Finance Bill 2018: Report Stage

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 8, between lines 10 and 11, to insert the following:

“(3) Within 6 months of the passing of this act, the Minister shall produce a report on the benefit of abolishing the Universal Social Charge on all income below €90,000 and replacing it with 4 new income tax bands for income earned between, €100,000 and €140,000, €140,000 and €180,000, €180,000 and €250,000 and over €250,000.”.

Since the great tax marches of the early 1980s, the question of tax justice has been a burning issue for working people in this country. Indeed, one cannot really understand the enormous movement around water charges, property tax and bin taxes without understanding the burning sense of grievance that working people feel over the historically unjust character of the tax system. It is not that workers are unreasonable. They have been out on the streets on these issues again and again since before the Minister's time in politics or mine. Taken in the round, workers justifiably feel that the tax system is unfair and disproportionately punishes them while letting the wealthy and large corporations off the hook of making a tax contribution to fund our services and society.

In that regard, the universal social charge was a bitter pill to swallow, as were the property tax, water charges and so on. Since it was Revenue that took the USC and, subsequently, property tax, there was not much that workers could do, but they expressed their fury on the issue of water charges. One should be in no doubt that the anger expressed on water was also an anger at the property tax, USC and many indirect and hidden taxes and charges that working people have to put up with.

It is in that context that this amendment attempts to redress the balance in the tax injustice that pervades the Irish tax system. Our amendment proposes to get rid of USC for everyone earning less than €90,000, a commitment that this Government made, and to pay for it by making some of the wealthiest in society pay their fair share. There is something of a false debate about whether the Government should be promising tax cuts as against spending on public services. I do not accept that as the correct parameter for the debate. There can be tax justice for workers and more money for public services if the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share. This is one of a suite of amendments that we have proposed to move in that direction. I do not expect that the Minister will accept them, but they must nonetheless be aired.

The specific proposal in this amendment is that USC for those earning less than €90,000 should be abolished and replaced with four additional bands of taxation on those earning in excess of €100,000 so that people earning between €100,000 and €140,000 pay 50% tax on that portion of income, people earning between €140,000 and €180,000 pay 55%, people earning between €180,000 and €250,000 pay 60%, and people earning more than €250,000 pay 65%. According to the Minister's response to my parliamentary question, this would raise €2.1 billion. That is a lot of money, and we could use it to give tax relief to workers at the lower end without undermining the famous tax base.

This is about shifting the tax balance from those who have been hard hit, the very people the Taoiseach was talking about at the weekend. Let us take some pressure off them and pay for it by making those who are not paying their fair share do so. It is a small cohort of people. According to the CSO, the wealthiest 10% in society get 40% of the income. I always laugh when I hear the Minister or the Taoiseach saying that the wealthiest 10% pay 40% of the taxes. Of course they do. It is because they have 40% of the income. Proportionately, though, and when all of the indirect taxes, USC and so on are taken into account, are they paying the same amount of their income as people at the bottom? They are not. That was confirmed by the Comptroller and Auditor General when he pointed out that an incredible 90 of the richest individuals in this country, high net worth individuals who have well in excess of €50 million each, are paying less tax than the average worker and are managing to do so on the basis of loopholes and tax reliefs of which they can avail.

This brings me to my final point. It is a bit rich that, at the same time as the Taoiseach talked at the weekend about giving relief to working people in terms of tax, we discovered that Revenue was making a grab for the tiny bit of tax relief that some of the lowest paid and most precariously employed workers in this country enjoyed.

We are talking here about €85 million in reliefs claimed by shop assistants, freelance actors whose working lives are totally precarious, freelance journalists and so on. A further grab may be made for allowances claimed by construction workers, bar staff and others who receive relief of a few hundred euro. At the same time, the Comptroller and Auditor General has identified an incredible €213 billion worth of reliefs and allowances that are benefiting big corporations and the very wealthy. We must address these double standards. The amendment would make an attempt to move in that direction.

Any debate we have in this House on the income tax system must be placed in the context of the challenges the country faces, particularly the deficits evident across a range of public services. As elected representatives, we are all well aware of the deficits. In the health service there are issues with disability services, families waiting for extra home help hours or home care packages and young children waiting for special needs assessments under the Disability Act. We are all well aware of the housing crisis which is multifaceted in nature. Whether we are discussing tax cuts or increases, the debate must take place in that context.

As a country, we have one of the most progressive tax systems in the developed world. In Fianna Fáil we believe the people who have the most should pay the most. We have a tax system which recognises that reality and has been developed over a long period of time. It is fair to say that in the early years of the crisis the introduction of USC in an amalgamation of the old health and income levies represented a significant increase in the burden of taxation on workers and pensioners. That needs to be recognised and is why it is important to reduce, in a gradual and sustainable way, the burden of taxation on the shoulders of workers and many pensioners. However, the notion that one can just increase dramatically the burden of taxation on people above a certain level of income without consequences for everyone else is not one to which I subscribe. In the context of attracting foreign direct investment or encouraging SMEs in Ireland to scale up, there would be consequences if we were to have an income tax environment that was punitive for those earning what would be regarded as high levels of income. There would be consequences for those working in less senior positions too.

The amendment proposed by Deputy Boyd Barrett does not specify rates for the different bands, but the Deputy elaborated on the matter in his contribution. The amendment is not placed within a context which must be the challenges we are facing as a country and the clear deficits across a range of public services. We believe there is a need to gradually reduce the burden of income tax, but in so doing we must respect and maintain the progressive nature of the tax system such that those who earn the most pay the most. That should be the cornerstone within which we frame future changes.

On the amendment but more particularly the budget and the subject of USC, what was missing from the Taoiseach's speech at the weekend and budget 2019 was a reference to the enormous population changes happening in Ireland. The demographic changes taking place here are in sharp contrast to what other European countries are experiencing. While they will provide a great boon for Ireland, it would be very foolish for any party to suggest the enormous increases in the numbers of older people and children will not be costly, particularly in areas such as health and education.

In the context of USC, there is a lot of merit in looking back to what was in place before the charge was introduced. If we are serious about Sláintecare, for example, which has received cross-party support and the development of a national health service in Ireland, we need funding streams. However, we cannot just say, as the motion implies, that a couple earning €100,000 should be taxed at a rate of 50%. That would be way out of line with what ordinary people could bear. In the original paper written by the ESRI USC was described as a universal social contribution. When I was in government, I proposed reducing the USC burden on individuals or couples with an income of less than €70,000. USC, as originally proposed approximately 12 years ago, should be converted into a universal health contribution, with the funds raised to be used for the establishment of Sláintecare. A specific fund for its establishment and some funding earmarked for the HSE over and above that provided by the Minister for Finance every year would allow for planning to meet the growing demands on the health service. When I was in government, medical cards for the under sixes were introduced. As I understand it, the Minister agrees in principle that medical cards should be provided for children under 12 years and then children under 18. We should also bring down the age at which older people are entitled to receive a medical card. In that way, we could provide universal medical care for most of the population. By all means, the Minister should review USC, but at this time, given the demands on the Exchequer on foot of population growth and an ageing population, it must be accepted that the financial position is still quite tight. Rather than abolishing USC, we should earmark the funds generated for spending on health services.

The Taoiseach made a lot of comments at the weekend about the self-employed in the context of payment of income tax. That is fine, but it is important to bear in mind that the Government has not yet implemented the recommendations made in a report on bogus self-employment that I commissioned when I was in office. The report examined the incidence of people who were not declaring themselves to be employed but forced to declare themselves as self-employed. The PAYE tax credit was introduced to provide for an element of fair play for PAYE workers vis-à-vis the self-employed. As the Minister knows, self-employed persons can legally write off against tax expenses incurred in the course of employment but those in the PAYE sector cannot.

In fact, we understand the Minister is about to abolish the origins of the very small allowances for those who work in the retail sector, including shop assistants. They are in place to provide for a small evening of the scales as a consequence of the significant allowances available to the self-employed. This is all about balance and fairness and raising sufficient amounts of money in a fair way from the tax system to allow us, as a country, to do the things we desire. The way the amendment is worded, were the Minister to carry it out, it would certainly be a bonanza for his officials, particularly in the case of somebody like the deputy manager of a retail shop who is earning about €60,000 and whose partner or spouse is perhaps earning about €40,000. The suggestion is their tax liability would be upped to 50%, which is pretty draconian. That may not be the purpose of the amendment, but that is what it is stating.

There would be a significant tax reduction.

That is what the amendment is stating.

As I do not have the amendment in front of me, that is why I clarified it with Deputy Boyd Barrett before I spoke. My understanding is that it would be based on individual income, not household income.

It would not apply if somebody was earning €60,000 and his or her spouse was earning €40,000. Perhaps Deputy Boyd Barrett might clarify the matter. I completely understand the principle behind it, but I do not think it would be the right way to go for a number of reasons. Some 28% are already exempt from USC. We need to continue to take lower paid workers out of the USC net and continue to ensure the wealthiest in society pay it. The Government previously stated it wanted to abolish USC. I am sure at one stage every party represented in this Chamber stated they wanted to abolish it. It needs to be looked at as a tax from which the wealthiest in society cannot whittle away through reliefs or tax credits. It is based on one's income. If one earns more, one will pay more. In that sense, it is potentially progressive or, at least, has the potential to be progressive, given that it cannot be whittled away from through tax credits and reliefs. If those on the lower scales were exempt and the level of USC was marginally increased for the wealthiest in society, in effect, it would be progressive taxation. For that reason, Sinn Féin will be opposing the amendment put forward by Deputy Boyd Barrett.

