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Sunday 19 November 2017

Ahern gets tax-free writer perk

Andrew Bushe

THE Revenue Commissioners have granted former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern tax-free status under the artists' exemption scheme for earnings from his autobiography.

Mr Ahern will not have to pay income tax on an estimated €100,000 advance payment made to him by his publisher Random House, although the book had disappointing sales.

If he hadn't been granted the artists' tax-free status, Mr Ahern would have to pay around €51,000 in income tax, the health levy and the new income levy on his advance, according to one financial expert.

The former Taoiseach is among 33 writers added to the list of artists entitled to the tax-free status under the scheme introduced by the late Charles Haughey 40 years ago.

Sources in publishing say he was given an advance payment of more than €100,000 to write his autobiography and Random House has lost money on the book.

"It sold 30,000 copies and Random House would have had to sell at least 40,000 copies to make money on the deal after Mr Ahern's advance and other costs are taken into consideration," said a senior source in publishing. No spokesperson from Random House was available for comment.

The Revenue Commissioners reduced the tax-free cap to €125,000 in the Budget in December. In 2006, they introduced a limit of €250,000 on tax-free earnings under the artistic exemption.


The source added that Mr Ahern's autobiography had sold just 1,000 books in the week before Christmas -- the biggest week of the year for sales.

Mr Ahern would have had to apply to the Revenue Commissioners for tax-free status and his book would have had to be judged as "original and creative" and "generally recognised as having cultural or artistic merit" to be successful.

Mr Ahern is amongst 69 new additions to the list of tax-free artists, including 33 other writers, 18 painters, five playwrights and script writers, three musicians, three installation artists, three photographers, two sculptors and one illustrator.

Publisher Random House describes the book as "frank and revealing" and giving the "truth behind the man who is Bertie" for the first time.

Mr Ahern joins his daughter and bestselling author Cecelia Ahern on the exemption list. She was granted the perk for her earnings from her novels and later for her first play.

The success of her books since she first published 'PS, I Love You' at the age of just 21 have made her one of the country's wealthiest writers.

Others writers getting the perk are Cork hurling star Donal Og Cusack for 'Come What May', which revealed he is gay; Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody for his autobiography; Frank Lahiffe for 'Seamus Brennan, A Life in Government'; RTE newsreader Michael Murphy for 'At Five in the Afternoon, My Battle with Male Cancer'; and publisher John Mulcahy for his first novel, 'Union'.

Irish Independent

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