Tax breaks are costing the Exchequer billions of euro in revenue each year and encouraging income inequality, according to analysis by TASC.

A study of existing and past tax breaks by the think tank claimed that as much as €22.95 billion in revenue was lost to the Exchequer in 2014 due to 126 different tax breaks, reliefs, privileges or shelters.

It said that a further €157m million was missed that year due to what it calls ‘undead’ reliefs – or exemptions that were no longer open to new claimants but still in use by others.

TASC said that while some tax breaks – such as personal tax credits – were available to everyone others were limited to wealthy individuals and corporations, having been introduced on the back of lobbying by special interest groups.

It said that tax breaks tended to “spread” following introduction, as further lobbying see them become available to more people and firms.

“At worst, tax breaks that benefit business bring little or no actual benefit to their declared aim – yet they are a politically acceptable form of cash handouts to business,” said the report’s author Paul Sweeney, who is chair of TASC’s Economists’ Network.

“Because tax breaks shield so much of the income of the wealthy from tax, they undermine the effectiveness of the government’s efforts to reduce inequality.”

TASC has said the Government should only introduce new tax benefits following “careful evaluation” of their effectiveness, as well as their impact on income inequality.