I will open with a few facts and figures to show the way the tax code is structured and then talk about the effective tax rate citizens on differing levels of income face. I will use the hypothetical example of a married couple on one income with no children, although this point will stand for all citizens in different circumstances.

A married couple with a single income of €20,000 pay tax at an effective rate of 3.4%, including USC. A married couple earning €25,000 pay tax at an effective rate of 6.0%. A married couple earning €175,000 pay tax at an effective rate of 42.3%.

I offer these figures to the House for two reasons, the first of which is to emphasise how progressive the tax code is. Owing to the existence of the universal social charge and the fact that it is paid earlier in one's income and that one pays at a higher rate as one earns more, when combined with the income tax code, we have an exceptionally progressive income tax system overall. Making the point that people on high incomes are in some way not paying their share of income tax, in comparison to those on low incomes, does not take account of those very figures which show that the more income a person earns, the more he or she pays in tax.

The other consequence of this structure is those effective tax rates for people on low levels of income increasingly show the challenge any political party in this House will have in making a change to the tax code for somebody on a low income that will not cost the Exchequer a very large amount. Such a tax change would flow all the way up income levels and deliver a very marginal benefit to somebody on a low income because the effective rate at which he or she pays tax is already at a low level. As I said, a person earning €25,000 pays tax at an effective rate of 6%.

The point I make to Deputy Boyd Barrett is that the figures demonstrate how progressive the tax code is. He made reference to the information on the work of the Revenue Commissioner on the allowance for certain workers. Today the Taoiseach confirmed that this work would be deferred until 1 January 2020. The principle is not changing. The Revenue Commissioners were looking at another way to ensure an expense would be taxed in the right way. That is what the Revenue Commissioners are looking to do. The principle underpinning the tax code is that, if one has an expense, it will be treated in a different way for tax purposes than if one has an income. That principle will not change. Revenue was looking at how this could be administered and, as I reconfirmed, this work will be deferred until early 2020.

The key point I make to Deputy Boyd Barrett about his amendment is that it has been estimated that the removal of the application of USC to all income below €90,000 would cost in the region of €2 billion per year. In fairness to him, the Deputy offers other ways by which that income would be raised through the introduction of four new income tax bands. If we were to look to find all of the lost revenue in taxing incomes below €90,000 in an additional tax yield from incomes above €90,000, it would mean that the new income tax bands would need to be as high as 71.25% to raise all of the revenue that would be lost as a result of the change proposed by the Deputy. A tax rate of that level would have very serious and damaging consequences across the economy. There are many citizens on that high level of income who are important in the operation of hospitals and the running of companies, all of whom either provide really important employment within the country or enable the provision of really specialised public services. Such a tax rate would damage our ability to ensure that work took place here. The Deputy referenced the tax base and acknowledged its importance. The effect of such a change would be that anybody earning up to €1,700 per week would not pay the universal social charge. If one shares my principle that anybody earning above a certain level of income should be making a contribution to the provision of public services on which he or she depends, that is an income level that would be too high.

For those reasons I am not accepting the amendment the Deputy has put forward.

I note with interest what Deputy Burton said about the formation of the universal social charge and its history. Deputy Michael McGrath made the point that it arose from the integration of the old health and income levies, albeit at a far lower level of income. My concern, which I know the Deputy will understand although he will disagree with it, is that if I begin to segment particular forms of tax revenue and say that they have to go into the provision of a particular service, I will be faced with many demands to do so for other services, which in turn would reduce the flexibility needed in respect of the allocation of resources.

We do not have time to go into the issue of allowances in two minutes, but I want to make one point. The Comptroller and Auditor General identified €231 billion in allowances and losses brought forward. The figure is so big it is mind-boggling. The gross trading profits of the corporate sector were €80 billion higher than its taxable income in 2016. That is the scale of these loopholes. As against that figure, the allowances at which the Minister is looking or which Revenue is going to go after, most of which are given to working people who are relatively low-paid and precariously employed, amount to €85 million. Hundreds of thousands of workers get little tiny loopholes in the form of real, justifiable allowances based on the cost of working and the corporations get €231 billion. That is just not fair. It is not even fair to look at the workers' allowances, which they really need. They are a couple of hundred quid. They are contributions towards the cost of getting to work, uniforms, tools, or whatever else it might be while an enormous amount is being written off in terms of taxable income for those at the top. That needs to be looked at.

I am going to keep banging on about it until we force the details of these allowances, reliefs and loopholes into the public view so that they can be scrutinised and so that they have to be justified. Frankly, that has not happened. It is beginning to happen a bit in respect of some of them, but we have a hell of a long way to go. We should not even be looking at low-paid workers. This asks for a report. For the benefit of Deputy Burton, we were talking about individual incomes, not combined incomes. That is the first point.

Second, the examples the Minister gave leave out the middle cohort. Workers on €35,000, €40,000, €45,000, €50,000, €60,000 and so on are paying quite a lot of tax when - and this is the point I made at the very outset - it is added to all the other forms of indirect tax, such as property taxes, bin charges, and water charges. Luckily we have defeated the latter for now. There are many other areas in which people are paying stealth taxes such as the public service obligation levy on utility bills and so on. It all adds up to an additional tax burden on working people that is disproportionate when compared with how these charges impact on people at the top. The Minister's point about people paying taxes at a lower level might be justified if there were not all of these extraneous costs, which are in effect taxes, imposed on people for just about everything they do. That is the point. It is not just me saying that. That is the reason people were out on the streets. It was not because populists stirred them up but because people are furious about this stuff.

I ask the Minister for clarification in respect of the flat-rate expenses system and the changes thereto. He is confirming that what was previously put on the Dáil record about changes coming into effect in January 2019 has now changed and that they will come into effect in January 2020. Will he clarify what will occur in the meantime? Revenue had already decided to withdraw the flat-rate allowance system from a number of categories. Is that withdrawal frozen and held over until January 2020? Has the decision been made in principle to withdraw the flat-rate expense system and to replace it with a system under which people would claim relief for expenses actually incurred? Is it the case that the review will continue or is it the case that the decision has been made to move away from that system to a system under which employees would claim relief for expenses incurred? Are all changes postponed to January 2020? Will the Minister clear that up, please?

During the course of the Committee Stage debate the Minister referred to having a plan to review with the Revenue Commissioners a number of areas which he indicated might yield something like €100 million over five years. It might be useful for the Minister to clarify that. What are the areas that are to be investigated? In the context of budgetary oversight and so on, we are supposed to have information. To be honest and fair, many workers did not know about the potential withdrawal of the baseline expenses to which they are entitled. Given that the allowances are so small, particularly if one takes into account people like shop workers who receive an allowance of €120 a year, their removal would cancel the effect of the budget for those who receive them. It would take any gain they got in the budget away from them. I welcome the postponement to 2020, but the Minister should remember that these were introduced a long time ago, perhaps 50, 60, or 70 years ago. They have been available in respect of a variety of different jobs and professions for a very long time.

The Minister should bear in mind, when talking about rebalancing the tax system, that PAYE workers deserve to be considered in terms of fairness. Much of this Government's message is around people who are self-employed, but it should be borne in mind that self-employed people prepare accounts or have accounts prepared for them. They have significant expenses deductions. The expenditure is in the interests of the business but the deductions are significant. The Minister knows that the bulk, if not all, of the income of everybody sitting in this room is subject to PAYE. It is a pretty flat rate system, which is proper, and which includes relatively few allowances that do not also apply to the self-employed. I am glad the Minister is reconsidering it. It might be appropriate to abandon it.

I will deal with the two points which have been put to me. On the point Deputy Boyd Barrett put to me in respect of the effective tax rates for people on middle incomes, I have those figures. For a person on €35,000, the effective tax rate is 12.4%. For a person on €45,000, it goes up to 16%. They are the effective tax rate figures for people on those levels of income. Of course what is concealed there is that the marginal tax rate can be very high. As people go up a level of income, and particularly as they cross the standard rate cut-off point, they face a very high marginal rate. That is why the Taoiseach indicated that, if we had the opportunity to put a series of further budgets in place, the standard rate cut-off point would move ahead of the average wage in our economy. I am committed to making that happen. That decision makes sense. It will reward work and deal with the difficulty we have in terms of those on middle incomes facing a very high marginal tax rate.

On the question Deputy Michael McGrath put to me, I will reiterate what I said earlier.

Expenses that are wholly, exclusively and necessarily included for the purposes of work will continue to be claimable under the Taxes Consolidation Act. That is not changing. The Revenue Commissioners informed me that the matter will be reviewed next year and that there will not be any change to how they implement this policy until 1 January 2020.

