Home Building Finance Ireland Bill 2018: Committee Stage

SECTION 1

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, line 13, to delete "This Act shall come into operation" and substitute "This Act, other than Part 7, shall come into operation".

Amendments Nos. 1 and 8 to 21, inclusive, are grouped together and are required to extend the mortgage interest deferral relief for local property tax liabilities for one year in respect of 2019 local property tax liabilities and to continue to provide for the administration and collection of LPT by employers in line with PAYE modernisation changes due to come into effect on 1 January 2019.

Currently, in certain circumstances, it is possible to defer the payment of local property tax liabilities. Deferral is most commonly availed of by property owners whose annual income is less than €15,000 for a single person and €25,000 for a couple, whether this is a married couple, civil partners or certain cohabitants. This income threshold can be increased in the case of property owners paying mortgage interest. In regard to such mortgage interest payees, the higher income threshold will cease to apply for tax years after 2018, unlike the standard income threshold that will continue for one additional year.

The next valuation date for local property tax is 1 November 2019, which will determine tax liabilities for the years 2020 and 2021. Arrangements for this are currently being considered as part of the review of the local property tax being carried out by an interdepartmental group, as well as how payment deferrals will operate going forward. Pending the Minister’s consideration of the report of the review group and any Government decisions that may arise therefrom, the higher income threshold applied by section 133 of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 is being extended until 31 December 2019 in line with the standard income threshold. This change is contained in amendment No. 18.

Amendments Nos. 8 to 17, inclusive, and amendment 19 set out the changes necessary to allow for the continued collection of local property tax when the PAYE system is modernised with effect from 1 January 2019. They are procedural and technical in nature. They simply involve a change to the way in which local property tax deducted by employers is reported to Revenue and the documentation to be used for this purpose. The tax will be deducted at the same time as heretofore and the amount will be exactly the same with no change in rates or computation.

There are a range of methods for paying local property tax, including the option to deduct at source from a salary or occupational pension. The Finance Act 2017 introduced a fundamental redesign and modernisation of the PAYE system and includes a move for employers to a real-time electronic system for engaging with Revenue from 1 January 2019. The changes to the collection of local property tax mirror income tax changes introduced in the Finance Act 2017.

Employers who are directed to deduct local property tax from the salary of a liable person will be required to notify Revenue of the making of the relevant deduction on or before the making of payments to that liable person. Employers must also file a monthly return to report the local property tax deducted each month. Penalties will apply for failure to comply with these requirements.

The legislative changes underpinning the continued administration and collection of income tax under PAYE modernisation were enacted in the Finance Bill 2017. The changes proposed simply mirror for local property tax the changes enacted for income tax in the Finance Act 2017 in this regard.

The Ceann Comhairle has ruled that provisions concerning the local property tax are not appropriate for inclusion in the Finance Bill. As the proposed provisions must have an operative date of 1 January 2019, they need to be provided for in law before that date. Hence, their proposed inclusion in this Bill. Will I move on-----

The Minister of State is dealing with amendment No. 1. Amendments 8 to 21, inclusive, will be discussed together with it.

Is this the local property tax, LPT, stuff?

Yes. I call Deputy Ó Broin.

One of the many design flaws of the local property tax is the 4% annual interest charge for people who seek the deferral and it always seemed to me to be one of the most punitive elements of the legislation. We have a system where the State recognises there are people who simply cannot afford the tax. We have a mechanism for deferring that tax and yet we charge them a 4% annually accruing interest charge. If somebody is on a very low income, for example, a pensioner who might be asset rich but income poor, and has a deferral over a long period of time, the charge eventually put on their house is not only the LPT, which is a separate day's argument, but the accruing 4% annual interest charge. It always seemed to me to be one of the most punitive and ill-thought-out elements of it. Was any consideration given to removing that when the Minister of State was dealing with the broader substantive legislative amendment he has tabled here? It seems to me this would have been the ideal time to remove that inequitable element of the original legislation.

That is being considered in the overall context of the LPT. It was not considered for this aspect but as the Deputy is aware, the report is due shortly so it is being considered in that context. It is simple interest being charged also. It is not compound interest. However, I hear the Deputy's point about the 4%.

Is the Minister of State suggesting the Government may be open to removing that charge?

I am suggesting it is being considered.

Following on from that and a point I made in the debate yesterday, according to Revenue's own figures, 96% of those who seek deferrals do so because their income is insufficient. I believe the income threshold is €15,000. The Minister of State can correct me on the figures but the vast majority - 96% - of those who seek deferrals do so on income grounds, that is, they cannot afford to pay it. In addition, regarding the deductions made by employers, if I read the figures from Revenue correctly, they indicate that 63,000, and another 22,000 on top of that, which is 85,000 people, have it directly deducted. I assume many of those, and the Minister of State might be able elaborate on this, do so for reasons of having difficulty paying it but it is taken from them anyway by their employer. When all of that is added together, 48,000 people seek deferrals and 85,000 from whom it is taken automatically, probably in most cases because they find difficulty in paying it. That is a huge number of people who just are not able to pay. Does the Government consider the unfairness of that is something that needs to be addressed and that deferring it does not resolve it? It simply pushes it down the road and leads to accumulated debt, and the interest on that debt, when that debt arises from the fact their income is not sufficient to allow them pay it. Has the Government considered that? Does it believe it is fair?

To put the actual number on the record, the number of properties on which people pay via their employer is 115,000. I am not able to deduce from that number the reason people chose that method. I am sure there is a range of methods for which some people opt for whatever reasons, but I do not believe the Deputy can deduce it either.

In terms of the income thresholds-----

On a point of information, does the Minister of State not know the number of those deductions that are as a result of non-compliance?

Of non-compliance.

Does the Minister of State know what I mean, that it is a mandatory deduction? Do we not know that?

I am sorry. The mandatory deduction figure is 97,000-----

That is the mandatory deduction figure but the overall figure is almost 116,000. Those are the numbers. That is people choosing not to pay.

No, 96,000 is mandatory-----

That is correct. They chose-----

-----so the vast majority of the 160,000 is the State saying it is taking it.

The Deputy is deducing that they are choosing not to pay. I cannot deduce that. It is a matter for people to pay. This is the method by which it is collected. I am sorry; I am incorrect. The total number of properties is 213,000. The figure for voluntary deductions is 115,000 and in terms of the number of mandatory deductions, 97,000 are paid via their employer. The actual number is 213,000 pay via employers. I do not know why the 97,000 chose not to pay it. That is a matter for people. I do not know if the Deputy is able to put himself into their minds. People choose to pay or not to pay. It is collected by Revenue. It is a very high collection rate, and it is a tax that has to be paid.

