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Pensioners pay price for failings

The revelation that up to 115,000 pensioners will have to pay tax on second pensions demonstrates yet again the dysfunctional nature of some elements of how the country is run. While it is only right and proper that taxation is paid on all income, the fact that it took until now for two arms of government, the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social Protection, to share information on which pensioners receiving occupational pensions were also being paid the state contributory pension, is hard to believe.

Now it is old-age pensioners who will end paying the price for the inability of two government departments to get their computers to communicate with one another.

As we report today, 115,000 pensioners hadn't been paying enough tax on their occupational pension schemes. The discrepancy only came to light when the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social Protection recently began to share information for the first time.

In some cases pensioner couples could find themselves paying as much as €8,800 more in tax every year. This could have devastating consequences for some of them. This makes it vital that the Revenue Commissioners handle this matter sympathetically and sensitively.

By all means ensure that the State collects the taxes which it is due but also bear in mind that, if the two departments involved had been doing their job properly, this situation would never have arisen in the first instance.