Question No. 63 answered with Question No. 51.

Northern Ireland Issues

Questions (64)

Niall Collins

Question:

64. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his response to the HM Inspector of Constabulary's criticism of the Northern Ireland Historical Enquiries Team and its failure to thoroughly investigate certain categories of crime; if he has made representations to the Northern Ireland Office on the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35911/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The tragedies of the past in Northern Ireland have left a deep and profoundly regrettable legacy of suffering. Dealing with the past presents a major challenge for we must never forget those who have died or been injured, and their families. In the context of the “Together: Building a United Community” initiative by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Northern Ireland Assembly will shortly establish an All Party Working Group under an Independent Chair to consider and make recommendations on issues that cause community divisions, including Dealing with the Past. The HET has an important role to play in ensuring that the families of all of the victims of violence in the past can pursue the truth of what happened to their loved ones, and it plays a significant part in the pursuit of justice. I am aware of the comprehensive Inspection Report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary into the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team. I believe it is essential that the HET operate to the highest standards of effectiveness and impartiality, so that the people of Northern Ireland – and in particular, the families of the victims whose cases are being reviewed – can have confidence in it. Consequently I welcome Chief Constable Baggott’s acceptance of the Inspection Report’s Recommendations and his commitment to work with the Policing Board on ensuring their delivery.

I am in regular close contact with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on issues of importance for Northern Ireland.

Property Taxation Administration

Questions (65)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

65. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance the way a person who inadvertently over valued their house for the local property tax may effect a change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35714/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended) sets out how a residential property is to be valued for Local Property Tax (LPT) purposes. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, as LPT is a self-assessed tax, it is a matter for the property owner to calculate the tax due based on his or her assessment of the market value of the property. For the purposes of LPT, values for properties under €1 million are organised into valuation bands, with a range of €50,000 in each band. As property owners were not required to provide a precise value for their property as at 1 May 2103, it is anticipated that, for the most part, overpayments of LPT should not happen.

Revenue is most concerned that people meet their obligations voluntarily and pay the correct amount of tax. However, if someone has genuinely overpaid their LPT, Section 26 of the 2012 Act (as amended) provides that a claim for a refund of the tax overpaid may be made to Revenue, where the overpayment was made due to an error or mistake made by the liable person, subject to certain conditions being satisfied. In this regard, I am advised that Revenue will issue detailed guidelines later in the year setting out the procedures to be followed by those who consider that they have either over or under valued their property for LPT purposes, or inadvertently paid on foot of the Revenue estimate without making their own assessment. However, in the meantime, if a person has such concerns regarding their LPT, they can write to LPT Branch, Government Buildings, Kilrush Road, Ennis, Co. Clare setting out their case and the matter will be considered.

I am advised by Revenue that any valuation amendments to Local Property Tax Returns must be in writing and must be supported by the appropriate evidence to explain or prove the need to decrease the value. Evidence could be in the form of recent sales or advertised house prices in the area, professional valuations or house price surveys for the area.

Credit Unions Issues

Questions (66)

Ciara Conway

Question:

66. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the losses incurred by a credit union (details supplied) in County Waterford as a result of the liquidation of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation; if he will advise as to what route this institution should pursue; if he is aware of other institutions in similar circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35643/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by the Central Bank of Ireland that certain tracker bonds sold to a number of credit unions which were liabilities of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) at the time of the liquidation have a structured deposit element which is covered by the Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS) for that element of the product. As a result the first €100,000 of any claim in such cases is covered under the DGS. The bond itself is not covered by the ELG scheme as it predates that scheme. Credit unions and others affected have been advised to deal with the Special Liquidator in relation to this matter. I am aware that officials from the Department, as well as the Special Liquidator, have met with credit union representative bodies on this matter and the credit unions affected have been advised to deal with the Special Liquidator.

Money Laundering

Questions (67)

Ciara Conway

Question:

67. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Finance if he has given consideration to changing the proposed requirements around anti-money laundering identification for the purchase of prize bonds; if he will consider increasing the new limits to a limit of €100, rather than the current proposed figure of €25, for those who wish to purchase prize bonds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35645/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

European legislation has been adopted to protect the financial system and certain professions and activities from being misused for money laundering and financing of terrorism purposes. The anti-money-laundering obligations applicable in Ireland derive from the Third EU Money-Laundering Directive. The Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 was enacted in July 2010 to transpose the Third Money Laundering Directive (2005/60/EC) and its Implementing Directive (2006/70/EC) into Irish Law. Part 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 2010 sets out the obligations of “designated persons” in relation to customer identification. One such obligation set out in the Act is the obligation to conduct customer due diligence, prior to the establishment of a business relationship. Customer due diligence refers to the identification of customers and that of any beneficial owners of financial products associated with the customer.

