Revenue to collect new tax on property


THE CABINET at its final meeting before the summer break has confirmed the Revenue Commissioners will collect the new property tax which is to be introduced next year.

The Government spokesman said giving responsibility to the Revenue Commissioners “was deemed to be the most efficient way to collect the property tax”.

A detailed memo outlining how much the tax will be and how it is to be calculated will be brought to Government “very early in the new session”, he added. The next Cabinet meeting is scheduled for September 4th.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has received a report on property tax recommendations from an interdepartmental group chaired by former senior civil servant Don Thornhill, but this has not been presented to Cabinet.

Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State will take a 10 per cent reduction in mileage claimed from September 1st to take account of any “personal travel” incurred, it was agreed. This follows a review of ministerial transport by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.

Most Ministers had to give up their ministerial limousines last May, when their entitlement to avail of State cars and Garda drivers ended.

Civilian drivers, paid by the State, now operate Ministers’ own cars and get subsistence expenses.

Transport for Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter is provided by the Garda, so they do not make any claims or receive any mileage.

Reformed Freedom of Information (FoI) legislation will be drafted after Mr Howlin secured Cabinet approval. It will exclude commercial State bodies, although FoI will be extended to all other public bodies such as the National Asset Management Agency, An Garda Síochána and the Central Bank. Mr Howlin recently accepted a Fianna Fáil Private Members’ Bill on freedom of information.

The Cabinet approved the constituency boundary changes and the reduction in number of TDs contained in the recently published Constituency Commission report and Mr Hogan got approval to draft legislation to put the recommendations into effect.

Reform of public service allowances was discussed in general terms but no decisions were taken. A review of more than 800 allowances paid to public service staff has been carried out over recent months by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Proposals by Mr Hogan to abolish a number of town councils as part of a package of local government reforms were not discussed but “will be back for further discussion”. There was further discussion of progressing the plans for holding the children’s referendum before the year’s end.

Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore brought a joint memo to Cabinet aimed at maximising economic engagement with China. A number of ministerial missions and trade visits to the country will follow. Chinese vice-president Xi Jinping’s visit to Ireland in February was followed by Mr Kenny’s trip to China.

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said a proposal to tax child benefit for those earning more than €100,000 would be looked at but will not happen in the current budget discussions.

Ms Burton said yesterday’s Cabinet meeting was “pretty lengthy” with a “very heavy” agenda of about 70 items. “It was a very cordial atmosphere and at the end of the meeting the Taoiseach wished everybody well over the summer and the Cabinet departed on that note.” She described relationships around the Cabinet table as “cordial, collegiate, professional”.

Ms Burton said no decisions had been made in relation to budgetary matters, which would be the focus of detailed discussion at Cabinet in the autumn.

She said the International Monetary Fund, in a medium-term review, “threw out” a suggestion in relation to means-testing child benefit. She said means-testing “600,000 plus” families would be a very onerous job in terms of administration and could create a “very significant” disincentive to return to work.