Tax Code

Questions (83)

Michael McGrath

Question:

83. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the steps he has taken since coming into office to introduce a tax on online betting; if it is his policy to introduce such a tax; the potential full year yield from such a tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30000/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

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 other words a 15% tax on the commission charged. In addition, excise duties are being applied to the granting and renewal of remote bookmakers’ and remote betting intermediaries’ licences.

The Betting (Amendment) Bill, which will establish the regulatory framework for the licensing regime, was published in July last year. Since that date work has been continuing by officials of my Department and Revenue on the drawing up of a number of amendments to the Bill to strengthen enforcement measures. It is my intention, given the number of amendments, to go back to Government in the very near future for approval to republish the Bill.

The Deputy will be aware that under the EU Technical Standards and Regulations Directive it will be necessary to show the published Bill to the EU Commission and other Member States, which could take 3 months for clearance. However, I hope to use this time to progress the Bill through the Dáil subject to scheduling agreement between the Whips.

The tax changes provided for in the Finance Act can only be implemented once the Betting (Amendment) Bill is enacted. While it is difficult to predict, the anticipated yield from online betting duty is estimated to be €20 million in a full year.

Tax Avoidance Issues

Questions (84)

Michael McGrath

Question:

84. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of specific tax avoidance case teams currently operating in Revenue; if he will specify the areas of tax avoidance in which Revenue is currently focusing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30001/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that a dedicated anti-avoidance team exists in the Large Cases Division of their office. Each of the Regions in the Revenue organisation and Revenue’s Investigations and Prosecutions Division also has an anti-avoidance representative that liaises with the anti-avoidance team in the Large Cases Division by means of a national anti-avoidance network. The Regional representatives are responsible for ongoing Regional anti-avoidance activities and, in particular, for the identification of new avoidance cases as they emerge.

Currently, the areas of the various tax codes that are being investigated from a tax avoidance point of view by Revenue’s Large Cases Division and the national anti-avoidance network include:

- The creation of losses for use in reducing liability on both capital gains and income.

- The inappropriate use of certain tax reliefs (e.g. interest relief claims and certain gift tax relief claims).

- The conversion of income to capital for tax purposes.

- Attempts to extract monies from companies without liability to tax or with reduced liability to tax.

- Attempts to lower the VAT liability applicable to property transactions.

I am further informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the Special Projects Branch of Revenue’s Investigations and Prosecutions Division is also currently engaged in the examination of tax avoidance schemes. A number of schemes have been identified that use share rights value transfers in the extraction of cash from close companies. The Special Projects Branch also monitors other potential tax avoidance activities such as transactions involving property in the State using offshore registered companies and the transfers of assets abroad.

Tax Collection

Questions (85)

Michael McGrath

Question:

85. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details across the different taxation headings of the amount of taxation that Revenue has written off in 2012 and to date in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30002/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that a total of € 287m was written off as uncollectible in 2012, which was a decrease of €34m (11%) over 2011. A total of €107m was written off as uncollectible for the period 1 January to 31 March 2013. Revenue has not yet finalised the figures for April and May. The following table sets out the amounts written out for the periods requested on a taxhead basis. Over 70% of the tax written off last year was in the context of court processes such as liquidations and examinerships or due to business failure.

Taxes Written Out 2012 -2013

-

-

-

2012

Jan - Mar 2013

TAX

Amounts (m)

Amounts (m)

Income Tax

32.20

8.48

Corporation Tax

4.80

8.89

Capital Gains Tax

16.34

4.00

Value Added Tax

130.54

45.62

PAYE

39.13

18.72

PRSI

49.78

17.10

Relevant Contracts Tax

14.15

4.43

TOTAL

286.94

107.24

VAT Rates Application

Questions (86)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

86. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 83 of 21 February 2013, if he will set out the impediments, if any, preventing him from maximising VAT revenue from the sale of alcohol by taking measures to alter VAT rules that would ensure that the VAT collected on the sale of alcohol products matches the value of VAT ultimately returned to the Exchequer. [30003/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As stated in the reply to the earlier Parliamentary Question, under EU and domestic VAT rules, traders who are registered for VAT collect VAT on the goods and services that they sell. In turn such traders are entitled to recover the VAT they incur on the business inputs used in the purchase or production of goods or delivery of services.

