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Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 14 September 2011

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Questions (130, 131, 132, 133)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

129 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance the contact he has had with mobile phone operators with a view to finding a workable mechanism for implementing a text message levy in view of the fact that a 2 cent levy would gross €240 million per annum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24016/11]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Finance)

I am informed by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) that no projections are made for mobile telephone usage, whether calls or texts. The only basis for estimating the yield from a tax on text messages is the figures for mobile telephone usage per quarter supplied by the companies to ComReg. In the 12 months to end March 2011, the last 12 month period for which figures are available, over 12 billion SMS messages and over 43 million MMS messages were sent in Ireland, a total of over 12.192 billion messages. At those usage rates, a levy of 2 cent on such messages could raise c. €242 million per annum, which is in line with the figure indicated in the Deputy's question. However, this potential yield does not take account of any behavioural impact if a levy was directly imposed on customers or imposed on the mobile phone companies and passed on to customers. Text messages are already subject to VAT at 21%. While any additional revenue would be welcome in the current circumstances, the wider social and economic factors which militate against the introduction of a further levy on text messages must also be taken into account. I am not aware of a similar tax anywhere else in the world. Although there are no plans to introduce such a tax at this time, and I have had no contact with the mobile telephone companies on the matter, all potential taxation measures are kept under review.

Brendan Griffin

Question:

130 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider a tax on considerable winnings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24024/11]

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It was announced in last years Budget that the necessary arrangements are being made to ensure that bets placed on the internet by domestic punters are subject to the same level of betting duty as applies to high street betting shops. This will serve to broaden the tax base and increase betting duty receipts. The Finance Act 2011 provides for the taxation of bets that remote bookmakers enter into with persons in the State. This means, for example, that a business which engages in online bookmaking and which accepts bets from people in this country will be liable for betting duty on those bets, irrespective of where that business is based. The existing betting duty (1%) will be applied to such bets. The Finance Act also provides for the taxation of Betting Exchanges under the new arrangements; however the calculation of the tax will take account of their particular business model. In addition, excise duties are being applied to the granting and renewal of remote bookmakers' and remote betting intermediaries' licences.

The proposed Betting (Amendment) Bill, which is being drafted at present, will establish the regulatory framework for these licences. The tax changes provided for in the Finance Act can only be implemented once the Betting (Amendment) Bill is enacted. This Bill is well advanced and it is hoped that it will be published in the autumn.

I am hopeful that by including the high-growth area of the betting sector the tax base from betting will be boosted significantly.

In addition, this measure conveys a positive signal to international betting operations that have expressed an interest in or have already invested in Ireland. A location with an appropriate licensing regime coupled with relatively low taxes provides real investment and employment opportunities in this sector, which ultimately can potentially be beneficial to all concerned.

There are currently no plans to introduce a tax on winning bets which would represent a fundamental change to the taxation of betting to date.

Brendan Griffin

Question:

131 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider a fees and charges reimbursement facility for recent Irish emigrants returning home to visit from overseas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24025/11]

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I understand that the Deputy is referring to airport passenger charges that apply at Irish airports. Such charges, which are regulated at Dublin Airport by the independent Commission for Aviation Regulation but otherwise set by individual airport authorities on a competitive commercial basis, are normal fees applied by airports the world over for the use of facilities. They are what pay for the development and maintenance of airport infrastructure. I have no plans to consider a rebate system suggested by the Deputy.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

132 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding taxation of social protection payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24034/11]

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The position is that most social welfare allowances, pensions and benefits, including the carer's allowance, awarded by the Department of Social Protection are taxable. The extent of tax due depends on the level of an individual's tax credits.

The following Department of Social Protection payments are taxable:

State Pension (Contributory);

State Pension (Non-Contributory);

State Pension (Transition);

**Illness Benefit;

Invalidity Pension;

**Occupational Injury Benefit;

**Interim Disability Benefit;

*Disablement Benefit;

Death Benefit Pension;

Widow/er's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension;

Widow/er's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Non-Contributory) Pension;

Deserted Wife's Benefit;

Deserted Wife's Allowance;

Prisoner's Wife's Allowance;

One-Parent Family Payment (Unmarried parent, Separated Spouse, Prisoner's Spouse);

Guardian's Payment (Contributory);

Guardian's Payment ( Non-Contributory);

Carer's Allowance;

Carer's Benefit;

+ Jobseeker's Benefit and Short-Term Enterprise Allowance (first €13 per week excluded);

Unemployability Supplement (payable with Disablement Pension);

Blind Pension;

Constant Attendance Allowance (payable with Disablement Pension).

When payable in the form of a pension rather than a once-off payment.

+ Jobseeker's Benefit paid to systematic short-term workers is exempt.

** Illness/Interim/Injury Benefit payable for the first 6 weeks of each year and any child dependent element of benefit is exempt from tax.

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