When 46,000 or 48,000 - the Minister of State might confirm that figure - are seeking deferrals, 96% of whom are seeking those deferrals because their income is not sufficient to pay, is it not reasonable to deduce that if that percentage seeking deferrals are doing so because of their low income, that a very high proportion of those who are not complying and have it mandatorily taken from them are doing so because they cannot afford it or have extreme difficulty in paying it?

I am not able to deduce that; the Deputy is, however.

Can the Minister of State comment on the 48,000 we know do not have sufficient income?

There are 59,000 people below the income threshold, which is €15,000 for an individual or €25,000 for a couple. I cannot comment. The tax is the tax. It is in place. I believe the collection rate is 98%. I know the Deputy disputes that figure and the tax. He has always done so. He is fairly consistent in that, but it brings in approximately €500 million in total. It is one of the lowest property tax rates in Europe, if not the lowest.

This is my last question. One of the justifications for the tax at the time was that it was a sort of fair wealth tax. It certainly is not in the case of the 56,000 who seek deferrals because their income is less than either €15,000 as an individual or €25,000 as a couple. Is that not low income? At least in terms of that cohort, is that not fairly harsh?

The highest form of wealth in Ireland by a country mile is in property. Multiple times deposits, share value and every other section of wealth is property. The State collects €0.5 billion out of that significant wealth. The Deputy disagrees with that. He, and his colleagues on the left, are the few people who dispute that. This is a wealth tax. As I said, the highest form of wealth by a country mile is in the form of an asset that is property. A little less than €0.5 billion is collected annually from that. To put that into context, the income tax collection figure for this calendar year, the tax on income, will be €21.5 billion. It is more than 40 times that collected in income tax versus property. The Deputy knows from being a member of this committee for many years that a tax on income is a tax on jobs, and we have been in a position where we have to get people back into work. The Deputy has always disputed that and he continues to dispute it.

The facts are the facts. Most of the wealth in Ireland is in property. A modest amount of the overall tax take is from the highest valued property, which is wealth in Ireland.

I have a couple of questions for the Minister of State, the responses to which I hope will provide the committee with more factual data. Before doing so, I would like to respond to the Minister of State's point that the facts are the facts. It is incorrect to equate a house which is a family home with a second or third house or a portfolio of properties. The portfolio of properties brings in rental income and is a form of speculation. The family home is a roof over the heads of a family, including children. The Minister of State is lumping both together and saying facts are facts. He needs to drill down into the facts a little more before coming out with comments like that.

The property tax is first and foremost a tax on the family home, which is the reason there was such strong resistance to it. The Minister of State and his colleagues used the blunt instrument of Revenue in an effort to break that resistance. The statistics provided to the committee today indicate that the level of resistance to it, despite Revenue being on the battlefield, is, perhaps, a little greater than was previously the case. I want to drill down into those statistics. Approximately 97,000 people did not volunteer to pay the property tax and had it deducted by their employers. Some of them may have liked it that way but I am pretty sure that the vast bulk of them did not. If one tried to put 97,000 in Croke Park there would be an overspill. Will the Minister of State say if that number is increasing or decreasing? Can he provide the committee with the statistics for the previous year and the year before that so that we can see if the curve is upwards or downwards? Similarly, in regard to the 56,000 deferrals, what number of people sought deferrals in the past two years?

There are 1.92 million properties in Ireland. The current figure for involuntary payments is 97,018. In 2017, it was 90,000 and in 2016 it was 80,000. On the general question, Ireland was the only jurisdiction in the EU that did not have a property tax. Maybe Ireland was right and all of the other countries were wrong in terms of the collection of tax from property or maybe it is the other way around. As I said, the yield is less than 1% of GDP, or €500 million, in a jurisdiction where the total tax yield is approximately €52 billion. The actual figure is €470 million. The left in Ireland has chosen to oppose the property tax. It is the only left in Europe to oppose a property tax, which is a tax on wealth. I have not lumped properties together. Rather, I said that property is the highest form of wealth in this country by a country mile. That is true. Most properties are held by an individual as a primary home. I am not disputing that that is the case.

On the facts, the Minister of State has indicated that the non-compliance rate has increased steadily for the last number of years, now standing at 97,000. Will he confirm that deferrals, 96% of which are based on insufficient income, have also increased? In other words, there are people whose income is insufficient to enable them to pay and, therefore, they are seeking deferrals? The Minister of State said that the figure for deferrals is 56,000. As far as I am aware, it is 48,000. There has been a leap in the number of deferrals being sought on the grounds of insufficient income, which is pretty significant. Will he confirm that is the case?

The number of deferrals in 2016 was 55,000. In 2017, it was almost 59,000 and in 2018 it is 57,700, which means deferrals are decreasing. I do not have the percentage in this regard because during that period the number of units could have been greater. As I said, there are currently 1.92 million properties but this increases or decreases as new units come on stream and some are excluded.

There are 97,000 involuntary deductions from wages, which is less than 5% of the overall number. The Deputy references this 5% all of time, as do other people on the left, but he never references the 95% of people who are satisfied to pay the tax.

The Minister of State gave us the figures for 2016 and 2017. We also need the figure for 2015. From my read of the Revenue statistics, the figure for deferrals started at 48,000.

The figure for 2015 is 46,000.

It has increased from 46,000 to 57,700. The Minister of State said that it is not possible for us to deduce why people are not complying but likewise he cannot deduce that those who are complying are doing so on a voluntary or enthusiastic basis.

I cannot. I also made the point that from 2015 to 2018 the number of people in employment has increased such that we have almost full employment.

I find myself in disagreement with my colleague, Deputy Boyd Barrett and-----

-----the Minister of State.

I would expect that.

It is possible to gauge whether people do or do not want to pay the property tax. Just because 95% of the people pay property tax without deduction does not mean one can conclude that 95% are satisfied to pay their taxes. If the Government was to revert to the household tax and make it a voluntary payment rather than one forcibly deductible by Revenue if not paid, it would then be possible to gauge the number of people who were happy, or not, to pay it. I suggest that the reason the Government does not do this is because it knows that an awful lot less than 95% are satisfied to pay what is an odious tax on people's homes.

We are in pre-budget season. Taxes are the means by which we fund State services. Deputy Barry is saying that he would prefer if people were given the opportunity to pay or not. If we were to do that with income tax or corporation tax, we would not be collecting the amount of money we are collecting and we would not have recovered from the tax revenues of a decade ago, at which time we had transactional taxes which were keeping the ship afloat. We now have a stable tax base. As I said, the yield from income tax is almost €22.5 billion. The next highest yield comes from VAT, followed by corporation taxes and excise and duties.