I assume that the Deputy is suggesting some restriction on the recovery of VAT on inputs in the case of alcohol products sold at a price below their purchase price. Such a restriction would run counter to the EU-wide common system of VAT established on the principle that VAT is a general tax on consumption, exactly proportional to the price of the goods and services, however many transactions take place in the production and distribution process before the stage at which the tax is charged. This principle is set out in Article 1 of the EU VAT Directive (Council Directive 2006/112/EC). Article 168 of the VAT Directive states that in so far as goods and services are used for the purposes of taxed transactions of a taxable person, the taxable person shall be entitled to deduct the VAT due or paid in respect of supplies to him of goods or services. This right to deduct input VAT has been confirmed by the European Court of Justice in many cases brought before it.

School Accommodation

Questions (87)

Simon Harris

Question:

87. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if funding will be provided to a school (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29758/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The school referred to by the Deputy was allocated over 500m² of accommodation for special needs pupils as part of a new building that contains 8550m² of accommodation in total. Funding of €6,500 for a dedicated special class was provided in addition to €7,000 to purchase equipment for the schools multi sensory room. This level of funding accords with the Department's current guidelines on funding special needs units and is provided to all primary and post-primary schools irrespective of the delivery methodology used. In addition, grant aid may also be made available to schools to fund the purchase of special items of furniture for special needs pupils. This scheme applies to all children who are diagnosed as having special needs. Schools must apply directly to the Department with applications required to be supported with a report prepared by a professional who has assessed the individual special pupil's needs. Only furniture approved by the Department in such cases will be funded. Therefore the specific needs of each individual special needs pupil are required to be identified and supported by a statement to be submitted by the pupil's professional advisor with supporting information and details. This has not happened to date in this instance. On receipt of such information the matter will be explored further and a decision issued.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (88)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

88. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the educational supports available to children with Down's syndrome in mainstream education; the way such supports are expected to improve in the near future in order to afford equal educational opportunity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29761/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware of this Government's ongoing commitment to ensuring that all children with special educational needs, including children with Down syndrome, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs. The policy of my Department is to secure the maximum possible level of inclusion of students with special educational needs in mainstream primary and post-primary schools, or where a special school or special class placement may be required to ensure such placements are provided for.Pupils with Down syndrome attending mainstream schools may receive additional teaching support in primary schools, either under the terms of the General Allocation Model (GAM) of teaching supports, if the pupil's educational psychological assessment places the pupil in the mild general learning disability/high incidence disability category, or through an allocation of individual additional resource teaching hours which are allocated by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), if the child is assessed as being within the low incidence category of special need, as defined by my Department's Circular Sp Ed 02/05.Pupils with Down syndrome may be allocated resources under the category of mild general learning disability, or under the categories of moderate general learning difficulty or Assessed Syndrome, in conjunction with another Low Incidence disability. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has a formal role under the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act, 2004 in advising me in relation to any matter relating to the education of children and others with disabilities. My Department requested that the NCSE consider the issue of whether Down syndrome should be reclassified as a low incidence disability in all instances, regardless of assessed cognitive ability, in the context of its preparation of comprehensive advice on how the educational system supports children with special educational needs in schools. The NCSE report on Supporting Children with Special Educational Needs in Schools has now been published and is available on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie. The report recommends that under the new resource allocation model proposed by the NCSE in its report, children should be allocated additional resources in line with their level of need, rather than by disability category. The NCSE has recommended that in the short-term, pupils with Down syndrome pupils who are in the Mild General Learning Difficulty (Mild GLD) category should continue to be supported by schools' Learning Support allocation in the same way as other pupils with a Mild GLD. It has not been recommended that an exception should be made for children with Down syndrome who are in the mild general learning difficulty range, over other children who are in the mild range and who also may have other co-morbid conditions.However, the NCSE report states that it is confident that the introduction of a new allocation model will overcome the difficulty posed by all children with mild general learning disabilities, including children with Down syndrome, who have additional difficulties and who can be supported according to their level of need and in line with their learning plan process. In the meantime, schools are reminded that they can differentiate the level of learning support granted to ensure that available resources are used to support children in line with their needs. I have requested the NCSE to immediately proceed to establish a Working Group in order to develop a proposal for consideration for a new Tailored Allocation Model, which is set out as one of the principal recommendations of the report.