The Minister did not really explain the point that the Comptroller and Auditor General made, which is a serious issue. Somehow, 90 of the richest individuals with extraordinary wealth, €50 million on average, are paying less or about the same tax as the average industrial worker. Something is wrong there. That speaks to another fact which is that, overall, income inequality in Ireland before social transfers is pretty high by international standards. This point has been made by the CSO and others. If there are high levels of income inequality to start with, one ends up with even higher levels of wealth inequality over time. That is very evident with the CSO again confirming that the richest 10% have 54% of the wealth. That is in line with an international pattern where wealth and income are becoming more and more concentrated in the hands of the top earners. Wage share as a share of national income is falling consistently, and Ireland is seeing one of the biggest falls. I am trying to say there is something wrong with that trajectory and that we need radical measures to address it. That means radically shifting the balance of taxation when one is earning over €100,000. It is important to say that for the earnings lower than that, people will benefit from not having to pay USC or property tax and so on. It tries to shift the balance radically so there is a very steep cliff once one goes over the threshold of €100,000.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 2 to 10, inclusive, are related. Amendment No. 4 is consequential to amendment No. 3, and amendment No. 8 is consequential to amendment No. 7. Amendments Nos. 2 to 10, inclusive, may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 11, line 35, after “€50,000,” to insert “or, if the original market value exceeds €50,000, the car was first made available during the period 1 January 2018 and 15 October 2018,”.

As we discussed on Committee Stage, this relates to a very small number of people who may have purchased an electric vehicle in the past year. The case is being made that we have to give consistent signals and not have a tax system that steers people towards a certain action and then changes the ground underneath them. While that applies to a very small number of people in this case, the principle is worth upholding and I have often heard finance officials, when the Minister comes in with tax or other proposals, argue with themselves about the need for the tax system to be consistent and predictable and not to steer people in a certain direction and then change the rules. It was not precise but there were clear statements by the relevant Ministers in advertising and other materials from Government that there was an intention to have a three-year period where there would be an exemption to benefit-in-kind provisions for certain types of electric vehicles.

I think the Minister accepted on Committee Stage that there was an argument and he wanted time to consider it. If I am reading it correctly, I think he has gone a long way to recognising that we want that consistent approach. As I see it, the only difference is that it would be a two-year continued exemption rather than three. I presume the Minister would argue that that gives people time to sell a vehicle. I welcome his acceptance of that point. While it is a very small number, for those people, there is a basic principle that the State should act in a predictable and consistent manner. Given that the Minister's amendments seem to bring us in that direction, I welcome them and, unless I have missed something, that he is willing to make such a provision. It is two years rather than three but I think it is a significant improvement for those individuals.

Like Deputy Ryan, this is an issue I pressed on Committee Stage. I welcome the Minister's amendment. I think it was patently unfair to change the goalposts for those for whom a car had been provided by their company over the course of 2018 up to budget day. That was certainly unfair. I think the Minister has recognised that because various promotional material was produced following the budget last year which made it clear that the benefit-in-kind at 0% would last for at least three years and there was no reference to a cap. I acknowledge the number of people affected is quite modest. The signal it sends is important. If we change the goalposts for incentives that we are introducing to encourage people to move away from fossil fuels, fossil fuel investments, vehicles and so on and then do not see it through, there is an issue of trust that could potentially damage our tax system and the support for people to buy into the changes that we all need to move towards.

I want to raise two issues. This may be the only case in the country but a scenario has been brought to my attention where a company entered into a binding legal contract to purchase a vehicle for an employee in September but the vehicle cannot be provided until January. In the wording of the Minister's amendment, he removes the €50,000 cap where the car was first made available to the employee up to 9 October 2018. That does not deal with the scenario here which may well be the only one or there are very few in the country where a contractual commitment was entered into. I see the Minister of State, Deputy D'Arcy, shaking his head. When other changes have been made to taxation systems, such as stamp duty, the cut-off point has been determined by the entering into of a contractual commitment. That defined the cut-off point, but what the Minister has defined as the cut-off point is the making available of the car to the employee. That is different and I want to raise that issue with the Minister to see if there is any flexibility that might address the situation.

The second point, which is the same as Deputy Ryan's, relates to the timeframe. I assume the Minister's logic is that year one of the three years for people who will not now be subject to the €50,000 cap is 2018, with year two being 2019 and year three being 2020, whereas the benefit-in-kind exemption applies, subject to the cap, for everybody else up to the end of 2021. There is a difference of a year which I assume is because the Minister gave a three-year commitment and is taking 2018 to be year one, which is a case he can argue. The issue of where a contractual commitment was entered into is one I ask him to look at in the interests of fairness. In the case I am aware of, the commitment was made and a legally enforceable contract entered into on the basis of what was pledged and enacted in law last year.

In this year's budget, the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, extended the 0% benefit-in-kind rate for electric vehicles to the end of 2021. Having regard to the value for money and tax equity considerations, the Minister announced a cap of €50,000 on the original market value of the vehicle that can be fully relieved from benefit-in-kind. It was noted that this cap received full support on Committee Stage but that Deputies Ryan and McGrath want it to be disapplied for employees or directors who had electric vehicles made available to them between budget 2018 and budget 2019 on the basis that such persons had reasonable expectations that a cap would not be applied. In recognition of the points made by Deputies Ryan and McGrath, I am tabling my own amendment to section 9. The effect of this amendment is that the cap will not be applied for the tax years 2019 and 2020 to employees or directors in possession of electric vehicles that were first made available to them between 10 October 2017 and 9 October 2018.

On 1 January 2021, the €50,000 cap will apply to all electric vehicles regardless of when they were first made available.

Deputy McGrath remarked on the consideration of an individual. It might only be one individual or it might be more.

I do not believe we will accept anything further than what we have amended the Bill with on Report Stage.

I welcome the Minister's flexibility and thank him for it.

It is not for a constituent, in case the Minister of State thinks it is. I look at all the issues brought to my attention with an open mind and with fairness as the guiding principle. The wording used by the Minister covers where the car was first made available to the employee up to 9 October 2018, and in that circumstance the Department is not applying the €50,000 cap. In the case I am aware of the company had made a binding commitment. It had entered into a contract with the employee and with the supplier of the vehicle prior to 9 October 2018. The wording of the amendment does not accommodate that situation. I do not know whether there is any flexibility or willingness to look at such a case. Will the Minister of State consider bringing forward a change in the Seanad?

We have come a long way to try to accommodate the feeling of individuals from Committee Stage. I simply do not see it. It is unfortunate that sometimes on some occasions individuals get caught, but I do not see the flexibility at this stage within what we have presented.

Another issue will flow from it. Potentially the question is whether it is one, five or 50 and I simply do not know how many people will be able to present and say they had a verbal contract with the supplier for 1 January. We have come as far as we can and I do not consider that it will go any further.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 11, line 36, to delete “and” and substitute the following:

“(v) notwithstanding subparagraph (ii), where—

(I) a car made available to an employee during the period 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2020 is an electric vehicle,

(II) the original market value of the car exceeds €50,000, and

(III) the car was first made available to the employee during the period 10 October 2017 to 9 October 2018,

no amount shall be treated as emoluments of the employment, and”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 11, line 37, to delete “(v) where a car” and substitute “(vi) where a car”.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 not moved.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 12, line 15, to delete “and” and substitute the following:

“(v) notwithstanding subparagraph (ii), where—

(I) a van made available to an employee during the period 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2020 is an electric vehicle,

(II) the original market value of the van exceeds €50,000, and

(III) the van was first made available to the employee during the period 10 October 2017 to 9 October 2018,

no amount shall be treated as emoluments of the employment, and”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 12, line 16, to delete “(v) where a van” and substitute “(vi) where a van”.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 not moved.

Recommittal is necessary in respect of amendment No. 11.

Bill recommitted in respect of amendment No. 11.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 18, between lines 35 and 36, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 825C of Principal Act (special assignee relief programme)

15. Section 825C of the Principal Act is amended—

(a) in subsection (2A)(e), by substituting “within 90 days” for “within 30 days”, and

(b) in subsection (2B)(b)(i), by substituting for “but in respect of the tax years 2012, 2013 and 2014 where this amount exceeds €500,000, “A” shall be €500,000, and” the following:

“but—

(A) in respect of the tax years 2012, 2013 and 2014 where this amount exceeds €500,000, ‘A’ shall be €500,000,

(B) in respect of the tax years 2019 and 2020, in the case of a relevant employee who first arrives in the State on or after 1 January 2019 for the purposes set out in subsection (2A)(b), where this amount exceeds €1,000,000, ‘A’ shall be €1,000,000, and

(C) in respect of the tax year 2020, in the case of a relevant employee who first arrives in the State on or before 31 December 2018 for the purposes set out in subsection (2A)(b), where this amount exceeds €1,000,000, ‘A’ shall be €1,000,000,

and”.”.

The special assignee relief programme, SARP, was introduced in budget 2012. It aims to reduce the cost to employers of assigning skilled individuals in their companies from abroad to take up positions in their Irish based operations. The relief is time limited on the basis that it is expected that assignees will transfer skills to Irish-based employees over the course of the five-year period and thus support the establishment of long-term high-quality employment.

Ireland's enterprise policy is based on export-led growth underpinned by innovation, talent and technologies to deliver long-term sustainable economic growth. Foreign direct investment has been and continues to be an integral part of Ireland's economic development. The existence of an incentive like SARP is an acknowledgement that we are competing on a global basis for highly skilled and mobile executives. The competition for this talent is intense, especially for the types of skills required to facilitate the development and expansion of business in Ireland.