If we want to run the country and provide funds for the services which the Deputy decries we are not collecting enough tax, this is one of those taxes and one of the lesser taxes. It is a tax on the highest form of wealth in this country, which is property.

We are into a political ideological debate on which the lines are clearly drawn, and it might be useful to get factual information on it. I had one final question but it has slipped my mind.

Do Deputy Ó Broin or Cowen wish to comment?

I recognise the methodology behind this proposal in light of the continued review of the property tax in general and the various recommendations that will emanate from the public consultation process but there are elements of it which need to be tweaked to protect the safeguards that were in place for those on lower income, for those who had mortgage interest relief, where that mortgage interest relief, or the lack of it, may allow them to fall into the threshold to defer payment. We support the Government recommendations for, and await with interest, the consultation process on the property tax. Having talked to councillors who were faced with a Hobson's choice of altering the property tax in their area by the 15% variation that they have in order to bolster their own finances, one comment they made to me in recent weeks and months is that they are conscious of concessions that were in place previously that may be extended into the future. For example, if we eventually meet the targets set by Government for new house building perhaps property tax in an area could bolster the income of local authorities rather than them receiving the envisaged "Dear John" letter from the Department of Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

I remember the question I had.

The Deputy's time is up. He has missed his place in the queue.

Can I ask a one-line question?

I have never heard the Deputy only ask a one-line question.

I take it that it is not part of the confidence and supply agreement discussion regarding the local property tax, or is it?

Unless the Chairman wants to bring it into that realm, which I have no doubt he has every capability of doing.

I thank the Deputy for that.

Has the Minister of State a figure for the administrative costs of collecting the €470 million in property tax, and if he does not, could he supply it?

I will try to get that figure for the Deputy.

What was the question?

I asked for the administrative costs of collecting the property tax.

Many of the payments come through online, which involve a lower administrative cost.

Is there a figure for that online cost?

I will check that and try to get that figure for the Deputy.

It would be helpful if the Minister of State would not mind arranging that.

Amendment put and declared carried.
Section 1, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 2 to 6, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 7

Amendment No. 2 in the name of Deputy Pearse Doherty has been ruled out of order as it posed a potential charge on the Exchequer.

Amendment No. 2 not moved.

Are we dealing with section 7?

Yes. Amendment No. 3 is in the name of Deputy Pearse Doherty.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 7, line 25, to delete "State." and substitute the following:

"State, and

(iii) prioritise builders who have financially viable development proposals but who are unable to access sufficient finance.".

While I know it is not the fault or responsibility of anyone in this room, I have had a very long conversation with the Ceann Comhairle's office on the amendments and I notify the committee there is a strong likelihood we will be submitting slightly revised amendments in respect of amendments Nos. 2, 4 and 6 that will not fall into the same difficulty on Report Stage.

The section and all the amendments I had wanted to submit, but particularly the one I have been able to formally move, cut to the heart of this particular proposal. When Home Building Finance Ireland, HBFI, was first announced many of us thought it had the potential to be very useful but only if it met a certain set of criteria. For the Government simply to put €750 million of taxpayers' money, albeit through the Strategic Investment Fund, into the available pool of lending for viable builders in and of itself was not sufficient to justify such a large amount of expenditure and we believe certain conditions should certainly be explored on Committee Stage. For example, the idea that this fund should target builders, particularly small and medium sized builders, who have viable projects but have genuine difficulty accessing finance, particularly the cocktail of bank and mezzanine finance, would be an eminently sensible idea because they would need the finance and, therefore, this would assist construction. Likewise, a corollary of that is that if the Government was simply to make this available to any builder who is viable, it would not add any additionality and, for us, that is a crucial issue.

A second issue is that of affordability. While that was not included in the Minister's budget day speech last year, if the Government is going to release that level of borrowing and potentially double the €750 million in terms of its leveraged addition from the private market, that money could have huge benefits in terms of delivering genuinely affordable homes. The Government is quite confused about affordability but affordability is defined, in the first instance, by the Central Bank. It is related to people's income, for example, if one is buying a house it might be three and a half times one's gross salary. We know the households who are locked out of the purchase market are, for example, households whose gross income ranges between €45,000 and €75,000. Three and a half times those households' gross income tells us the amount they are potentially able to borrow minus their deposit. If we were to target this measure at those people locked out of the market elsewhere in terms of assisting the delivery of homes within that price range, that would be hugely beneficial. The problem is that neither of those two criteria is included in this measure. There was a suggestion at an earlier stage that this measure might breach EU state aid rules but, following our conversation with the Minister of State's officials, if the Government was to model this in a similar way to the Rebuilding Ireland home finance loan and was to have the same type of eligibility criteria, it would clearly get over the state aid rule issues. It seems to be a question of whether the Government wants to do those two things.

Amendment No. 3, which is one of our four or five amendments that have been permitted, basically provides that the only people who should be getting this finance are builders who have viable projects but cannot get finance elsewhere. If builders can get finance elsewhere, they should not be borrowing this money. That seems to be pretty straightforward and, on that basis, this is an amendment that is particularly important to making this funding sensible.

I want to make one other comparison. Deputy Cowen will recall we a discussion in the housing committee on the local infrastructure housing activation fund, LIHAF, which provides for €200 million, and there will also be a second round of it. We were told that fund would have two purposes, namely, to get some infrastructure funding to developers who cannot access that finance to unlock their development and to get an affordability dividend. What we have seen in the first tranche of contracts signed is that almost none of the developers who got that money needed it. It has been admitted by the Department that the vast majority of those developments would have happened anyway. The figures from the Department show that there is virtually no affordability dividend in terms of providing homes at a purchase price available for people with gross incomes of between €45,000 and €75,000.

If we do not insist on those kinds of conditions being built into this legislation, we will have another debacle, as we have had with the housing infrastructure activation fund, except on a much bigger scale. We would be putting €750 million into the market and we will not get any additionality in terms of supply and we will not get affordability. I urge the Minister of State between now and Report Stage to think through with his officials how we can we target this fund in a way that meets those two criteria. I know his officials will tell him, if they have not done so already, that this is what the intention of the lenders will be when they meet people, but I would much prefer if that was copperfastened into the legislation so that it would not be discretionary but mandatory in terms of the lending from this facility.

Every opportunity must be taken to highlight the scandalous suite of measures being introduced by this Government to provide a form of corporate welfare to private developers to enable them to profit from the current housing crisis of which Home Building Finance Ireland, HBFI, is another component.

