Gardai face tax hike of €2,000 with ruling on allowances
GARDAI soon expect to be forced to pay tax for the first time on dozens of allowances claimed to cover the cost of uniforms and carrying out specific duties.
Revenue Commissioners are investigating if some of the 46 extra allowances which can be claimed by members of the force should be classed as income, and are expected to rule in the coming months that a tax bill does arise.
A ruling that the allowances should be treated as taxable income would mean an additional tax bill of more than €2,000 for every garda.
Almost €1bn has been paid in allowances since 2007, with €100m paid so far this year.
The payments are made to cover the cost of clothing including boots, with special payments applying for working unsocial hours and performing specific duties including immigration control at airports.
Tax officials have been investigating the payments for the past year and have targeted many as being liable for tax.
Some of the payments are included in salary when calculating pensions, and talks between garda management and revenue officials are ongoing.
"There's no determination made, it is something that Revenue is looking at," a spokesman for the Garda Representative Association (GRA) said yesterday. "We're just waiting to find out (the decision)."
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) could not be reached for comment.
But senior officers believe that tax officials are likely to rule that some of the payments are liable for tax.
"Revenue are conducting an examination of the various allowances for about a year," one source said.
"Some or a portion are pensionable, and there has been quite a number of discussions over the last year. At the end of the day, it's up to the Revenue to decide. These allowances were introduced for good reasons and why would they be deemed taxable now when they weren't in the past?
"Revenue will probably say that that some are taxable."
Details of the probe are contained in a report of the audit committee of An Garda Siochana.
"Full co-operation is being given to Revenue and active discussions are continuing," according to the report.
The Revenue Commissioners said it did not comment on individual cases.
The most costly allowance is for rent, which is worth just over €4,000 to each garda annually, and which costs the State up to €60m a year. Senior gardai including superintendents are paid another €8,000 a year to be available to work outside normal office hours, and are likely to be hardest-hit by any changes. Rank-and-file gardai also get extra payments to work nights and weekends.