Specialist assignee tax relief schemes are in operation in many of the jurisdictions that we compete with for foreign direct investment. These kinds of incentives can be a persuasive factor. In tandem with our corporation tax rate, SARP is intended to help us to compete for foreign direct investment. Under the relief, a proportion of earnings from SARP employment is disregarded for income tax purposes. The proportion is 30% of income above €75,000. USC continues to be payable as is PRSI depending on the individual circumstances.

Employer returns to Revenue indicate that in 2016 a total of 1,084 non-assignee jobs were supported as a result of SARP. The figure is greatly increased from the early years of the incentive. In 2012, for example, only six non-assignee jobs were supported by SARP. Available evidence suggests that the programme is achieving its goals.

A review and public consultation on the incentive in 2014 raised concerns. Accordingly, several changes were made to SARP in budget 2015, including the removal of a cap of €500,000 in eligible income from SARP beneficiaries in the hope of increasing uptake and encouraging the growth of higher quality foreign direct investment. In the years subsequent to the review Revenue analysis has shown that the incentive has greatly increased in popularity, with 793 individuals availing of the scheme in 2016 and employers reporting job creation and retention directly as a result of the scheme. However, as Deputies will note from the recently published Revenue report on SARP, the cost of the scheme stood at €18.1 million in 2016. This is an increase from €9.5 million in the previous years. The report indicates some of this increase can be attributable to a small number of individuals claiming SARP in respect of particularly high incomes of over €1 million. There were 18 such individuals in 2016. The report found that the number of participants earning an annual income in excess of €675,000 increased by 340% in the period from 2014 to 2016. Moreover, although the number of beneficiaries in 2016 earning annual incomes of €1 million or more was relatively modest, the percentage increase has been in the order of 800%. It has gone up eightfold, from two in 2014 to 18 in 2016. It should be remembered that the average salary under SARP when the incentive was introduced in 2012 was a little under €150,000. This amount has increased to approximately €250,000 and almost half of the individuals in SARP are in receipt of salaries between €75,000 and €150,000. The increase in cost for this reason was not anticipated when the cap was removed and I have decided that the amount of relief being claimed at high incomes raises equity issues. I believe I must address these issues without delay.

I propose to reimpose a cap of €1 million in eligible earnings for new entrants. Based on the 2016 figures this would affect fewer than 2.5% of recipients. The changes will apply from 1 January 2019 for new entrants and from 1 January 2020 for existing recipients.

Reimposing the cap in this manner will ensure that the scheme is not open to over-exploitation while leaving those with incomes under €1 million - still an exceptionally high income - unaffected. This scheme is due for full review during the course of 2019. The review will afford us an opportunity to look at all elements of the scheme. Given that I intend to commission this report in advance of the Finance Bill 2019, I do not propose to accept the amendment tabled by Deputy Pearse Doherty.

A number of stakeholders made the case that the current 30 day application reporting period is too restrictive given the delays faced in obtaining a personal public service number, PPSN, and other pressures faced by individuals in relocating to Ireland. Given that I am making a Report Stage amendment to the incentive and the fact that this is primarily an administrative matter, I propose to make a further technical amendment which will see the reporting timeframe extended from 30 to 90 days for initial reporting by the employer to Revenue after the arrival of the employee in the State.

I omitted to say that amendments Nos. 11 and 12 are related and may be discussed together.

We will withdraw amendment No. 12 in light of the fact that the Minister has committed to commissioning a full report before the next budget. On amendment No. 11, the Minister said that he could not have foreseen the inequity in this when the cap was first lifted. I have to say that he was warned at the time. Deputy Pearse Doherty highlighted this in his speech on the Finance Bill 2015 when the cap was removed and the programme extended. He said that the costs would eventually spiral out of control, and that is on the record. This is certainly a step in the right direction. We are quick enough to criticise the Minister, but we will support his amendment on this matter.

Some of the numbers put on the record by the Minister concerning the growth in the scheme are quite extraordinary. I have consistently made the point, on behalf of my party, that the kernel of the issue is whether there is a demonstrable link to employment creation and retention. It is only in that circumstance that such a scheme can be justified to the hundreds of thousands of workers who pay comparatively high rates of tax. In considering the impact of the changes made in 2015, it is clear that the cost more or less doubled in the first year, from €9.5 million in 2015 to €18.1 million in 2016.

Tables one and two in annex three, provided by Revenue, help to illustrate my point about a demonstrable link between employment creation and retention and this scheme. Table one shows the increase in the number of employees as reported by employers as a result of SARP. It shows an increase of 477 in 2016. The number of employees retained as a result of SARP, as reported by employers, was 607 that year. A total of 1,100 employees were either recruited or retained specifically because of SARP, according to the employers. I presume this will be captured by the review, but to what extent are those figures probed and to what extent can we show that there is a clear link between what is a really lucrative tax break for those who are benefiting on the one hand and employment creation and retention in our country on the other, which we all support?

Looking at the spread of employees across salary bands for employers who made a SARP return, while the table does not explicitly tell us the salaries of those who benefited from SARP, it is clear that in 2016 four employees across different companies on whose behalf employers made a SARP return were earning between €3 million and €10 million, and 14 employees earned between €1 million and €3 million. Those people were employees of companies which made a SARP return, but the table does not tell us if they were the employees who benefited from SARP. The Minister has confirmed on the record that 18 employees earning in excess of €1 million benefited from SARP in 2016, and the total number benefiting was close to 800. The average salary for that cohort was €250,000.

It is fair to say that this scheme has grown beyond what was imagined when it was introduced. The only circumstance in which this can be justified is one in which the Minister can say in this House that he has evidence that jobs have been created and retained in our country across the sectors in which this scheme is popular, including IT, financial services, pharmaceuticals and medical, consumer industrial products and services, and other areas of services. That is what I want to hear. I note that for the existing beneficiaries the Minister is retaining the existing situation until January 2020 and that the reinstatement of the cap will have an effect from January 2019 for new entrants. The Minister might elaborate on the logic and reasoning for that.

I welcome the announcement of a study on this issue because we need to see the figures. I am concerned that, while we are competing for businesses and trying to persuade them to relocate to Dublin in the context of financial services moving from London as a result of Brexit, we are in fact driving up some of the super-salaries available in the financial services sector in a way that is neither appropriate nor required. That does not mean that people transferring from banking feel they should be paid €10 million or €11 million a year. Those figures are not unusual in the City of London, but I do not know whether we require those kinds of salaries here. We need to see more detail about this. The Minister has commissioned a study on raising the cap on bankers' salaries. I do not understand the argument that bankers should earn so much more than they already do. Perhaps the Minister is changing the thresholds for the scheme for new entrants as a direct result of Brexit, but I have doubts as to whether it is a wise approach.

This scheme is effectively for the benefit of accounting service companies and legal companies so that they can sell themselves to HR recruiters. There is a lot of money in it for those companies in terms of services, particularly the bigger accounting firms and some of the bigger legal firms. As we all know, those companies have a history of being highly adept at creating tax break structures in Ireland that, over time, become incredibly expensive. The structures are rarely reviewed and there is often very little knowledge of what the schemes generate until years later. I welcome the review, but I hope that we will see fairly detailed, decent and serious terms of reference in it and that there will be some genuine oversight of the review, allowing us to consider the pros and cons.

I question the wisdom of how some of these structures work. I also wonder how much is paid in recruitment service fees to people making these arrangements or involved in them. In effect, what is the real return? There may be another way of approaching it. We all want to see more jobs, but from what we know about the relief, these are likely to be mostly in the International Financial Services Centre, IFSC, and other parts of Dublin. We would all agree that what we need is more jobs outside Dublin and in rural Ireland. Any relief of this type is extremely difficult, but if the Minister has some examples of significant numbers of jobs being generated in less well-off areas of our towns and cities or rural areas, I would be delighted to see the detail. However, I do not believe there are many such jobs because the bulk of them are beside the River Liffey.

I thank all of the Deputies for the points they made. I am mindful of Deputy O'Brien's point about the degree to which the cost of this scheme has increased. That is one of the reasons we will have a review of the operation of the scheme next year. When I was presented with the figures on the operation of the scheme for the most recent year I decided on the grounds of tax equity that it had to change. Bringing in the cap at what is still a high level of income strikes the right balance between attracting and retaining jobs here in Ireland and addressing the fact that the level of relief available to somebody on an income above €1 million was too high. That should change.

I will cite some figures as an example. Someone with an income of €6 million who availed of the scheme would not have to pay a further €700,000 in income tax. Moreover, the relief available to somebody on an income of €9 million would be in excess of €1 million. That is not appropriate and for this reason, we are introducing a cap. It is important to take on board Deputy McGrath's point that if we are to stand over this scheme, we must be able to demonstrate its effect on the creation of jobs. However, we also have to address equity issues for other citizens who are on a high income but are not participating in this scheme and, just as important, for all the low and middle-income workers who are indirectly contributing to the cost of the scheme by forfeiting income tax from very high-income participants. It is for all these reasons that I am making this change.