Every opportunity must be taken to highlight the scandalous suite of measures being introduced by this Government to provide a form of corporate welfare to private developers to enable them to profit from the current housing crisis, of which Home Building Finance Ireland, HBFI, is another component. The suite of measures, when taken together, is shocking in the extreme. It includes NAMA's policy for disposal, the local infrastructure housing activation fund, LIHAF, HBFI and the Land Development Agency. When one thinks about how they add up, it is beyond scandalous. The Mafia could not have dreamt up a scheme like this. What we are doing is selling land to private developers at massive discounts via NAMA or giving developers cheap land via the Land Development Agency. We are then using public money to provide the services infrastructure - roads, sewers and so on - via the LIHAF. Then we are going to lend money to developers, to whom the banks will not lend, to build on that land. The public is doing everything for these people and at the end of this process they will sell the properties they build at unaffordable market prices. We are handing to these people the means of making enormous sums of money, courtesy of the public and, at the end of it, we will have housing that no one can afford. The people who need that housing will not be able to afford it.

I am a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Budgetary Oversight which engaged with representatives of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, IFAC, yesterday. They pointed out that while there is no immediate threat of overheating in the economy, the one area where overheating is possible is in the housing sector because rents and property prices are too high. This is creating pressure and could cause economic overheating by fuelling wage demands and labour shortages, thus reducing the capacity of the economy. This Government scheme is going to fuel this further. It is not going to supply housing to the people who need it and will create an overheating pressure within the economy, and yet the Government is going ahead with it. It is beyond belief. The only beneficiary from this will be the developer. I do not understand how the Government can possibly justify this. I am keen to hear the Minister of State's response, but without an absolute condition that no finance is extended to anyone to do anything other than build social and affordable housing, then HBFI is a scandal. If it had the conditionality that finance would be extended to build only social and affordable housing, there would be some justification for it, but other than that, it is outrageous.

I will read my departmental note first and then I will comment on the Deputies' concerns. I understand that amendments Nos. 2, 4 and 6 have been ruled out of order so I will focus on amendment No. 3 which seeks to require HBFI to prioritise certain borrowers. I am required to reject this amendment on the grounds that it would hinder the efficient delivery of funding by HBFI and may have state aid implications, potentially leaving the State open to challenge. Section 7 provides HBFI with the functions necessary to provide funding on market terms to any commercially viable residential development project in the State which meets its eligibility criteria. This captures development proposals that include social and affordable housing, cost rental and others set out in the amendments that were originally proposed. It is important to note that HBFI is designed to avoid displacing funding that exists in the State. As such it is expected that HBFI will focus its activities on segments of the market that are not well provided for by funders in the market, that is, precisely the type of builders that this amendment seeks to address.

It is well understood that many of the main banks and funds are focused on providing funding only for large developments or those located in key urban centres. HBFI will be open to smaller projects of more than ten units and will accept applications for viable residential projects throughout the State. As larger developers are being catered for by the main banks, HBFI’s lending will be comparatively more attractive for small and medium-sized builders who are having greater difficulty accessing finance. This strategic focus should go some way to alleviating some of the Deputies' concerns.

Taking into account HBFI’s strategic focus, this amendment would have no practical effect in ensuring that builders who have struggled to receive sufficient finance will be granted access to HBFI funding as HBFI will fund any viable project that meets its eligibility criteria. Placing an obligation on HBFI to assess whether an applicant has been unable to access sufficient funding from elsewhere for commercially viable residential projects will place a needless administrative burden on HBFI. This will impede the fast and effective delivery of funding to support much-needed new residential developments. In crafting the legislation we have been careful to ensure that HBFI is established in compliance with state aid rules and that there would be no element of selectivity in HBFI’s lending activities. Attempting to restrict or prioritise the type of lending HBFI will conduct could give rise to complaints from other prospective borrowers also wishing to access this funding.

The real benefit here is that HBFI can give up to 80% of funding. As I understand it, the banks will provide 60% of funding to builders to build, after the site is paid for, which means that there is 40% to be bridged. Deputy Ó Broin touched on the fact that this 40% is hugely expensive. I have heard of up to 15% mezzanine finance for that 40%, which reduces significantly the margin for building, and the margin for building is what is doing damage to the supply chain. The smaller builders building ten or more units are not getting a hearing from the banks because they are too small. The banks would have to do due diligence on someone building ten or 20 houses in the same way as they would for someone building 100 or 200. The same amount of work goes into that process.

The benefit of HBFI is that the 40% mezzanine finance can be reduced and be as low as 20%. Deputy Ó Broin agrees that this is the real benefit of HBFI. This is not designed for a site of six to 12 acres in Dublin city with between 30 to 50 units per acre. Such projects are being funded already. The market is sufficiently strong for those projects to be funded directly by the banks and the projects are sufficiently profitable to enable the developers to pay between 12% and 15% for mezzanine finance. However, projects in my constituency in County Wexford or in Deputy Cowen's constituency in County Offaly are not being funded. Developers are not even getting a hearing and that is where HBFI will come in.

We can have an ideological debate like the one we had earlier but this is a good thing. This reduces the level of mezzanine finance that will be required by those smaller, mid-level builders who might have a small site and who can have an impact in the country. We can disagree about it on a fundamental basis but this is a good thing and it will help. It might not do an awful lot for Dublin because it is too small, but it is not aimed at developers of large, high-density schemes in the middle of Dublin.

I will call Deputy Boyd Barrett, Deputy Ó Broin and then Deputy Cowen.

The Minister of State has made a very interesting and accurate admission. This will not be of any use in Dublin.

We could probably add Cork and other places where not only the crisis is most acute but the different elements that have produced this unprecedented housing crisis, including property prices, are most acute. We are going to put €750 million into an initiative that will have no impact in the areas worst affected by the housing crisis. That is a serious admission.

Before the Deputy continues, that is not what I am saying. There are other funding streams that will impact on Dublin. This is expected to impact on small and mid-level builders who are building smaller units that they are having difficulty in funding. It has not been tailored for Dublin only. It will operate purely on a commercial basis. Will the Deputy, please, not extract small segments of what I am saying and apply them fully to mean that this initiative will make no difference? It will make a much greater difference in some areas than in others.

I thank the Minister of State.

The Minister of State said it himself - he was right to do so - it is not going to impact in areas such as Dublin. There is, by the way, an obvious reason for that. The smaller builder cannot access finance or is not building because site values have gone through the roof.

That is not the case.

Hold on, please.

