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Mick Wallace tops up pay with €41,000 Dail perk

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Mick Wallace

Mick Wallace

Mick Wallace and his political ally Clare Daly. Photo: Tom Burke

Mick Wallace and his political ally Clare Daly. Photo: Tom Burke

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Mick Wallace

TAX cheat Mick Wallace is claiming an extra Dail allowance worth €41,000 -- after a year of not taking the cash.

The Irish Independent has learned that Mr Wallace started taking the controversial leader's allowance, which is unvouched and untaxed, in recent months.

But the Independent TD has refused to say if he decided to draw down the payment following revelations about his massive €2.1m tax bill.

Mr Wallace said in June he would give up half his €92,000 TD's salary to help pay his tax debt as part of an agreed settlement with Revenue.

But he did not mention the decision to start taking the €41,000 annual allowance, which is untaxed -- meaning that he is now effectively better off than he was last year in terms of the money he receives from the Oireachtas.

Mr Wallace was elected as a TD in February of last year but official figures show that he did not claim the allowance in 2011.

He has now started to take the allowance -- but is refusing to reveal when he made that decision.

The €41,000 which Mr Wallace is claiming is intended for purely political purposes. TDs are supposed to use it for research, constituency services and other functions.

All Independent TDs and senators have the money paid directly to them, while political parties get an allowance -- paid into central party funds -- based on the amount of TDs and senators they have.

However, parties have to tell the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) how they spend the money.

In contrast, Independents do not have to report to SIPO or produce receipts to account for how they spend the allowance -- and it is entirely untaxed.

Mr Wallace receives a further €27,000 per year, also untaxed, under the Parliamentary Standard Allowance (PSA) for TDs, which is for travel and other expenses, such as leaflets and office equipment.

Deputies have the choice of choosing a vouched or unvouched system for non-travel expenses. The Wexford TD chose the unvouched option.

He said he would give up half of his Dail salary in response to widespread public outrage when his tax dodging was made public in June.

Mr Wallace was listed as a tax defaulter, owing €2.1m to the Revenue Commissioners, after he had made a false declaration in respect of his M&J Wallace construction company

Outrage

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said it could not provide details of when exactly Mr Wallace started to draw down the €41,000 leader's allowance. It referred queries to Mr Wallace's office, but neither the TD nor his office replied by last night.

The department also said it would not comment on the amount of salary being gifted back to the State by anyone.

"As a matter of policy, this department does not reveal the identity of individuals who are gifting part or all of salary to the State; that is a matter of individual choice for the taxpayer in question," a spokeswoman said.

However, she added: "Deputy Wallace is in receipt of an allowance of €41,152 per annum under the party leaders' allowance legislation, the amount applicable to qualifying Independent TDs."

When asked if it could say when Mr Wallace began drawing the money down, the department said: "I'm afraid I must direct you to request the information you requested directly from the deputy."

Despite numerous requests over the past few days, no response was forthcoming from Mr Wallace or his office.

The most recent figures available show that until the end of last year, Mr Wallace was the only Independent TD or senator not drawing down the money.

His role in under-declaring €1.4m of VAT in his construction company caused a storm last June and there were calls for him to resign his Dail seat. He may also face a motion of censure in the Dail when it returns later this month.

However, the TD is at no risk of being removed from Leinster House on a permanent or temporary basis as the Dail can only express its disapproval of his actions.

Meanwhile, his political ally Clare Daly has attempted to get some of the funding that went towards the Socialist Party, now that she has become an Independent TD.

But party leader Joe Higgins said that whatever share of funding the party was given for Ms Daly would be returned to the taxpayer.

Irish Independent