“All animals are equal – but some are more equal than others”.

George Orwell’s famous truism springs readily to mind when reading the main news story in The Sunday Times, which reports the Taoiseach and some government ministers are still claiming the so-called ‘dual-abode allowance’ tax break reserved solely for senior politicians.

Although Enda Kenny when he was in opposition vowed to abolish the perk, apparently he is and will continue to claim the tax relief for his city centre apartment bought in 2004 with a Bank of Ireland mortgage. The allowance allows him to write off 100% of the cost of the mortgage interest in the apartment while he remains in office. He can also write off the cost of utility bills and maintenance.

The relief can also be claimed against the cost of renting an apartment or hotel room.

First introduced in 2002, the tax break is confined to ministers from outside of Dublin, and the attorney general. For those owning an apartment, the maximum claimable in any year without receipts is €6,350 – but more than this is available for those who can produce receipts proving higher costs.

Those who rent a second home are entitled to flat-rate relief of €4,500 if they can produce receipts. Hotel-dwellers can claim €3,500 – or more with receipts. The flat rate can also be claimed by ministers who choose to stay with friends or family in Dublin.

The Commission on Taxation has recommended ending the flat-rate payment for hotel rooms and a cap on payments for a second home.

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