That is certainly what Mr. Mel Reynolds is arguing. He is correct, even as it relates to some of the large sites. Firms such as, for example, Hines in Cherrywood will parcel their sites and offer them for sale to smaller builders at extortionate prices. Those prices increase constantly. If planning permission is acquired, for example, the price will increase. If the Government changes the law to reduce standards, the value increases.

No one is changing the law to reduce standards.

I am sorry, but will the Minister of State, please, allow the Deputy to continue?

When statements that are wrong-----

A property does not need to have a southern aspect or something can be built higher. All of these little changes, including strategic development zone designation, mean that the value will increase. Therefore, the little builder who buys a site is doing so at an inflated cost. It is not viable for a builder to build without charging astronomical prices. A bank in looking at this situation would not believe it added up and many builders are not getting involved because it does not add up. Arguably, even the larger builders are not building. They are just sitting on land because it does not add up to build. The Minister of State is saying this initiative will not resolve that issue and clearly it will not in places such as Dublin. It will only be effective in places where the crisis is not acute. What is the point of that?

One second, please. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin wishes to contribute. I will then call Deputy Barry Cowen.

My only disagreement with Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett is that, unlike LIHAF, this is not a giveaway to builders. Importantly, it is a loan facility, on which there is a commercial rate of return. Therefore, it will profit from these loans. My concern is not about that matter; rather, it is about whether this is the most appropriate use of the money in trying to tackle the housing crisis.

I wish to address the state aid concerns. The Rebuilding Ireland home loan is a different type of loan, but it still has to comply with state aid rules. Applicants must indicate refusals or insufficient offers from other lending institutions. That will allow them to access not only this product but a product that carries a much better interest rate, a fixed rate of 2% or 2.5% for the term of the loan. That is how it avoids state aid rules. No one has explained to me how we could not have had a similar facility for this initiative if that is what the Government wanted to do.

There seems to be a contradiction in the Minister of State's argument. On the one hand, he is telling us that the Government wants to focus on small and medium-sized builders who are having difficulty in accessing commercial finance. He is right about the cost of mezzanine finance crippling them. It is as great an issue in Dublin as it is outside it, albeit for smaller developments. On the other hand, the Minister of State is telling us that the Government cannot lock it into the legislation for fear of being in breach of state aid rules. That makes no sense. Either the initiative is targeting those builders or it is not.

My worry is not academic, as this is already happening with LIHAF. We were told that it was only for builders who could not access infrastructural funding from commercial banks to unlock their developments. Things would be built that would not be if LIHAF was not in place. Cherrywood is a good example of what is happening in that developers with no shortage of access to infrastructural funding are accessing considerable amounts of LIHAF funding, but that money is not unlocking a development that would not have happened otherwise. Nothing the Minister of State has described would prevent such an eventuality with this fund, even if that is not the intention or focus. Unless we say this finance is for the purpose of unlocking developments only, there is no guarantee the money could not end up with a developer who would have built the houses anyway.

The issues of viability and affordability are important. I accept that, on the basis of what is in front of us, the initiative will reduce the cost of mezzanine finance, but that will not make the homes in the areas where affordability is a problem any more affordable. The small reduction in the overall sale price of a home arising from the decrease in the cost of financing will not make a difference. While the financing cost of the average home price of €320,000 or €340,000 might be €10,000 or €20,000, the cost of land, development fees and developer's profits are pushing up the price. I do not see how the Government can prevent this fund from ending up with people who do not need it. The Minister of State might ask why they would apply for it, but the experience of LIHAF suggests they will. I do not see why the Government would release such a large amount of money without some guarantee of affordability, at least for some of the loans.

The Minister of State will not agree with me on Committee Stage, but he and his officials must examine this issue before Report Stage. If we could ensure some of the loan finance will get to projects that will make homes available for purchase to people across the State on incomes of between €45,000 and €75,000, it would be a much better use of the money than what is being proposed. I will not get into a long discussion back and forth with the Minister of State, as we will return to this matter on Report Stage, but I urge him to consider my suggestion before then.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett stated the obvious. We are all too well aware of the problem. Unfortunately, it has been the case for too long and is impacting on people in a detrimental fashion, in that property and rental prices are too high. Increased supply is the answer. Other efforts are being made to address that issue, but LIHAF has been referenced. It is commendable but slow. The local authority house building programme's targets are commendable but slow. We can argue who is at fault and while it is wrong to get into the blame game, local authorities do not have the discretion they require to do the job we expect them to do. It is time the Government considered increasing their discretion by a multiple of the current amount of €2 million. The Department could perform regular audits thereafter to ensure the local authorities were in line with the various expectations, regulations and rules for the procurement of public finance. That would give greater ownership to local authorities and their members and allow them to play the part they played historically and want to play again to address this issue. We have been making this suggestion for a long time.

The affordable schemes the Government is seeking from local authorities are commendable, but, once again, they are taking too long. In terms of the current call, there is no obligation on local authorities to meet it until next June. It will not result in a property until two years later.

We are still in the midst of a pilot cost-rental scheme. It is a fine idea and there was much merit associated with it initially. It is commendable but too slow. It is a facet of the Government's handling of the issue. There is a lack of urgency and determination to get to the root of it. We are at a juncture where we have to see real and concrete measures that can have the impact other efforts failed to have. Many will have an impact in time but, as the Minister of State has acknowledged, they will have an impact without the immediacy that is required. I called for this last year and the year before. It was announced in last year's budget but it is not yet on the ground, which highlights the lack of urgency that is necessary to make this available. I make no apologies for saying this is necessary. There are builders out there, big and small, who cannot get access to finance and if they cannot get access to finance they cannot put homes on the ground. If we cannot put homes on the ground, property prices and rental prices will stay high. For some here, it allows them the opportunity to continue to have a drum to beat. Until the Government wakes up to that reality they will still be beating that drum and unfortunately nobody will get a resolution. There is much merit in the amendment. It is the blueprint for what should be the case with all building by local authorities, social housing agencies, the State and private developers in the next two years if not beyond. It means that 10% should be social, 30% should be affordable and the remainder can be private. That would meet with universal approval in the committee and the Dáil. If that was the case for the next two years perhaps the people would see there is a unified attempt to bring about a successful resolution to the issue.

I would add to that the credit unions which are an integral part of many communities across the country. They are under great strain as a result of Central Bank restrictions on their activities in the financial services sector. It impinges on their ability to make profits which impinges on their ability to provide the sort of support they have provided historically and which they can and want to provide in their communities in the future. They could contribute based on the amount of funding they have available, which is up to €8 billion. As a result of the present restrictive rules on their ability to play a role, they are confined to propping up the pillar banks, the same pillar banks who will not lend to the sector. The Government must allow them to invest in such a vehicle, which in turn can reap rewards for their communities. It could offer the opportunity of a revenue stream so the credit unions can continue to play a part in their communities when others in their communities are being lost as a result of advances in technology and other things. It will affect the ability of those communities to thrive into the future. There is a win-win aspect to much of this and we should not be playing the political game of who is associated with the success. Everybody is to blame for the failure so everybody can play a part in a successful conclusion despite the unfortunate delays which have happened despite everybody's best will.