Literacy Levels

Questions (89)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

89. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his proposals to prioritise adult literacy in the context of reform of further education and training; his plans to include adult literacy and numeracy in the Further Education and Training (SOLAS) Bill 2013 in order to facilitate a national strategy in this regard in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29766/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I recognise that further education and training as it is currently delivered covers a broad spectrum that ranges from basic adult literacy and numeracy courses to courses that are certified at level 6 and above on the National Framework of Qualifications. Section 9 of the Further Education and Training Bill 2013 provides that SOLAS, once established, will prepare and submit, to the Minister, a strategy in respect of further education and training. The issue of including a provision in the Bill for the development of a national adult literacy and numeracy strategy was raised at Dáil Committee Stage. The Bill was amended at Dáil Report Stage to include a provision for the development of a literacy and numeracy strategy.

Emergency Works Scheme Application Numbers

Questions (90)

Joe Carey

Question:

90. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide in tabular form all works sanctioned by his Department both electrical and mechanical related to both national and secondary schools in County Clare in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29772/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Applications for funding for mechanical and electrical works in schools are normally dealt with under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme. Information in relation to all projects approved, including the Emergency Works Scheme, is available on my Department's website. The Deputy should note that major projects could also include a substantial mechanical and electrical element.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (91)

Clare Daly

Question:

91. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 297 of 11 June 2013 and the July provision scheme, the criteria by which parents can support an application for extenuating circumstances, in order to receive individual tuition, with particular reference to the fact that parents had been told that a letter from the school explaining the way this joint tuition was not suitable, would be acceptable and subsequent to that were told that they had to get a letter from a psychologist which is impractical within the time frame of the allocation and the appeal mechanism in view of the waiting lists for psychologists. [29837/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the education provision for each child with autism is unique, in recognition of their different needs, my Department recognises that may be differing circumstances which will need to be taken into account in granting an appeal in respect of July Provision applications.While a professional report from a psychologist would be of assistance in considering applications for separate provision my Department recognises the impracticality of this for many parents in view of time constraints and consequently has indicated that in the absence of such a report a letter from the school detailing the existing arrangements currently in place for siblings explaining why they cannot be tutored together in the home will be acceptable.You will be aware that the age or ability of siblings is reflected in their education level as determined by education and health professionals. In general where a child is receiving their education in a class setting with other children of mixed age and ability, this should carry through to their July Provision.

School Curriculum

Questions (92)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

92. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reconsider maintaining history as a core subject at junior certificate level (details supplied). [29842/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In line with the philosophy of the Framework for Junior Cycle, no subject or short course will be deemed compulsory apart from Irish, English and Mathematics. Schools will be given flexibility to shape their own junior cycle programme by including a selection of subjects, short courses and other learning experiences that will allow their students to meet the requirements of the twenty-four statements of learning outlined in the Framework. Under the current system only 52% of schools - the voluntary secondary schools - are obliged to provide History as core. Yet 90% of students present for History in the Junior Certificate. History will become a discrete subject under the Framework. New specifications for History will be developed in for implementation in schools from September 2017 . In the event that a student does not study History as a discrete subject, there will be a requirement of schools to ensure that students meet the statements of learning, including "values local, national and international heritage, understands the importance of the relationship between past and current events and the forces that drive change". Individual schools will have the flexibility to decide how they may do this. For example, a school or group of schools in a town, may opt to develop a short course in History to reflect a particular historical event relevant to their area. I met with the representatives of the History Teachers' Association of Ireland in early 2012 and the discussion at that meeting helped to inform the final Framework document. I have every confidence that the changes envisaged in Framework for Junior Cycle will ensure that the place of historical study will be retained and given a new impetus across the junior cycle curriculum. Such an impetus should help to improve take up of History at senior cycle also.