An Post and the Prize Bond Company are deemed to be a “designated person” under the Criminal Justice Act 2010 as they fall within the definition of a “financial institution ”. In light of this, An Post and the Prize Bond Company are required to comply with the relevant provisions of the Act in relation to the sale of Prize Bonds to customers. This means, in practical terms, that customer due diligence must be conducted on all purchases of prize bonds, irrespective of value.

The extent to which any particular person or product may be exempted from the customer due diligence requirements of the Act is determined by reference to the Act having regard to the underlying Directives. The Central Bank of Ireland has no discretion to exempt certain firms from the requirement to comply with the Act. In light of the above, I am exploring with the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and my colleague the Minister for Justice whether or not exemptions available under the Directives may be applied to small value purchases of prize bonds facilitated on behalf of the State by An Post and the Prize Bond Company.

Tax Compliance

Questions (68)

Robert Dowds

Question:

68. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Finance if, in cases where some old age pensioners have inadvertently underpaid tax due to a failure of communication between the Department of Social Protection and the Revenue Commissioners, the normal interest and penalties which arise in such circumstances are payable. [35648/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Deputy will be aware that the Revenue Commissioners received information from the Department of Social Protection (DSP) in late 2011 in respect of individuals in receipt of pensions payments made by the DSP. Upon examining this information, it became clear that a large number of these pension recipients had not reported their pension income to the Revenue Commissioners even though they were advised to do so by DSP in the awards letter that the Department issues to all first-time pension recipients. The priority for the Commissioners, in the first instance, was to ensure that the tax record was correct for 2012 onwards and thereafter to examine in detail the highest risk cases. In the follow up projects, it was necessary to distinguish between those taxpayers who pay their tax through the PAYE system and who, as a matter of course, do not, and are not required to submit an annual tax return and self-assessed tax payers who complete an annual return of income where they are specifically invited to include payments from the DSP.

In relation to PAYE taxpayer, Revenue wrote to three separate tranches of PAYE taxpayers who had not returned details of their DSP pensions, that is, those with annual non-DSP income exceeding €50,000, those with non-DSP incomes of between €40,000 and €50,000 and those with non-DSP incomes of €30,000 to €40,000. In their correspondence, I am informed, Revenue gave the taxpayers the opportunity to complete a disclosure statement and pay the outstanding tax due within thirty days of the final liability being calculated without incurring interest or penalties. I am further informed that the vast majority of pension recipients contacted have met the necessary conditions, have settled their affairs and avoided having to pay any interest or penalties. This project is nearing conclusion.

The Commissioners also advise that a separate project commenced earlier this year to examine those cases in the self-assessment system who had not returned details of their DSP pension on their annual return. This category would include self-employed taxpayers, company directors, persons with reasonable amount of non-PAYE income etc. Revenue has pre-populated the tax returns of these taxpayers from tax year 2011 onwards with details of their DSP payments to ensure that they are tax compliant in relation to these payments in the future. In addition, they have written to the highest risk cases, providing them with an opportunity to advise Revenue of outstanding taxes on these payments in relevant prior years.

The charging of interest and penalties on tax settlements in relation to these taxpayers is governed by the “Code of Practice for Revenue Audit”, which can be viewed on the Revenue website at www.revenue.ie. For this project, the Commissioners decided that the lowest category of penalty – i.e. for an unprompted voluntary disclosure – would be appropriate for those cases who responded in a timely manner.

The Commissioners also advise that since early 2012 they receive a weekly file of data from the DSP with details of new, amended and ceased DSP pension payments which they update to the relevant pension recipient’s tax record. However, it is important to point out that the onus remains on any individual who receives a new source of income to report it to Revenue or to include it in their annual tax return, as appropriate.

Lastly, the Commissioners advise that if the Deputy has a query in relation to a particular taxpayer, he can contact the Revenue Commissioners with any such details.

