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Curtin calls for publication of tax payments

Clare county councillors should be able to publicise what tax they pay on their statutory allowances and expenses, according to Councillor Christy Curtin.
Welcoming the publication of councillors’ expenses on the council’s website last week, Councillor Curtin said that it would be a worthwhile exercise if elected members were permitted to publish the tax they paid in a particular year.
However, the county council has decided that the publication of a councillor’s tax affairs is a private matter and haven’t included it on the website.
Councillor Curtin revealed he paid €5,000 to the taxman last year and suggested that other councillors should also consider publishing their own individual tax payments.
“I welcome the publication of the list of councillors’ expenses in the interest of openness and transparency. The expenses are there for anyone to view online. I drove over 4,000 miles last year attending conferences in various parts of the country,” he said.
Councillor Curtin’s comments came after Environment Minister John Gormley reduced the maximum amount a county councillor could claim annually in conference expenses from €7,500 to €4,700. An Ennis town councillor can now only claim €3,000 for attending conferences over a 12-month period, while the total amount for councillors in Kilrush and Shannon has been capped at €2,000. The maximum amount a Kilkee town councillor can now claim has been reduced to €1,000.
Clare county councillors’ salaries, which are taxable, dropped from €17,604 to €16,723.92 from January 1 this year.
Travel and subsistence allowances for county councillors were substantially reduced in April 2009. Previously, a councillor who stayed overnight for a conference had a subsistence rate of €140.44 and this has fallen to €108.99.
The night rate for a conference involving a stay for over seven hours went from €41.55 to €33.61, while the allowance for those away for over three hours is now €13.71, instead of €16.95.
Despite the cutbacks, councillors don’t have to provide receipts for these expenses, which are unvouched.
Mileage rates for the first 4,000 miles covered were also cut across the board.

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