At the bottom of page 9 in today’s Irish Times, in the “In Short” block, there is a brief update on the story around Bertie Ahern’s book and the tax exemption he has claimed on the earnings stemming from its publication.
FORMER TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern has not yet decided if he will avail of tax-free status under the artists’ exemption scheme on earnings from his autobiography, his spokeswoman has indicated.
His decision will be taken at the end of the tax year and will be based on the profits, “if any”, of Bertie Ahern: The Autobiography.
Taking the decision on how much money will or will not be made is bizarre. The issue is not how much tax Ahern would save personally, but that he is attempting to keep the monies from the State at all. It is in no way different if the amounts not entering the exchequer coffers total €1 or €100,000. This attempt to appear to be considering whether he or the State needs the money more – as if it’s right that it is his choice to make – is idiotic.
The very fact he claims he is mulling it over is a kick in the teeth to other taxpayers. Whether he makes a profit or loss on the book is beside the point. It’s an issue of right or wrong; does Mr Ahern believe he should claim the tax exemption or does he not? The amounts involved are wholly irrelevant.
Update: Ken Foxe of The Sunday Tribune writes about the same subject, in a wider context, on his blog.