Dáil discusses Bill aimed at showing how people's taxes are spent

Friday 09 November 2012 23.43
Eoghan Murphy prepared the Tax Transparency Bill
Eoghan Murphy prepared the Tax Transparency Bill

Legislation to give taxpayers a detailed break down of how their contributions are being used by Government has received the support of all parties during a Dáil debate.

Earlier, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said the Government would the Tax Transparency Bill, which would allow people see in detail how their taxes are spent by the State.

Eoghan Murphy, who prepared the Bill, said taxpayers had a right to know how the Government is spending taxes.

Mr Noonan said better-informed taxpayers enhance democracy and the Bill is a valuable contribution to the advancement of better tax compliance.

There was cross-party support for the proposed legislation.

Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said he was  concerned that the measure might prove socially divisive given high-unemployment levels.

However he said his party would be supporting the Bill.

Mr McGrath challenged the Government to either accept it and move to enact it, or reject it out of hand, citing recent examples of backbench sponsored legislation that had been allowed to gather dust.

Similar legislation is being planned in Britain from 2014.

Mr Murphy said the move would clearly identify government priorities to individuals in euro and cent and create a better informed electorate.

An element of the proposed legislation includes an online tax calculator to see how the VAT and excise duty contribution each person makes are being used.

It also includes an obligation on each government department to outline all items over €5,000 paid by them.

Some departments already disclose spending above €20,000.

Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said his party would also support the Bill.

He said that the proposals should be a matter of course and queried the need to convene parliament to debate the matter.

He said people should not receive such statements unsolicited given the cost burden to the State.

People Before Profit's Richard Boyd Barrett said he is also supporting the Bill and said it would show how much of taxes are going to bail out the banks.

Mr Barrett said it would be a good idea to include a pie chart showing what sectors of society are paying the tax, citing the effective tax rate differences between what individuals pay and what the corporate sector pays given their respective earnings.

Mr Noonan expressed concern about the additional burden that might be placed on the Revenue, but added that the proposal is one that should be considered further in the Houses of the Oireachtas.

He said that a P60 might contain a website reference where taxpayers could obtain additional information that would show taxpayers how their tax money is being spent and allow them to assess value for money.