No plans to cut generous art donation tax relief
Lochlann Quinn: ranked as Ireland's 50th richest man
THE new Government has no plans to abolish a tax scheme which has resulted in millions of euro in reliefs being given to a brother of Education Minister Ruairi Quinn.
Lochlann Quinn, the chairman of the ESB and one of Ireland's richest men, has received handsome tax exemptions for donating art to state galleries.
Dozens of other donors, many of whom have chosen to remain anonymous, have also availed of the scheme, documents obtained by the Irish Independent reveal.
The tax break is contained in the 1997 Taxes Consolidation Act, which was instigated by Mr Quinn's brother Ruairi when he was Finance Minister in the mid-1990s.
Despite commitments by Fine Gael and Labour to close various tax loopholes, the relief for donating art is not on the chopping block, according to sources in both parties.
The scheme allows a person who donates a piece of art to receive tax credits worth 80pc of the value of the item donated. For items donated prior to 2009, the tax credit is worth 100pc of the value of the artwork.
Lochlann Quinn qualified for millions of euro in tax exemptions under the scheme after donating more than a dozen paintings over the past decade.
These include Louis le Brocquy's 'A Family', valued at €2.7m when donated in 2002; and Philip Taaffe's 'Cape Siren', valued at almost €220,000 when donated by Mr Quinn and his wife Brenda in 2008.
Mr Quinn defended the scheme last night, saying it had greatly benefited state galleries since its introduction.
He declined to confirm the exact value of the tax breaks he had received under the scheme, but insisted it was less than the €5m speculated in some quarters.
Mr Quinn, a former chairman of the National Gallery, also said he had never discussed the scheme with his brother when it was being formulated.
"When he was Minister for Finance I never had any discussions with him on government business. I was quite scrupulous about that," he told the Irish Independent.
The 'Sunday Independent' Rich List 2011 ranked Mr Quinn as Ireland's 50th wealthiest man, with a fortune of €188m.
Others who have benefited from the tax break include AIB, Bank of Ireland, cigarette firm PJ Carroll & Co and solicitor turned property developer Noel Smyth.
Bank of Ireland donated 27 pieces of art, valued at just over €2m, to the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 2008, shortly before the bank guarantee.