To answer Deputy McGrath's questions, he is correct on the issue of timing. Participants with an income in excess of €1 million who are already on the scheme will have the opportunity to continue to benefit from this scheme for a further year up to January 2020. However, the scheme will change for any new participants from 1 January 2019. In answer to the question about the effect of this programme in creating and retaining jobs, my Department's report will look at this issue, which will be among its terms of reference. The review will examine the performance of the programme in meeting its objectives, including in attracting skilled individuals and key decision-makers to Irish-based operations.

In regard to the issues that Deputy Burton raised, I believe there is a role for a programme such as this. We have consulted the State agencies that are involved in this work on our behalf. In certain sectors of the economy, certain individuals are highly mobile and if they are located here, they can play a role in the creation of additional jobs. There is a role for a scheme like this, but in the absence of a cap, the scheme created issues of tax equity that needed to be addressed.

Deputy Burton highlighted the financial services sector. To provide some context, not all financial services jobs are on the riverside and in the docklands. About one third of all jobs in the sector are in companies outside County Dublin, including some large employers. For example, Northern Trust in Limerick employs 1,400 staff, Pramerica in Letterkenny has more than 1,000 staff, State Street employs more than 500 staff and BNY Mellon, which has a large number of staff in Dublin, also has offices in Wexford and Cork where it employs hundreds of people. About one third of the 43,000 staff who are employed in international financial services are outside County Dublin. Significant energy has been going into efforts to attract these jobs to the regions.

Those jobs are not new careers. They have been there for years.

When senior executives are attracted here, others in less senior positions follow. Once this occurs, jobs follow and the special assignee relief programme, SARP, is playing an important role in that regard. The scheme will be analysed in 2019.

The Minister used numbers which were intended to be illustrative of the salaries people might earn and the benefit they would get. He said that somebody earning €9 million would benefit to the tune of €1 million per annum as a result of SARP. To the best of my knowledge, the salaries of those benefitting from SARP at the higher end have not been provided. Are individuals who are earning more than €5 million a year currently benefitting from SARP? The sums of money are extraordinary if that is the case. The Minister needs to put that information on record because the House deserves it. I certainly do not have it.

Why is the Minister not reinstating the €500,000 cap? He is bringing in a cap of €1 million, which is double the original cap. He has confirmed that those who are currently earning more than €1 million will continue to benefit from the existing arrangements up to January 2020 but has not given a reason for this. Is it that he believes he needs to give due notice of such change to employers, individuals and so on? The Minister needs to explain this decision. Will he indicate what will be the nature of this review? Who will carry it out? Will it be led by the Department of Finance, the Revenue Commissioners or an external body? What exactly will they be asked to review?

I am concerned that this measure has the potential to create a perverse incentive. It would obviously be possible for somebody earning €500,000 to leave for a period before returning and qualifying for the programme This scheme is not clear. It is heavily marketed internationally by many big accounting firms. We are asking the Minister to provide some evidence. The Minister of State basically implied that if the scheme was not in place, companies such as State Street, which has been here for a very long time, could up sticks and leave the country.

I did not say that.

Please allow the Deputy to conclude.

We are all aware of significant numbers of financial services jobs being located in towns and cities around the country. I made a different point. I asked about areas which were less well-off and rural areas.

We have not heard, in relation to this Bill, details of lobbying by financial service providers. I do not know what the fees are on the allocation of these particular jobs. The Minister may not know but if he is having a study conducted, in all fairness, we should be told about it in order that we can make an objective decision. In the context of Brexit, there are some people we do not particularly want in Ireland. We want quality companies with quality jobs. We do not want to end up paying significant tax bonuses willy-nilly to persons because leading executives earning large amounts of money come here.

To reassure the Minister of State, Deputy D'Arcy, I lobbied very successfully for jobs to go to Wexford at a time when there was little investment coming here.

There is 15% unemployment in Wexford.

We need to look realistically at this scheme to determine whether we are getting value for money for the tax foregone.

The Minister did not answer my question about Brexit. Is this being done to add an extra gloss to our effort in the context of Brexit? If so, are we clear what kinds of companies we are trying to attract? We may want some operators and not others. I am asking the Minister to ensure there is discrimination in terms of the quality of people and companies we are trying to attract to Ireland. We want sustainable, decent and well-paid jobs. We also want executives to be well paid but we do not want them to be paid ridiculous sums that result in inequality becoming much sharper.

Will the Minister answer my question on avoidance? Can a person leave the country and become non-resident for a year or two, before returning and claiming the higher relief? I understand that is possible.

The Minister will be aware of my long-time opposition to this scheme. When it was first introduced Deputy Joan Burton, who was a Minister at the time, insisted that it was linked to jobs when it was not so linked. It became evident that it was a way of introducing a lucrative tax reduction for high-income earners who were not already in the State. We should bear in mind that the scheme provides for an exemption from tax of 30% of a person's earnings above €75,000.

To add insult to injury, the Government was led by the nose by accountants. This scheme did not come from the former Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, or the Department. It came, as we were hearing at the time, from accountants who suggested increasing the threshold and expanding this scheme on the basis that it would result in a significant number of new jobs. The Government threw caution to the wind and refused to apply a cap. We welcome that the Minister is at least recognising the folly of the Government's mistake and reverting to the position of having a cap in the legislation. However, as my colleague pointed out, the scheme should be abolished.

There is an onus on the Minister to explain how the cap of €1 million was arrived at. Where is the evidence to suggest that €1 million is the appropriate amount? Will the Minister state, in black and white, the amount of income that can be disregarded for tax purposes? Will he also tell the House what has been the benefit of this scheme? What real analysis has been done of the scheme? I have looked at the forms that companies must fill out to enable their employees to avail of this relief and there is no doubt that gaming of the system could be taking place. This is a lucrative tax relief for high income earners.

While I welcome the decision to defer the flat-rate expenses, it is only a deferral because, as he indicated in reply to a parliamentary question, the Minister wants this to take effect with the abolition or restructuring of other flat-rate expenses. Workers, whether nurses, members of the Defence Forces or teachers, will now look closely at what is in store for them in respect of flat-rate expenses. Compared with the SARP, which allows for a portion of income above €75,000 and up to €1 million to be disregarded, their reliefs fall into the ha'penny place. This speaks to the priorities of this Government.

As I stated, I welcome that the Minister is recognising the folly of the mistake in expanding this scheme and abolishing the cap. Nevertheless, he has not restricted the scope of the scheme. I reiterate that Sinn Féin warned the Government about this. Who seriously listens to the big accountancy firms when there is no evidence to show that they have a case? Who allows a scheme to operate in this unlimited way in the belief that it will not have this kind of impact? The problem is the Government's view that when it comes to high earners and the super wealthy, the Finance Bill will always be available to assist them.

As I stated, while this amendment is an improvement, it still allows for a significant reduction in tax for certain employees who are now in the State and who will take up employment in the next two years. The relief is not available to those who are already here and in employment. The questions I have asked need to be answered. While I welcome the decision to place a restriction on the scheme, it should be abolished in its entirety.

I thank the Deputies for the different points they raised, which I will address in turn. Deputy McGrath asked how many individuals have incomes above a certain level. That information is not available in the report but I will see whether, in the context of this debate, I can get that information for the Deputy. As to why I am changing the scheme for new participants but keeping it in place for one more year, the expectation of some people is that this change should not apply to those who are already benefitting from the scheme. I do not share that view. I am of the view that the growth in the number of participants with salaries of more than €1 million raises questions that need to be addressed now. What I am trying to do is achieve a degree of balance by allowing the scheme to remain in its current form for one more year for those who are already participating in it, after which it will come to an end. I believe that is proportionate.

Deputy McGrath also asked how the report will be done. My approach at this point is that it will be led by my Department in consultation with the Revenue Commissioners. We have not yet decided whether we will have a consultant do some work on the report. We may well use a consultant but the review will be led by my Department, with some input from the Revenue Commissioners.

With regard to Deputy Burton's questions on the need to ensure sustainable employment and that businesses that move into Ireland are sustainable and ones we want to keep here for a longer period, that spirit is much of what has guided the regulatory work the Central Bank has done in terms of looking at the kind of enterprise and economic activity that could be located here when Brexit happens. It wants to ensure, in particular from a financial services point of view, new companies or new parts of companies that locate here are genuinely sustainable, which is what I want to see happen as well.

The Deputy asked what effect Brexit will have on this. From a totally precautionary point of view, in a post-Brexit Ireland or EU, the case could be made for no change to try to maximise the number of individuals with potential jobs who would be resident here in Ireland. I do not believe that is appropriate. We reviewed this scheme versus comparable schemes elsewhere. It is a competitive scheme but I believe issues of equity mean the right thing to do is to bring in the cap at this level.

In regard to the point made by Deputy Pearse Doherty on the number of jobs to which we can relate the current scheme, the Revenue Commissioners have figures in this regard showing that, for 2016, the number of jobs created was 477 and the number of jobs retained was 607. I want to look at this scheme afresh for next year. I am familiar with the world in which such schemes work. This has led me to make this decision in regard to the cap. We will look at the scheme next year with fresh eyes to evaluate whether it is meeting the objectives it was intended to meet.

Deputy Doherty asked what my priorities are. The only priority I have is to ensure we have a tax code that is fair and gives us the opportunity to compete in a very mobile world for certain forms of jobs that I believe it is valuable to have in our country.

