Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (231, 232)

Paul McGrath

Question:

347 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm that the report of the interdepartmental review group on the issue of primary medical certificates for persons with disabilities has been completed; and when he will publish this report. [2214/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Finance)

I have received the report of the interdepartmental review group on the disabled drivers' and disabled passengers' (tax concessions) scheme and it is under consideration in my Department. On completion of this process, I envisage that the report will be made available publicly.

John Deasy

Question:

348 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Finance his plans to ease the conditions of the disabled drivers and disabled passengers tax concessions; if a review has been carried out on this scheme; if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties caused as a result of the severe restrictions required to obtain a primary medical certificate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2215/04]

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An interdepartmental group was established to review the disabled drivers' and disabled passengers' (tax concessions) scheme. The group examined all aspects of the scheme including the qualifying medical criteria.

I have received the report of the interdepartmental review group on the disabled drivers' and disabled passengers' (tax concessions) scheme and it is currently being considered. Any recommendations contained in this report in relation to the medical criteria and other conditions of the scheme will receive full consideration.

The medical criteria for the purposes of the tax concession under this scheme are set out in the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994. Some six different types of disablement are listed under the regulations and a qualifying person must satisfy one or more of them. The six types of disablement are as follows:

a) persons who are wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

b) persons who are wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

c) persons without both hands or without both arms;

d) persons without one or both legs;

e) persons wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg; and

f) persons having the medical condition of dwarfism and has serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

An individual who qualifies under the medical criteria as set out above is issued with a primary medical certificate. Possession of a primary medical certificate provides for remission or repayment of vehicle registration tax — VRT — plus a repayment of value added tax — VAT — on the purchase of the vehicle, plus a repayment of VAT on the cost of adaptation of that vehicle. Repayment of the excise duty on fuel used in the motor vehicle, and exemption from payment of annual road tax to local authorities are also provided for.

Any consideration of a change to the scheme, will among other factors, have to take account of any cost implications. I have been informed there are up to 360,000 persons in Ireland who could be regarded as disabled to some degree or other. These include both persons with medical conditions other than those covered by the scheme, and those with medical conditions covered by the scheme. The substantial tax benefits of the disabled drivers' and disabled passengers' scheme make for considerable interest in and desire to be admitted to the scheme.

The cost of reliefs excluding annual road tax costs is estimated to be in the region of €34 million in 2002, as compared to €5.1 million in 1994.

Question No. 349 answered with QuestionNo. 295.