There is much merit in the proposal. I echo the comments of Deputy Ó Broin imploring the Minister of State to consider this before Report Stage and to allow it to be a blueprint for development finance. The State has to intervene as a result of the lack of affordable and competitive finance being made available to the sector, big and small. Every time one talks about builders and developers, one talks about big developers. There are many small builders around the country with a lot of people on their books who are prepared to work especially in their own communities and regions. Carpenters, bricklayers, labourers and electricians are part of the service too. They are part of the sector. They have families and they have an entitlement to play their parts in ensuring their families have an opportunity to remain in their own communities.

I will make one overarching point before I address those bits and pieces. This is one of a suite of options; it is not the only option. Deputy Boyd Barrett questioned the usefulness of it. It is useful and beneficial but it is not the defining piece that fixes it all. The fixing of the housing and construction sector in Ireland is multifaceted and there are many different options. My concern about this amendment is about builders not developers. There are some builders who still have small portions of land but developers have hundreds of acres and they want to build 30, 40 or 50 units per acre. This is specifically about smaller builders for example a smaller builder with a ten acre plot of land. If Deputy Ó Broin's amendment is successful, the funding purely for social and affordable housing will be an issue because economy of scale will be an issue. If a builder owns ten acres of land, for example, and wants to have some private and some affordable he will have to provide 10% social housing under Part V if it is zoned land. My concern is because of the economy of scale considerations that if one is developing ten acres and one is chiselling out 40%, which is 30% affordable and 10% social, one will only be able to build on a specific four acres and it can only be funded under this scheme. The developer will still be stuck on the remaining 60% for private housing. That is what this is for. It is not an "us and them" situation. It is not social and affordable housing versus private housing. Many people in the private housing sector have the opportunity of getting loans from the State under the Rebuilding Ireland scheme. There is the 40-year loan for individuals earning less than €50,000 and couples earning less than €75,000. The interaction between private, social and affordable is important and that is where the real benefit comes for a smaller builder on a ten acre site.

To be clear, we are dealing with amendment No. 3. We are not dealing with the amendments concerning social and affordable housing because they have been ruled out of order. There is nothing in these amendments that is being prescriptive. What it is saying is if this vehicle is going to lend it needs to target people who cannot access finance elsewhere and it needs to target the delivery of homes that people can buy. The detail of that will be worked out. We are not proposing that 10% or 20% specifically be allocated because that would affect the viability of any scheme. The purpose of the fund should be to target certain types of developers to produce certain types of houses. I just want the Minister of State to be clear on what my intention is and I urge him to have a think about it between now and Report Stage. We will return to it at that point.

The problem with all this is it is predicated on the idea that if one increases supply it will help resolve the crisis. If we increase supply but the supply is unaffordable it will not resolve the crisis; it will make the crisis worse. That is the basic point I put to the Minister of State and he did not really answer it. We had supply at a very high level before the crash but it was unaffordable supply. At a certain point it became clear that the people who borrowed the money could not pay it back because there was no market for that number of unaffordable properties. Yet we are going to do it again. The banks are saying "We are not doing that again" because they can see where it is heading and they see where it headed last time but the Government is going to step in and do what the banks will not do to repeat the mistakes of the past. I do not see why the Government would do it. It is crazy to do it.

Mel Reynolds in particular has been arguing very strongly that housing output will start to decline and will not gradually increase as the Government believes. Developers and builders know that because they know there is not a market for large-scale housing at current prices. However, they have to sell at current prices to recover their costs. They will, therefore, sit on developments or drip-feed housing to keep prices high. It is now proposed to facilitate more of that through House Building Finance Ireland, HBFI. This will not solve the problem we are trying to solve, namely, the housing and homelessness emergency where large numbers of people are locked out of the market because of unaffordable prices. It will also contribute to doing what we did prior to 2008.

I am not the only one highlighting overheating in the housing market. The Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, IFAC, has also highlighted the issue. It is driving up the cost of accommodation to unsustainable levels with all the dangers that creates for the economy. The Minister of State has said nothing that answers that fundamental question. Does he believe that simply by increasing supply, house prices will come down at some point? If he does, he is living in cloud cuckoo land. The evidence shows clearly that as housing supply increased, so too did house prices. They did not go the other way.

Prices went down.

Is the Minister of State saying that prices went down pre-2008?

Prices after-----

Pre-2008, housing supply and house prices went up.

Prices went down after 2008.

Could we have just one voice, please? The Minister of State should allow Deputy Boyd Barrett to conclude.

I am asking the question. Does the Minister of State acknowledge that as supply ramped up in the years prior to 2008, prices went up rather than down and we then went over a cliff?

Yes, prices went down then.

The sector took the rest of the economy with it.

The Minister of State acknowledged he would give consideration to the thrust of what is being said in terms of how the funding will be made available and for what purpose. I will counter the argument that is always made by my colleague, Deputy Boyd Barrett. The criteria associated with affordability in Part V of the planning legislation were restrictive and the measure did not have the desired effect because developers were allowed to buy it out. That practice was subsequently disallowed and the lesson was learned. A formula can be devised to give an acceptable level of profitability to the builder while accommodating those who are in the affordability gap, namely, the cohort of people who do not qualify for social housing and cannot afford a mortgage from the banks. This funding can help to ensure that. For example, if it is made available to somebody developing a Land Development Agency site, which will be public land, it should be definitively predicated on the provision of social and affordable homes as well as private housing. Developers will see where they will go with private developments, depending on the amount of supply and the impact it will have, and that should level off prices. However, if we want to assist those who have not received any help, despite the schemes that were introduced in the past two years with the best of intentions, we have to quantify the numbers involved and set criteria to ensure they get an opportunity to buy at an affordable price and do not pay more than 30% of their income on housing.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendment No. 4 has been ruled out of order as it incurs a potential charge on the State.

Amendment No. 4 not moved.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 7, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:

“(3) In complying with its obligation under subsection (2)(b)(i), HBFI shall have regard to the policy of the Government relating to housing.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 6 in the name of Deputy Doherty has been ruled out of order as it incurs a potential charge on revenue.

