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Snippet Contents:

I am glad to have the opportunity to make a brief contribution on the Finance Bill 2014. The Bill implements the majority of the taxation changes announced by the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, in his Budget Statement of 14 October. Today, Deputy Eoghan Murphy suggested a change in approach in how budgets were invigilated by this Parliament and spoke about the need for a stronger Parliament overall. His comments in this regard are reflective of the views I have long expressed in the House, on approximately 24 Finance Bills. This is the 24th time I have been asked to invigilate the debate on the Finance Bill.
I hope we will begin to receive more detailed budgetary information earlier in the year. Perhaps we might use the approach adopted by the Australian and Dutch Parliaments in order that Deputies can make an informed contribution to the debates on both the budget and the Finance Bill. While the Minister did provide outline costings for the new measures contained in budget 2015 which are instructive, there is still a disappointing and frustrating dearth of information on the macro position in regard to costings for many tax expenditures in this and earlier Bills.
Tax breaks have always played a prominent role in the Irish taxation system and the history of the State. For many years, colleagues in this House and I have demanded that tax expenditures be regarded simply as Government spending programmes and not effectively as a series of measures which are revenue neutral. Many studies, in particular the work of TASC by O'Connor, Staunton, Sweeney and O'Donnell in recent times, have shown that the costs and benefits of tax breaks are not uniform in their application across the people and households. The ESRI has noted, for example, that 80% of the benefit of pension tax reliefs goes to the top two deciles of income.