The Deputy asked about the levels of relief that will be available to individuals participating in the scheme. To illustrate, for someone on €500,000, the answer is €51,000, and for someone on €3 million, the answer is €351,000. I believe the change I am proposing, as the Deputy has acknowledged, is one that is needed and will allow the scheme to operate in the way it should operate while dealing with an issue that has to be addressed.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill reported with amendment.
Amendment No. 12 not moved.

Amendment No. 13 has been ruled out of order.

Amendment No. 13 not moved.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 80, after line 35, to insert the following:

Report on operation of Employment Incentive and Investment Scheme

25. The Minister shall, within three months of the passing of this Act, prepare and lay before the Oireachtas a report on the operation of the Employment Incentive and Investment Scheme.”.

This amendment relates to the employment incentive and investment, EII, scheme, on which we had some discussion on Committee Stage. The purpose of the amendment is not to get a report but to have an opportunity to discuss this scheme on the floor of the Dáil. As a result of the amendments brought forward on Committee Stage, which were about updating and consolidating the text around the EII scheme, it was incredibly difficult to work our way through it and assess the changes that were being made and whether the issues affecting those applying for the scheme were being addressed or not.

I want to put on record the significant operational issues that arise with the EII scheme. It is an issue I am contacted about quite often in respect of individual claims where there seems to be a significant backlog in the approval process. I hope this is something the Minister can address. As a result of the budgetary announcement and the changes to the Finance Bill, there is a movement to a largely self-certification model, as is the norm for such schemes, and it is hoped that will go a long way towards addressing the issues that arise in the operation of the scheme.

I do not need to tell the Minister the importance of this scheme and the vital funding it provides for early stage business. It is crucial and we need to protect it. We need to make sure it is working and achieving the purpose for which it was established. I know there are issues around the rules, eligibility and so on. What I want the Minister to address, first and foremost, are the operational challenges that certainly arise. We hope this change which is being brought about will address that, but it is an issue that needs to be dealt with. It is consistently raised by representative bodies of businesses and directly with me by investors and companies benefiting from the scheme. There are legitimate issues that need to be addressed.

A very detailed examination of the operation of the EII scheme has just been completed and is available on the Department's website. The findings include the fact there is a continued need for the incentive but that the design of the relief is such as to cause major delays in obtaining approval. On foot of this, a package of priority measures has been brought forward in this Bill to address the shortcomings of the scheme. I intend to have further work carried out before the budget and Finance Bill next year on issues such as the calibration of the amount of tax relief that should be available to investors.

As the Deputy will be aware, section 24 of the Bill changes the operation of the reliefs for investment in corporate trades through the employment investment and incentive scheme and start-up relief for entrepreneurs, SURE, scheme as well as introducing the new start-up capital incentive, SCI, scheme. One of the key drivers in bringing forward this newly designed scheme was the time it was taking for applications to be approved by the Revenue Commissioners. The design of the scheme, as it stands before the Finance Bill 2018 amendments, is insufficient and cumbersome for all involved. In designing the scheme I have brought forward in the Finance Bill, the aim has been to strike a balance between the administrative burden being placed on companies and investors with any potential risk to the Exchequer. I believe the proposed new design does that. The new section will come into operation for shares issued on or after 1 January 2019. Companies that have raised financing to which one of the three reliefs - EII, SURE or SCI – will apply must let Revenue know they have done this within 60 days of the investment qualifying for the relief.

I am advised by Revenue that the majority of share issues occur in the last quarter of the year. Therefore, within three months of the passing of the Act there simply will not be enough data to report on the operation of the newly designed scheme, which would be expected to be in the last quarter of 2019. I assure the Deputy I appreciate how important it is for these three reliefs to be operated as intended. The operation of the new scheme will be monitored to see if there are any issues that need to be addressed in light of the substantial measures brought forward in Finance Bill 2018 to address the concerns. However, given the fact I have just published the detailed Indecon report, which already identifies a range of measures to enhance the operation of the schemes, and the fact the statistical information needed to compile a report in the manner the amendment proposes would not be available in short timeframe proposed, I cannot accept the amendment. I assure Deputy McGrath that I and the officials will monitor closely the effects of the changes to the scheme over the coming year with a view to taking forward further improvements in next year's Finance Bill, if necessary.

To put this into context, it was taking too long - up to three months - for approval to be granted to people applying for the EII scheme in previous years. We are moving from that to a self-certification scheme on the basis that, in the future, there will be audits by Revenue which will be a look-back at applications to see if the scheme is being applied correctly. The audit structure will apply on a selection basis and it is self-certification, which means it will be quicker, and we hope and anticipate it will be done better. As I said, it is also the case that the bulk of these occur in the last quarter of each year, so we will not have the data available within three months of enacting the Bill.

This scheme has been tinkered with in different ways over many years. It is clear that it has not worked in the way it was intended to work. As mentioned, there has been criticism from industry that it was poorly marketed and flawed and that even in its early stage it did not reached the level of uptake achieved by the business expansion scheme, BES, which it replaced. The Minister of State mentioned that self-certification is a leap forward. He also referenced a three-month delay in the processing of applications by Revenue. Will the Minister elaborate on the reason it took three months to process the applications? In reality, this would become an issue if there was evidence to suggest that those who applied for the scheme did not follow through as a result of the delay. Self-certification would be a benefit to companies only if it was shown that those who applied did not follow through as a result of the there being a three-month delay. In other words, the three-month delay was an inconvenience as opposed to a deterrent to invest. Will the Minister of State outline the rationale for moving from Revenue approval to self-certification? What has been the fall-off as a result of what the three-month delay within Revenue in terms of the processing of these applications?

I thank the Minister of State for his reply. Is he confident that the issues that affect the operation of this scheme are being dealt with and that we will see improved efficiency? The feedback I am getting consistently is that the scheme is overly cumbersome, an administrative nightmare and that it is taking too long to get approval, with the overall consequence of it not being an attractive investment proposition. If we want to reduce our reliance on inward investment, foreign direct investment, FDI, and multinationals, we need to help our small indigenous sector to scale up. There are many SMEs that have the potential to reach new levels of scale, and schemes like this are of critical importance to them. For me, this is the key issue. I am aware of the context in terms of the general block exemption regulations from Europe as well.

The Minister of State said that he is open to examining what rule changes may be necessary next year and he mentioned the amount of relief, for example. Leaving aside the Indecon report, what work does he intend to undertake between now and then to guide and inform that review?

The scheme as constructed is deemed to be too complicated in terms of application. Many companies applied. It took three months for their applications to be processed and they were then told that they did not meet the criteria. We are trying to simplify the scheme so that companies can self-certify and get up and running. As mentioned by Deputy McGrath, many people are of the view that we are too dependent on FDI and that this scheme replaced the BES which was easier to access and was of greater benefit than the current one. The Indecon report is critical of the processing system in that, because it is too slow, companies are being left behind. We are providing for self-certification following an audit structure to be put in place. Many of the applications seem to occur in the last quarter of each year. We will not have the information sought by Deputy McGrath until after quarter four, which is when the largest quantity of applications are made, and on that basis I am unable to accept the amendment.

The Minister of State's response does not make sense. The move from approval by Revenue to self-certification will not make a difference. The reason for this move according to the Minister of State is that companies applied, there was a long delay of three months and in the end they did not meet the criteria. Whether a company self-certifies or is approved by Revenue, it will still be in the same position in that there will be a Revenue look-back and, therefore, a clawback at that time unless the criteria is changed. Self-certification as opposed to approval will not make a difference unless the delay resulted in companies falling out during the time it took to process the applications. If, as the Minister of State said, companies applied, there was a lengthy delay and at the end of the process they did not meet the criteria, then the issue is that they were not eligible and, unless the criteria is changed, they will still not be eligible.

Will the Minister of State explain how self-certification without other changes will change the circumstances which he outlined to the House, and will he also outline if he proposes to change the criteria? I understand the purpose of this is to simplify the scheme but the only thing of substance that the Minister of State outlined to the House is a change from Revenue approval to self-certification.

The proposal to introduce self-certification into this procedure is bizarre. The Minister of State is leaving himself open to significant risk in terms of the success or otherwise of it because a lot will depend on the calibre and quality of the applicants. If these are honest applicants who have proposals which may result in much-needed investment, it should be possible to assist them to make valid applications that are likely to be successful. What the Minister of State is saying is that he has an idea of a scheme but he is confused as to whether the people who apply for it deserve to get it. That is no good to a company or a local person in a town like Dundalk where the employment is much needed. The self-certification route is riskier. In moving to it, we risk attracting people who are only in it for the tax break and are not committed to the project. Some level of scrutiny in regard to the project and quality thereof is necessary. There are towns throughout the country that have experience of people who optimistically overpromised and others who set up, took what they could get and then left, leaving the people and the areas high and dry. The Minister of State needs to reconsider this proposal.

In providing for self-certification we are handing the scheme over to accounting and legal firms. Rather than going the self-certification route, the Minister of State ought to be focused on whether this is a valid scheme that is worthy of Government support and will produce employment and investment outcomes for people and areas that badly need those outcomes. How does one allow for self-certification in the case of a person who has no track record? The Minister of State might not be doing people any favours. He might just be providing for a short term boost to the figures and a lot of chaos in regard to the scheme. There is merit in Deputy McGrath's proposal in terms of a study. It could be a relatively small study of anonymised applications over a specific timeframe and a breakdown of the applications that have been successful, and why, and the applications that have not been successful, and why.