Amendment No. 6 not moved.
Question, “That section 7, as amended, stand part of the Bill”, put and declared carried.
Sections 8 to 17, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 18
Question proposed: "That section 18 stand part of the Bill."

At this stage I would like to flag that the Minister for Finance intends to introduce two amendments to streamline the administrative requirements of HBFI with respect to capital gains clearance certificates and stamp duty. Those amendments are technical in nature and will not reduce the tax burden of HBFI in any way.

Question put and agreed to.
Question, “That section 19 stand part of the Bill”, put and declared carried.
NEW SECTION

I move amendment No 7:

In page 14, after line 36, to insert the following:

“Amendment of Freedom of Information Act 2014

20. The Freedom of Information Act 2014 is amended—

(a) in section 2(1), by the insertion of the following definition:

“ ‘HBFI group entity’ has the same meaning as it has in the Home Building Finance Ireland Act 2018;”,

and

(b) in Part 1 of Schedule 1—

(i)in paragraph (ai), by the substitution of “functions;” for “functions,”, and

(ii) by the insertion of the following paragraphs after paragraph (aj):

“(ak) the National Treasury Management Agency in the performance of the functions conferred on it under the Home Building Finance Ireland Act 2018 insofar as it relates to records concerning the following:

(i) providers or potential providers of finance (including loans) to Home Building Finance Ireland or any HBFI group entity;

(ii) companies, firms, funds or any other entities to which Home Building Finance Ireland or any HBFI group entity has provided finance (including loans) or could potentially provide finance (including loans);

(iii) market counterparties or potential market counterparties of Home Building Finance Ireland or any HBFI group entity;

(iv) purchasers or potential purchasers of —

(I) a loan,

(II) an asset, or

(III) an asset securing a loan, held or managed by Home Building Finance Ireland or any HBFI group entity;

(al) Home Building Finance Ireland in the performance of the functions conferred on it under the Home Building Finance Ireland Act 2018 insofar as it relates to records concerning the following:

(i) providers or potential providers of finance (including loans) to Home Building Finance Ireland or any HBFI group entity;

(ii) companies, firms, funds or any other entities to which Home Building Finance Ireland or any HBFI group entity has provided finance (including loans) or could potentially provide finance (including loans);

(iii) market counterparties or potential market counterparties of Home Building Finance Ireland or any HBFI group entity;

(iv) purchasers or potential purchasers of —

(I) a loan,

(II) an asset, or

(III) an asset securing a loan, held or managed by Home Building Finance Ireland or any HBFI group entity;

(am) a HBFI group entity in the performance of the functions conferred on it under the Home Building Finance Ireland Act 2018 insofar as it relates to records concerning the following:

(i) providers or potential providers of finance (including loans) to Home Building Finance Ireland or any HBFI group entity;

(ii) companies, firms, funds or any other entities to which Home Building Finance Ireland or any HBFI group entity has provided finance (including loans) or could potentially provide finance (including loans);

(iii) market counterparties or potential market counterparties of Home Building Finance Ireland or any HBFI group entity;

(iv) purchasers or potential purchasers of —

(I) a loan,

(II) an asset, or

(III) an asset securing a loan, held or managed by Home Building Finance Ireland or any HBFI group entity.”.”.

The objective of HBFI is to provide credit to builders and developers with commercially viable residential sites. For HBFI to lend successfully to those entities, it needs to be in a position to guarantee absolute confidentiality to potential applicants and market counterparties. While the Freedom of Information Act contains protections for third party information, it does not afford the degree of confidentiality expected in the market. Without the necessary level of confidentiality to the records of HBFI, the danger is it may be made ineffective by severely limiting the appetite of builders and developers to seek finance from HBFI.

The potential for information to be released in relation to borrowers which would not be made available were they to obtain loans from private institutions would potentially create an uneven market environment for HBFI. This amendment provides limited exclusions to address these concerns, bringing HBFI in line with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, SBCI, and other commercial state agencies.

In order to ensure transparency, the Freedom of Information Act will continue to apply as normal to HBFI in relation to such documents as strategy and policy papers, board and management meeting minutes, papers and agendas, internal correspondence, correspondence with Departments and administrative records such as contracts, expenses, etc.

In addition, it is necessary to extend this partial exemption to the National Treasury Management Agency. The NTMA is conferred with certain functions under section 9 of the Home Building Finance Ireland Bill 2018. This may result in the NTMA holding records in relation to the operations of HBFI. For the same reasons that I have just described, these records need to be protected when they are held by the NTMA in the performance of its functions under the HBFI Bill. The exemption for the NTMA in this regard is therefore a mirror image of the exemption for HBFI.

I cannot support this amendment. This involves €750 million of taxpayers' money. It is not the same as private commercial investments and there has to be a mechanism to allow Members of the Oireachtas or members of the public to properly scrutinise it. Increasingly in the housing funding area we are seeing exclusions of this kind, either in practice or in legislation.

For example, decisions on the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme, which is a product that has merit and is not one for which I have criticised the Government, are based on a credit policy that has been designed by the Department or the Housing Finance Agency yet we are not able to get access to that credit policy, even in some redacted form, where we want to ensure that refusals under the scheme have been done in accordance with the rules. This is a real problem because it is a publicly funded scheme and we want to ensure consistency across local authorities. We are now having the same problem with the increasing use of public private partnerships in the delivery of social housing. The Chairman has raised this in other areas, but again, when public private partnerships for social housing are now developed, they are developed on the basis of benchmarking exercises developed by the Department. This is locked in secrets, however, and we as Members of the Oireachtas have no ability to assess whether there is value for money for the taxpayer. The level of exclusions is very worrying to me. Given the scale of the investment - and I know it is a commercial investment with a commercial return - if something goes wrong in this scheme, a committee, whether the Committee of Public Accounts or this committee, could come back in a year or two wanting to know what went wrong. These exclusions prevent us from doing that. I am not saying all exclusions would be unnecessary, but the breadth of these exclusions is very worrying, and I certainly could not accept them.

I wish to make pretty much the same point. I find difficulty even at local authority level for the same reasons of trying to find out the details of Part V arrangements between the local authority and the private developers in terms of the 10% or, as it was previously with the affordable element, the 20%. One cannot get sight of these things. One does not know exactly what the arrangements are, which is completely unacceptable when we are talking about public money but is just an extension of the folly of this entire scheme. If one wanted to help a small builder, one could just put out a tender for the small builder to build on public land. By doing it in this way, however, one gets into having to compromise with the market, with all the commercial sensitivity and commercial secrecy stuff, which means public money goes out and there is no real accountability in respect of it. As well as the reasons Deputy Ó Broin outlined, there are myriad reasons this is totally unacceptable and folly, and we will certainly oppose it.

