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Ministers' €3,500 laundry tax break

WASHING their dirty linen is not something politicians like to do in public, but Ministers have turned laundry into a tax break.

Ministers who need to wash their smalls and sundry items have awarded themselves a tax write-off of €3,500 a year.

Taxpayers are picking up the cleaning tab for Cabinet members who use hotels or guesthouses as a second home while they are working in Dublin.

The Ministers are allowed to claim laundry expenses on top of the cost of their room despite the fact that Leinster House has its own laundry service costing just €13 a time.

Their "dirty" little secret has been outed by Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty who questioned Finance Minister Michael Noonan about the practice.

Mr Doherty roundly condemned the allowance at a time when families are facing a crippling Budget where €3.6bn has to be clawed back.

Latest figures from the Department of Finance show that 14 ministers claimed the allowances in 2009 at a cost to the state of €74,996.

"This is an incredible situation," said Mr Doherty. "At a time when those same ministers are deciding on savage cuts they are getting tax write-offs for their laundry.

"And €3,500 is not an insignificant sum."

Mr Noonan explains that ministers, unlike TDs, are not entitled to overnight allowances.