This could even be done by the public service, perhaps Revenue in conjunction with the likes of the IDA and Enterprise Ireland. What people want is for schemes such as this to be successful. If they are not successful, they should be changed. I have no idea why the Minister of State has decided to go down this path. I bet some accountant whispered in his ear. They will do the filling out.

I wish to put on the record that the independent finding of the external consultants, Indecon, was that the scheme was too complicated. It is now being simplified so it will be easier for companies to apply for a better scheme. This has been made available online by Revenue. To put into context the complexity of the scheme, companies did not even know whether they were able to apply when they read the rules and regulations. The companies themselves found they had to ask Revenue to tell them whether they could apply for the scheme. The Indecon report is very clear that the scheme is too complicated and that if the company itself does not know that it must make a determination on everything, it needs to be simplified. It is now simplified by the self-certification process in order that the companies themselves can know. There are investor conditions. Investors - not just the company, but also the investors in the company - should have no difficulty determining whether they meet the criteria. There is a difficulty with companies and the investors within the company or the scheme and there is a further complexity in respect of the conditions that comply with the general block exemption. There is scope for genuine uncertainty about these conditions on the part of companies. This is why we have provided that companies can apply to Revenue for confirmation on the issues. The scheme is overly complicated. It is being simplified. We are moving down the self-certification route in order that the scheme sees a better take-up now and in the future.

As I said at the beginning, the reason I tabled the amendment was that it was just not possible on Committee Stage to work one's way through pages and pages of amendments. I know the Minister of State is consolidating the text, but schemes such as this do not always get the scrutiny and attention they deserve. It is a really important scheme. We want to ensure that those benefiting from it are eligible and that the right projects and the economic return are there in supporting companies that need access to this scheme to help them scale up and grow in the way we all want to see. Issues with the operation of the scheme, not just its criteria but its administration, have been raised consistently, and I hope what the Minister of State says will materialise by way of an improved efficiency in the operation of the scheme. We will work with him over the course of the year on any potential further changes. I will withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 92, between lines 9 and 10, to insert the following:

“Report on section 481 Tax Relief

26. Within 6 months of the passing of this act, the Minister shall produce a report on section 481 Tax Relief and the social and economic impact of this expenditure particularly in relation to the provision of quality employment.”.

This amendment relates to the section 481 tax relief, which is designed to encourage and promote the film industry. It amounts to approximately €70 million a year, which is a substantial investment of public money in this industry. As I said to the Minister on Committee Stage, and I will repeat myself because this issue has become very controversial, I am very much in favour not only of maintaining the current level of public investment in film, but of dramatically increasing it. In fact, in our budget submission we proposed an additional €241 million in investment in arts generally, with a substantial amount going to film, although, obviously, to other arts as well. This level of investment would bring us towards the average expenditure in Europe, which we are well below. I stress this because there are some in the film industry who are not happy that I have questioned some of the matters surrounding this relief and some of the issues in the industry. However, I stress to them, and no doubt some of them will be watching this debate, that what I want is to strengthen the industry and to see more investment in it.

There are problems surrounding this relief, however. Indeed, there is a significant dispute raging in the film industry on a number of fronts linked to this relief. I will not go into some of them in great detail except to urge the Minister to take them seriously. A series of articles has been running, particularly in The Sunday Business Post, about fairly serious allegations of abuses of section 481 relief, court cases pertaining to same and very prominent film stars and so on accusing certain producer companies of significantly inflating their claims under section 481. I do not know the truth of these allegations but they indicate that there needs to be serious policing and very definite rules and regulations around these reliefs so they cannot be abused but rather do what they are supposed to do, that is, generate employment in the industry and generate a sustainable film industry. This is very important. As I said to the Minister, and I again stress this to all the people involved in this industry, we have a massive pool of talent in this country. We box way above our weight in literature, the arts and so on and we could do so to a much greater extent in film if there was more investment but also if we redesigned things a little.

The focus of this amendment is the issue of the requirement in section 481 that it provide "quality employment and training opportunities". That is the condition of availing of this tax relief and therefore is a legal requirement. The debate revolves around whether this is the case. To outline to the Minister some of the issues at stake, the number of employees, for example, is important. At the Joint Committee on Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, where this was discussed at the end of January, Screen Producers Ireland and the Irish Film Board said there were 17,000 whole-time equivalent jobs. Recently that figure has come down to about 3,000. That is a big difference, is it not? Let us be honest. The same amount of money is involved but now the number of jobs in the industry has gone from 17,000 to 3,000. When we consider that quite a few of those are in RTÉ, we begin to get a sense of how many are actually working in film.

This is a significant issue and it needs to be looked at. What are we getting back in terms of real jobs in this industry? What kind of jobs are they? Are they quality jobs? Will the Minister in his response to me tell me his definition of a quality job? What is quality employment? What is quality training? Legally, this relief is supposed to be dependent on these questions. To my mind, quality employment, at an absolute minimum, is adherence to employment law and EU directives on employment. For example, if a person has three short-term contracts for the same production company in the space of four years, that person is entitled to a contract of indefinite duration. That is not happening. Even though the same companies are getting the money and employing the same people, these employees are not getting contracts of indefinite duration.

That is the law. It is not up for debate but it is not being applied.

Bogus self-employment is also happening, which the Government has started to act on in other areas. There are objective criteria relating to this. Some people cannot simply be declared to be contractors if the character of their work and the nature of their relationship with the employer, the producer company in this case, is one of employee. Objective criteria need to be examined, which is important from a Revenue point of view. With this amendment, we are asking the Minister to look into these issues. Let us examine how many PAYE employees in the different sectors claim this relief as opposed to contractors and then examine the tax revenue from these two different groups. We will find there is a significant difference. If there is a PAYE employee in the same grade and doing the same job, the State gets back much more.

Workers were telling me that a PAYE worker in certain grades in transport, construction, etc., six-month contract pays €35,000 in tax but if the same person doing the same job is designated a as contractor, he or she pays €3,000 or €4,000 in tax. There are issues in this regard that need to be examined. This needs to be looked into and, critically, the industry forum that was recommended needs to be convened. All stakeholders could discuss what is quality employment and what are the conditions for availing of this tax relief.

Section 481 is a key and central component of the film industry. There is no doubt about the benefits of this tax relief. That is recognised by the vast majority of the industry. It has been beneficial and it should remain in the future. Notwithstanding that, an Oireachtas Joint Committee on Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht all-party report contained 11 key recommendations on reform of the section. It drew particular attention to the precarious position of workers within the industry, which was mentioned earlier. We would not be doing our job if we did not also note some of the reports about the recent film, "The Professor and the Madman". Accusations and allegations were made about that film by Mel Gibson's attorney to others. It is being suggested that this section of our legislation is being abused to inflate costs. Whether the allegations are true will be tested in the courts and we will let them deal with that.

We need to deal with what we have in front of us in the Bill. Whenever that case may be adjudicated, the court may not look at this in the same way we would. We need to make sure that section 481 is robust enough and that we do not have a situation where costs in a certain production, whether that be film or otherwise, are being inflated to swindle the taxpayers paying for this relief. The joint committee also noted that €73 million of the total section 481 tax relief went to the 12 largest production companies. That is an issue I would like examined to ensure this section of our tax code is supportive of a small but expanding industry.

Deputy Boyd Barrett has well ventilated the points on the employment issue. That is why there is a need for a review. Nobody is arguing that we should get rid of section 481. There is, however, a need to make sure that it is robust, that it cannot be abused and that we look at what is happening within the sector. We hear repeatedly of certain companies that crew trainees, for example, in a way to suppress costs. There has been concern, which was raised again in the report, that the structure of the relief was militating against jobs coming to Ireland.

The report called for an international comparative study to be conducted to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the section 481 tax credit. That would be worthy. This amendment should be a catalyst for such a review. I refer specifically to the robustness of it and the allegations that have been made. They are only allegations at the moment but we need to ensure that Revenue and the Department are doing their job to make sure there is no way costs can be inflated to avail of additional tax reliefs above what should be legitimately paid. Most important is the issue of whether quality employment is being provided as a result of this relief.

Nothing in what I am saying should scare the horses. This is the right thing to do and it is timely to do it. A number of comments have been made, a number of articles have been published, there is a court case and our own committee is also asking for work to be done on this. This is the time to have a focused look at this. There may be other areas we may want to review but the robustness of section 481 and the employment conditions of the workforce are two areas that need to be focused in on in a review.

We have heard concerns from employees within the sector. They feel that if they raise concerns they will not be re-employed and they would be blackballed. The joint committee recommended that the Government should seek to make working arrangements in the sector more secure given the level of public funding and tax reliefs that fuel the film industry. We can all agree that there should be zero tolerance for any worker exploitation. It is a live issue and it is coming at us from a number of different angles. A review and a report, which laid bare the facts for all of us to see in the midst of all of the ongoing different commentary, would be welcome and timely.

Section 481 is vital in continuing to have a film industry which can expand, have quality productions and continue to attract national and international talent. It is one of the key sectors of any modern economy. It has been the mechanism by which many different cities and areas around the world have had significant revivals because a vibrant film and television industry has been established. Production and television companies such as Netflix and Amazon invest significant amounts worldwide nowadays.