This is a mirror image of the SBCI and NAMA. If someone applied and made all his or her financial details available to HBFI for a loan, that information would not be made available under FOI, so this is the same as NAMA. Commercial sensitivity is involved, which is the reason we are mirroring exactly what the SBCI and NAMA have.

The SBCI and NAMA come under the remit of the Committee of Public Accounts, however.

They do, but this is no more or less-----

I am just making the point.

Yes, but so does this. The same rules that apply to the SBCI and NAMA will apply to this.

Amendment put and declared carried.
Section 20 deleted.
Sections 21 to 25, inclusive, agreed to.
NEW SECTIONS

Amendment No. 8-----

There is a vote in the Dáil.

We will deal with the Bill and then suspend. We are close to the end of it, so if members are agreeable-----

These sections were dealt with.

That is what I am saying. I am sure we can get to the end of the Bill.

Yes. We will get to the end of the Bill.

With the agreement of members, yes, we can.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 19, after line 4, to insert the following:

“PART 7

LOCAL PROPERTY TAX

Definition ( Part 7 )

26. In this Part, “Act of 2012” means the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 19, after line 4, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 24 of Act of 2012

27. Section 24 of the Act of 2012 is amended in subsection (3) by the substitution of “notification, direction, statement, declaration, claim” for “notification”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 19, after line 4, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 64 of Act of 2012

28. Section 64 of the Act of 2012 is amended—

(a) by the insertion of the following definition:

“ ‘Income Tax Regulations’ means the Income Tax (Employments) Regulations 2018 (S.I. No. 345 of 2018);”,

(b) in the definition of “net emoluments”—

(i) by the substitution of “Regulation 31 of the Income Tax Regulations” for “Regulation 41 of the PAYE Regulations”,

(ii) by the substitution of the following paragraph for paragraph (a):

“(a) the Income Tax Regulations, of income tax,”,

and

(iii) by the substitution of “has been made.” for “has been made;”,

and

(c) by the deletion of the definition of “PAYE Regulations”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 19, after line 4, to insert the following:

“Deletion of section 73 of Act of 2012

29. The Act of 2012 is amended by the deletion of section 73.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 19, after line 4, to insert the following:

“Payment of local property tax deducted by employer

30. The Act of 2012 is amended by the substitution of the following section for section 74:

“74. (1) Subject to section 72(1), an employer shall be accountable for the amount of local property tax deductible, and shall be liable to remit that amount to the Revenue Commissioners, as if it were an amount of income tax deductible in accordance with Chapter 4 of Part 42 of the Act of 1997 and the Income Tax Regulations.

(2) An employer shall remit to the Collector-General the amount of local property tax which the employer is directed under section 65 to deduct and the remittance shall be made at the same time and in the same manner as the remittance of income tax which the employer is required to make under section 985G(3)(b) of the Act of 1997.”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 19, after line 4, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 75 of Act of 2012

31. Section 75 of the Act of 2012 is amended by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (1):

“(1) Without prejudice to any action which may be taken under section 76, where an employer who was liable to remit an amount of local property tax in accordance with section 74, which amount was to be determined in accordance with section 72(4), failed to remit this amount and—

(a) did not notify the Revenue Commissioners in accordance with section 72(5)(b), or

(b) notified the Revenue Commissioners in accordance with section 72(5)(b), but remitted a lesser amount than the amount specified in the notification,

the Revenue Commissioners may give notice to the employer of the amount which the employer failed to remit.”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 19, after line 4, to insert the following:

“Notification by employer

32. The Act of 2012 is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 78:

“78A. On or before the making of a payment by an employer of any emoluments to a liable person in respect of whom the employer was given a direction under section 65, the employer shall notify the Revenue Commissioners of—

(a) the name and personal public service number of the liable person,

(b) the date of payment of the emoluments, and

(c) the total amount of local property tax deductible from the emoluments.”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 19, after line 4, to insert the following:

“Declaration by employer

33. The Act of 2012 is amended by the substitution of the following section for section 79:

“79. (1) In this section, ‘filing date’, in relation to a month, means the day that is 15 days from the last day of the month.

(2) An employer shall, on or before the filing date of a month, send to the Revenue Commissioners, in relation to a liable person in respect of whom the employer was given a direction under section 65, a declaration specifying the total local property tax deducted in respect of the month.

(3) Where the Revenue Commissioners issue a statement to an employer which sets out, in summary form in respect of a month, the total amount of local property tax deducted by the employer, the details of the statement shall on the filing date of the month, or, where the statement is issued after the filing date of the month, on the later date, be deemed to be a declaration made by the employer in respect of that month for the purposes of subsection (2).

(4) Subsection (3) shall not apply where a statement referred to in that subsection is issued to an employer and the details on the statement do not accurately reflect the liability of the employer under section 74(1).

(5) Where subsection (4) applies, the employer concerned shall ensure that the liability of the employer under section 74(1) in respect of the month concerned is accurately reflected in the declaration required under subsection (2) in respect of the month concerned.”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:

In page 19, after line 4, to insert the following:

“Deletion of section 80 of Act of 2012

34. The Act of 2012 is amended by the deletion of section 80.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 17:

In page 19, after line 4, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 119 of Act of 2012

35. Section 119 of the Act of 2012 is amended by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (2):

“(2) Local property tax which is deductible by an employer under section 72 shall be payable at the time referred to in section 74(2).”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 18:

In page 19, after line 4, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 133 of Act of 2012

36. Section 133 of the Act of 2012 is amended in subsection (2) by the substitution of “31 December 2018” for “31 December 2017”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 19:

In page 19, after line 4, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 145 of Act of 2012

37. Section 145 of the Act of 2012 is amended—

(a) in paragraph (a) of subsection (1), by the substitution of “a notification under section 78A or a statement,” for “any statement, other than the statement required under section 79,”,

(b) in subsection (2), by the substitution of “declaration” for “statement” in each place where it occurs, and

(c) in subsection (4), by the substitution of “Income Tax (Employments) Regulations 2018 (No. 345 of 2018)” for “PAYE Regulations”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 20:

In page 19, after line 4, to insert the following:

“Commencement ( Part 7 )

38.Sections 27 to 35 and section 37 shall apply from 1 January 2019 in respect of emoluments (within the meaning of Part 10 of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012) paid on or after 1 January 2019.”.

Amendment agreed to.
TITLE

I move amendment No. 21:

In page 5, to delete line 7 and substitute the following:

“residential development in the State; to amend the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 and the Freedom of Information Act 2014; and to provide for related matters.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Title, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.