Excise Duties Yield

Questions (69)

Damien English

Question:

69. Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a breakdown of excise returns by category and month from January 2011 to June 2013, inclusive, in tabular form. [35654/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the breakdown in excise returns by category and by month from January 2011 to June 2013 is as follows:

2011

Alcohol

Tobacco

Oils

Carbon

VRT

Other Excise

JAN

87.8

0.6

234.7

14.5

41.5

12.1

FEB

35.9

26.8

176.7

44.7

57.7

9.0

MAR

51.2

64.7

183.0

23.3

49.1

8.2

APR

67.9

96.1

180.2

32.2

45.9

9.5

MAY

67.5

65.4

177.5

19.4

33.5

5.5

JUN

65.6

102.9

177.9

26.9

36.1

4.8

JUL

70.8

113.7

174.3

22.1

31.4

12.5

AUG

72.0

109.7

185.6

20.5

19.5

6.1

SEP

70.2

78.3

174.0

22.2

36.4

9.0

OCT

64.7

90.0

174.7

22.9

14.6

10.8

NOV

75.3

110.7

181.3

24.3

12.2

7.8

DEC

100.8

267.2

109.9

25.3

10.4

4.6

TOTAL

829.5

1126.1

2129.6

298.2

388.4

100.0

2012

Alcohol

Tobacco

Oils

Carbon

VRT

Other Excise

JAN

87.8

1.0

223.8

16.8

47.7

8.5

FEB

35.6

52.8

166.7

41.3

62.9

4.1

MAR

50.6

55.8

176.7

24.5

56.1

4.0

APR

64.7

70.8

166.8

34.2

44.5

9.0

MAY

61.4

108.0

180.9

26.0

33.6

4.8

JUN

73.3

121.8

168.6

33.3

33.6

4.0

JUL

68.4

80.2

167.7

27.9

25.8

10.7

AUG

64.7

92.4

175.9

26.7

21.1

5.6

SEP

68.7

68.3

165.3

26.4

17.2

5.8

OCT

65.9

99.8

175.1

29.7

14.5

14.6

NOV

85.0

97.5

171.9

33.6

11.2

5.4

DEC

120.0

224.0

87.9

33.6

11.2

4.0

TOTAL

846.1

1072.3

2027.3

354.0

379.4

80.5

2013

Alcohol

Tobacco

Oils

Carbon

VRT

Other Excise

JAN

93.5

1.1

231.4

26.0

52.1

8.3

FEB

40.6

104.8

158.9

42.7

64.6

3.0

MAR

52.2

52.5

173.2

33.6

55.1

3.9

APR

77.2

72.0

170.5

37.6

47.5

9.8

MAY

65.8

93.6

175.2

29.4

40.0

3.7

JUN

86.9

93.1

161.0

39.2

27.0

4.4

TOTAL

416.2

417.1

1070.2

208.5

286.3

33.1

The Category Other Excise includes Licences, Betting and Travel Tax.

Please note that the receipts shown for 2013 are provisional and are subject to revision.

Tobacco Seizures

Questions (70)

Damien English

Question:

70. Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an update on the number of tobacco seizures in each month since January 2011; the amount of cigarettes and tobacco seized in each month since January 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35655/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that combating the illegal tobacco trade is, and will continue to be, a very high priority for them. The Commissioners’ “Strategy on Combating the Illicit Tobacco Trade (2011-2013)”, which is published on the Revenue website (www.revenue.ie), includes a wide range of measures designed to target those engaged in the supply and sale of illicit tobacco products and very significant resources are being devoted to this issue in 2013. This multi-faceted strategy includes:

- the ongoing analysis of the nature and extent of the problem

- developing and sharing intelligence on a national, EU and international basis

- the ongoing review of operational policies by a high-level group within Revenue that is chaired by one of the Commissioners

- the development of analytics and detection technologies and

- the optimum deployment of resources at both point of importation and within the country to intercept and seize contraband products and to prosecute those involved.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the monthly seizures of cigarettes and tobacco in 2011 and 2012, and this year to 14th July are as detailed in the following tables.

2011

Month

Cigarette Seizures

Number of Cigarettes Seized

Tobacco Seizures

Quantity Seized (Kilograms)

January

789

10,939,140

111

472

February

822

8,091,205

134

133

March

1,155

10,794,099

132

210

April

777

5,435,572

73

121

May

1,133

7,848,277

128

321

June

831

20,834,846

133

205

July

752

11,029, 341

109

2,724

August

934

3,087,755

172

2,497

September

997

14,093,544

165

2,840

October

847

2,674,637

118

714

November

867

2,380,390

95

283

December

684

11,882,143

131

638

2012

Month

Cigarette Seizures

Number of Cigarettes Seized

Tobacco Seizures

Quantity Seized (Kilograms)

January

654

1,625,944

116

621

February

731

2,139,561

93

336

March

723

1,870,649

105

306

April

652

43,068,330

95

137

May

819

7,601,016

115

773

June

696

2,110,869

126

272

July

676

8,379,138

160

263

August

618

1,315,452

103

273

September

738

13,274,574

141

360

October

663

9,612,366

117

281

November

724

2,621,542

127

1,392

December

417

1,986,889

97

262

2013

Month

Cigarette Seizures

Number of Cigarettes Seized

Tobacco Seizures

Quantity Seized (Kilograms)