Ireland, with a proper plan for this area, would be well placed. That is particularly the case with the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. Ireland will have the chance to gain significant investment. To some extent what has happened is that Ireland was a forerunner with section 481. There are now competitive offers from other countries seeking to expand in this area of the entertainment business and all of the employment that goes with it. There is an ongoing need to ensure that if practices develop, which are an abuse of the tax relief, that they should be addressed and eliminated as quickly as possible.

A comparative study should be conducted quickly because I watched some, though not all, of a recent "Prime Time" report on this industry.

Some of the stories were deeply concerning and worrying. Reference has been made to court cases and various conflicts within the industry. This is a key modern industry and if there are issues and problems, there must be a way of hearing the different parties and establishing fair rules to protect good employment and address the rights of employees, including the self-employed.

One issue relating to programmes is that many relate to a particular contracted period. There are significant numbers of film and television production courses in almost all colleges. There is a problem regarding where the graduates can secure good employment. There is immense competition for the employment and experience that is available. These issues can be addressed and the industry should unilaterally adopt standards indicating, for example, that a living wage is the baseline condition of employment or contracting within it. Many people in the industry earn multiples of that - much more than anybody here would ever earn - but, at the same time, there is a significant number of film schools and courses in the State. I am concerned that people graduating from these courses may find it difficult to gain employment here. Many people want to go abroad to gain international experience and that is the nature of the industry. Rather like the financial services industry, this industry is globalised. Nevertheless, Ireland has specific attractions and we have built up expertise in different areas. It is important that the tax relief continues.

This should happen while keeping a keen eye on ensuring first-class productions and output. We have had many examples of that and those who follow film festivals around the world know we have come out with productions that merited awards for individuals involved in the processes, including on the acting and production sides. These people have won many awards and brought much lustre to this country. I am also conscious of the fact that the spin-off from the industry is significant, and it includes "Game of Thrones", "Vikings" and similar productions. It is a significant addition to an area looking to be a visitor destination it has an active and vibrant cultural presence. That includes the film industry.

If the Minister is minded to consider a study, which is a good idea, the focus should be a little broader than just section 481. Educational issues must be examined, particularly as it pertains to third level education. We must consider how programmes in other European Union countries can be linked with schools and courses in this country. We need to consider how we also provide a social and community dividend from the interest that could be generated in areas by film production and a well-known film or series being made in an area.

I thank Deputy Boyd Barrett. I am aware of his long-standing interests in the rights of those working in the film industry and I have taken on board some of the points he made, as I indicated I would on Committee Stage. I offered some views and he made a point on the numbers of people working in the industry. They might have come from me.

I am committed to ensuring the different schemes in place deliver what they should. It is important we take that approach. As the Deputy will be aware, the training issue is intrinsically linked with the film tax credit. Some of the amendments I am introducing to the film tax credit for this year are a first step in addressing some of the matters raised. The splitting of the certification process between the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and the requirement for the production company to apply to the Department before the commencement of the main production, will allow for earlier engagement on the training requirement associated with the credit.

An audiovisual steering group has been established and it now includes officials from my Department, the Revenue Commissioners and other Departments. The effective and sustainable operation of the film tax credit is one of the items on its agenda. It will participate in the newly established screen industry education forum, the first meeting of which was held on 19 November. The aim of this forum is to focus on the skills development challenges and opportunities within the audiovisual sector in Ireland. My officials are participating in this process with a view to ensuring that the State's investment in the sector via the film tax credit delivers an appropriate return in the development of a skilled workforce.

In addition, employees in the film industry are entitled to the same legal protection afforded to all employees in all industries and sectors. The Deputy asked what I thought good employment was. He made the point that at a minimum, it should adhere to employment law in the sector and the effect of Commission regulations on the sector as well. I agree with him that at a minimum, there must be adherence to the law in the area. It is something I would expect to happen in any area of employment and particularly in an area where an important tax credit is in place.

Deputies Burton and Pearse Doherty commented on the social and economic impact of the relief. My Department has carried out a cost-benefit analysis of the operation of this scheme, including taking into account quantifiable benefits associated with the credit, such as taxes on direct and indirect wages, social welfare savings, VAT, corporation tax and taxes on earnings of foreign labour. The report was published on budget day and is available on the budget website. It is for that reason that I do not propose to accept the Deputy's amendment. Instead, I believe our participation in the audiovisual group, as I outlined, is a more appropriate way of dealing with the matter.

Deputy Pearse Doherty raised concerns about allegations of inflated claims for the credit. I am aware of the different stories to which he referred. I am also aware of the case that he mentioned, which will be subject to testing in court. I would point out that, in the changes that I have made to the Bill, it will provide for the credit to be moved to a self-assessment basis. This will allow for the normal penalty and prosecution provisions for any claim that is subsequently proven to be incorrect.

I appreciate that things are beginning to move on this and that some work has been done to quantify the impact and tighten up and streamline matters in a good way, but I should probably press the amendment because there is more to do.

I will say something before moving on to the general point. The Minister correctly agreed that, at a minimum, quality employment - this relief is not just about training, as current legislation refers to quality employment and training - is not just compliant with EU directives in the sector, but also with contract and employment law, the working time directive and so on. Does he further agree that the relief should be withheld where an employer is found to be in breach of those laws? It follows that he should. The relief says it should be conditional on these factors. If we find that employers are not applying contract law, they should not get the relief. That should be self-evident to a law-abiding party like Fine Gael. I am not joking. Unless there is a sense that quality employment has to be provided to get the relief, then there is room for slippage. Certainly, there are allegations that such is happening.

We need to put resources into establishing what is self-employment and PAYE, when it is appropriate to fall into one category rather than the other and so on. We need to determine whether there is bogus self-employment in the industry.

The Screen Industry Education Forum was good, but was any PAYE worker or trainee at it? As Deputy Pearse Doherty reminded us, one of the 11 recommendations was for a stakeholder industry forum. The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has indicated in principle that she is willing to take that recommendation. It has to happen in order that we can get the various groups together to air these issues and thrash them out. The whole industry will thrive and we will all be happy to put more money into it on the basis that we have clearly defined rules about what employment and training should look like. We will get buy-in from all stakeholders.

I am conscious of the fact that, while employers can be good ones that treat people well, they can also find themselves in breach of employment law at times because they have treated a particular employee wrongly, made mistakes or seen their company culture change. My experience of these matters and my view on them is that someone can be a good employer but still find himself or herself committing an offence under employment law, for which the employer should be subject to sanctions.

The Deputy's first question requires a clear answer. My direct answer is that, as Minister for Finance, if the Exchequer is making a credit available on the basis of quality employment and training and an employer who avails of it is frequently or in a sustained fashion in breach of employment law, it would cause me a question regarding the availability of that credit to the employer. I included the caveat because, in complex workplaces, particularly where there are many employees, there can be good employers who, by and large, make the right and good decisions but still find themselves in breach of employment law. At that point, they should be subject to sanction.

With that context given, if an employer or project was found to be committing offences that an employment agency judged to be happening frequently or becoming an acceptable or normal part of the workplace, it would cause me a question regarding whether it should be availing of the credit in the way the credit is currently designed.

I welcome that. I am not saying that there cannot be oversights. Of course there can be. People can make mistakes and there sometimes are grey areas. We are discussing quality employment. The majority of the employment in the companies that receive this relief should be direct PAYE employment. Of course it is reasonable and legitimate to employ some contractors or people on a freelance or self-employed basis, but if they comprise the vast majority and there are hardly any PAYE employees with continuity of employment and so on, then there is something wrong with the balance. This is something that the Government has acknowledged in terms of bogus self-employment in areas like construction. In RTÉ, for example, 50 people were found to have been wrongly classified as contractors when they were actually employed by RTÉ.

I appeal for us to examine this matter closely and find out who the employees in the industry are. It is a simple question. Who are the registered trainees? How long have they been trainees? That means that we will have to have a defined training period, by the way. At what point does someone cease to become a trainee and become qualified in a particular grade? Can we have a register of all the people who are qualified? Can we have a register of all the people who are employees in the various grades so that we know who the employees in the industry actually are? We can then work out whether there is fairness in terms of the allocation of employment, compliance with employment law and so on. These are basic elements and reasonable requests. That is why I am asking for there to be a study. I am not doing this to be flippant. However this amendment goes when I press it, I acknowledge the Minister is taking the issue seriously. I would like us to examine it comprehensively, set out all of the facts and establish what the playing field is in a fair way that sees the genuine buy-in by and involvement of all stakeholders in putting that picture together.

Under Standing Orders, the Minister cannot contribute again.

I have only replied once.

I thought the Minister could speak again.

He has contributed twice.

My apologies. I thought that the Minister had spoken twice.

He has spoken twice.

I did not remember.

I have been counting the figures.

I thought he would get to respond. I would be happy to-----

Is the amendment being pressed?

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 27; Níl, 44; Staon, 24.

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Staon

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Chambers, Lisa.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Troy, Robert.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Richard Boyd Barrett and Paul Murphy; Níl, Deputies Seán Kyne and Tony McLoughlin.
Amendment declared lost.