred with regard to children aged under 18 or under 21 where they were in full-time education.

The Minister also said that 60 departmental staff and their families shared €140,109 in an untaxed “detention allowance”, payable for a limited period while they were seeking accommodation or taking up duty overseas.

A further €280,237 was paid to about 57 staff and their families as a “disturbance allowance” to assist with costs associated with a return from a posting abroad. He said this payment was also untaxed.

Mr Gilmore also said the show allowance of €60 annually, paid to 28 service officers in his department, was also untaxed. He said a clothing payment of up to €2,000 paid to the chief of protocol in his department was also untaxed.

Information provided by a number of Ministers indicated that at least 70 people across the Civil Service were receiving a taxable key-holder allowance of between €1,727 and €1,861 annually.

The partial figures showed that at least 49 staff were receiving a taxable franking machine allowance of between €1,701 and €1,789 a year.

Separately, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said that in the recent review, Government departments had not been obliged to provide business cases for “personal-to-holder” or “legacy” allowances as these were ring-fenced and not available to any new beneficiaries.

These included child allowance of €113 per annum paid to staff in certain grades employed before December 1978 and allowances of up to €234.91 a fortnight paid to former Revenue Commissioner staff who moved under the decentralisation process.

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