Check out how the government spends your taxes

Posted December 6th, 2013

To access your Tax Transparency Calculator, click here.

In advance of the 2014 Budget announcement from the government, I have launched a ‘Tax Transparency Calculator.’

This is about showing people how their taxes are spent by the government each year, in simple euros and cents. You can enter basic details as to salary, marital status, number of children etc, and the calculator will calculate your annual tax payments and then break this down indicatively according to what government departments spend.

For example, you can see how many euros of your taxes are spent on things like primary education, roads, the Gardai, paying off interest on the national debt – even the cost to you personally of the Oireachtas.

With the significant correction to the national finances – and particularly as we move towards balanced budgets – it is important to inform people in as much detail as possible, but also in an understandable way, of the difficult spending choices facing the government and the country.

Once we have a calculator for income taxes, the next logical move would be to provide something similar for VAT payments, excise, local property taxes and business rates.

Other organisations like publicpolicy.ie have produced something similar, but what makes this different is that it has two components, one that calculates the taxes that you pay, and the second component which then breaks this down in euros and cents. But, having the Department provide such a tool could make it far more detailed but would also lend greater credibility and authority to the figures provided. And that’s what I’m asking for in conjunction with Budget 2014.

This is something I proposed last November with the Tax Transparency Bill 2012, which received all party support at second stage to move to committee stage. This hasn’t happened yet, but in fact the Minister doesn’t need to wait for approval of all of the elements of that Bill. The Minister can proceed immediately with publishing a Tax Transparency calculator on the Department’s website. It’s not complicated and all of the information is already there – this is just about packaging it in a way that is easy to access.

President Obama already provides a similar calculator on the WhiteHouse website and the UK is moving to introduce something similar next year. By publishing a Tax Transparency calculator on my own website I hope to show to the government how easy it would be for the Department to do something similar.

The Tax Transparency Calculator can be found here.

To watch my second stage speech as well as a video of the debate last November, including the response from Minister Noonan, click here.

For the details of the Bill and memorandum, click here

The breakdown of figures produced by the calculator is an approximation and has been calculated based on figures (gross voted) provided by the Department of Finance, in conjunction with information contained on the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s website http://per.gov.ie/databank.