Dáil Éireann - Volume 537 - 31 May, 2001
Written Answers. - Tax Allowances.
Mr. N. Ahern Mr. N. Ahern
84. Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for Finance if he will clarify the situation and report progress on the claim for married persons tax allowance for cohabiting couples; the findings of the task force set up to examine this matter; if he will introduce some scheme to give such couples full tax credit even if by allowing them the benefits the year after they registered themselves as a co-habiting couple; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16484/01]
Mr. McCreevy Mr. McCreevy
Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy): The issue of the tax treatment of cohabiting couples was discussed most recently in the report of the working group examining the treatment of married, cohabiting and one-parent families under the tax and social welfare codes. The group, which was established by the Minister for Social Welfare in May 1997, reported in August 1999 – the report is available from the Government Publications Sales Office. The group was sympathetic, in principle, to changes in the tax legislation to address the issues raised relating to cohabiting couples and reported that the options that it set out should be considered further in the context of budget 2000.
Since the report was published, I initiated in budget 2000 the process to reform the standard rate income tax band. When the process is complete the position of all couples will be the same with respect to the standard rate tax band.
The position of married couples in relation to income tax is accorded recognition through the married person's tax credit and the home carer's tax credit. I have no plans to change the arrangements in that regard. The working group acknowledged that a key issue in relation to the tax treatment of cohabiting couples is whether tax law  should proceed ahead of changes in the general law on the matter. For that reason, and while I am cognisant of the issues faced by cohabiting couples, I have no plans to extend the married person's tax credit to such couples at the present time.
Dáil Éireann 537 Written Answers. Tax Allowances.