January

507

1,496,741

94

325

February

494

1,255,479

125

536

March

551

1,946,456

98

248

April

457

990,767

94

104

May

548

4,327,337

114

1,058

June

433

1,260,769

79

614

July (1st-14th inclusive)

161

10,856,480

25

51

Regulatory Impact Assessment Submissions

Questions (71)

Damien English

Question:

71. Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Finance if he will be making a submission to the Department of Health's regulatory impact analysis on proposed legislation on plain packaging of tobacco products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35657/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners, who have responsibility for the collection of tobacco products tax, that Revenue will be represented on the Standardised/Plain Packaging High Level Implementation Group, which has been established by the Department of Health to oversee the introduction of plain packaging for tobacco products. Revenue will have the opportunity in this Group to set out its requirements in relation to accommodating the tobacco tax stamp under the new packaging regulations and to raise any other matters that might impact on their ability to deal with the illicit tobacco market. Revenue’s view is that the introduction of plain or standardised packaging of itself is unlikely to affect significantly their work against the illicit trade in tobacco products.

Budget 2014 Issues

Questions (72)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

72. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider the introduction of a wealth tax in budget 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35672/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Budget 2014 will be announced in October of this year, some two months earlier than in previous years. While all taxes and potential taxation options are constantly reviewed, it is a long-standing practice of the Minister for Finance not to comment specifically, in advance of the Budget, on any tax matters that might be the subject of Budget decisions.

A number of considerations would need to be taken into account, as regards the potential for imposition of a wealth tax, in the sense of an annual recurring tax on wealth. Firstly, to estimate the potential revenue from a wealth tax, one would need to identify the wealth held by individuals, which is not possible from the data available at present.

I am informed by the Central Statistics Office that the CSO institutional sector accounts do not give an indication of the number of households or persons classified by the categories of wealth they hold. These statistics are based on aggregate information collected from financial institutions and do not contain the demographic details which would enable such a breakdown of the statistics. So while the CSO’s Institutional Sector Accounts show that households held c. €126 billion on deposit in 2010, this is not broken down by income or wealth categories.

However, I understand that, following discussions between the Department of Public Enterprise and Reform, the CSO and the Central Bank, the CSO has commenced a “Household Finance and Consumption Survey”, which will collect information on household wealth. The first results of this survey will be available in 2014. The data to be collected by the CSO as part of its Household Finance and Consumption Survey is not being collected for the purposes of calculating the potential yield from a wealth tax but to collect general information on the financial situation and behaviour of households.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they have no statistical basis for compiling estimates in relation to a potential wealth tax. Although an individual’s assets and liabilities are declared in a limited number of specific circumstances - for example, after a death - Revenue states it is not in a position to link an individual’s income to her/his financial assets.

Secondly, asset values increase and decrease over time and in the context of recent economic circumstances, they may have declined considerably in many cases. Thus, if the value of an asset or of an individual’s wealth is measured at a particular time there is no guarantee that the asset value or the individual’s wealth will remain at that level or increase from that point. This would make it difficult to predict the potential yield from a wealth tax and would have to be borne in mind in terms of its consistency as a source of revenue.

Finally, Capital Gains Tax (CGT) and Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) are, in effect, taxes on wealth, in that they are levied on an individual or company on the disposal of an asset (CGT) or the acquisition of an asset through gift or inheritance (CAT). However, they are not annual taxes on an individual’s wealth. The rate of both these taxes is currently 33%, which I increased from 30% in Budget 2013. I also reduced the CAT group tax-free threshold for gifts and inheritances by 10%, following a number of reductions in recent years. The introduction of a wealth tax could have a negative impact on receipts from CGT and CAT.

In the context of taxes on wealth I will also refer to the introduction in Budget 2010 of the Domicile Levy. The levy is currently charged on an individual who is Irish-domiciled whose world-wide income exceeds €1m, whose Irish-located property is worth more than €5m, and whose liability to Irish income tax was less than €200,000. The levy applies for the tax year 2010 and subsequent years. It is payable on a self-assessment basis on or before 31 October in the year following the valuation date, which is 31 December of each year. A total of 11 taxpayers paid the levy in 2011 (for the 2010 tax year) with a total yield of €1.67 m, and a total of 10 persons paid the Levy in 2012 for tax year 2011 and these persons paid a total of €1.64 m. In Budget 2012 I expanded the application of the Domicile Levy by removing the citizenship condition. This will affect returns for 2012, which are due to be made in October 2013.