Rich political list: how the full calculations on a politician’s worth were compiled

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PENSIONS

We used the pension benefit accrual system, obtained from the Oireachtas office, to determine how much each TD is entitled to in their annuity-type pensions – as well as for lump sums, which are based on years of service.

There are a lot of quirks in this area because the laws have changed many times.

We did some calculations using the retirement age based on the current rules – although some may retire earlier if they were DT before the rule changes coming in 2004.

The quotes are based on a valuation of pensions in the here and now using “net present values”.

We then used an industry standard pension rating engine to derive annuity rates from age 69 and over and up to age 63. For TDs aged 63 or over, a life annuity quote was used. Below this age, we used an assumed annuity rate of 3.3 pc.

The calculation did not include inflation protection and a 50pc spousal pension, so our values ​​will be less than the type of pension a TD or Senator qualifies for.

We cannot model certain things such as the ability for Senators to “buy” TD years, but we have allowed ministerial pensions that are not paid by the Oireachtas.

Lump sums were calculated as due in the future and then discounted in today’s currency (present values). Severance pay has been added to today’s values.

For younger TDs, we have not calculated the full termination value, but only the main lump sum thereof, which is currently € 16,699.

We did not take into account current salaries, allowances, other pensions, committee benefits or expenses for which there are a host of rules and benefits “only for politicians”.

It should be noted that politicians pay a contribution of 6pc of salary to their pensions. They also pay the pension deduction, which is 10% of the salary above € 28,750 and below € 60,000, and 10.5% above.

A TD receiving the € 100,190 standard (before expenses or allowances) will pay € 7,344 per year in pension contributions and € 6,011 on his income.

Some with long service also pay pensions but do not accumulate additional benefits for doing so because the pensions reach a maximum of 20 years of service.

GOODS

We have reviewed the declarations made in the Register of Members’ Interests. This does not include family homes, which can be a huge store of wealth, so we have included them where we can.

It also does not include homes that TDs can currently occupy for work or vacation homes. So if a TD owns a second home in Dublin that they use while attending the Dáil, they are not required to list that property.

Some list such properties, but we have found many examples where they are not listed and a TD may have multiple properties not declared due to how they interpret “rules”.

For details, we looked to guides like Nealon’s; we also searched the land register and the property registration authority. After that, we searched every county across the country to compare politicians’ names to folio numbers, and then searched the land register map.

Sometimes this was followed by a Google Maps search and Street Views to make sure we had the best possible understanding of the property.

Then a benchmarking was used. The comparisons were made from live sales on websites such as Daft.ie or MyHome.ie, or, where possible, we checked the house price register. When this was not possible, we used the valuation investment method.

For land values, we used the weighted averages of Farmers diary publication of land prices. This means that we potentially underestimate good land and overestimate lesser land, but it gives a fair and consistent approach.

The only exception is when the land was on the edge of towns or was part of a local plan, in which case it would be given an enhancement for pure agricultural use but still well below that for speculative development land.

ACTIONS

The valuation of listed shares assumes a minimum value of € 13,000 as this is the threshold above which a declaration must be made in accordance with the guidelines.

Either way, we went with caution, and when we couldn’t determine a valuation, we returned a number of zero. If a politician mentioned that something was worth a certain amount on their declaration form, we opted for that amount.

COMMERCIAL VALUE

The companies were valued by taking the net assets by report to the company registrar.

The value of equity, or net assets, would be divided by the participation. If a company was worth € 100,000 and the politician owned 50% of the shares, we would value it at € 50,000. Some politicians use unlimited corporations and these corporations don’t have to file accounts (this will change in 2022). In these cases, we took the last known public figure available.

Directorships and shares of private companies were queried using Vision-Net.ie, a popular business search tool.

In some cases, we have estimated the value of a business based on our analysis of publicly available data.


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