Property Taxation Application

Questions (55)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

55. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Finance if consideration has been given to rental income being allowable against the local property tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51081/13]

View answer

Oral answers (1 contributions) (Question to Finance)

The Inter-departmental group, chaired by Dr Don Thornhill, to consider the design of a property tax (the “Thornhill Group”) recommended that the Local Property Tax paid in respect of a rented property should be deductible for income tax or corporation tax purposes, in a similar manner to commercial rates. The Government accepted the recommendation of the Thornhill Group in principle, but has not considered the manner or the timing in which this will happen.

IBRC Loans

Questions (56)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

56. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Finance with reference to the former Irish Bank Resolution Corporation loan book, if the same discounts offered to interests willing to buy the loan book in bulk will be offered to the person who has an individual loan with the former IBRC; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51082/13]

View answer

Oral answers (1 contributions) (Question to Finance)

I have been advised by the Special Liquidators that they have corresponded with all IBRC borrowers, providing them with an opportunity to make written representations on the method of disposal of their loans and the criteria for determining who may bid for loan assets. The Special Liquidators are under instruction to ensure that the valuation of all IBRC assets is completed by 30 November 2013 and that the sale of all IBRC assets is agreed or completed by no later than 31 December 2013 or as soon as practicable thereafter.

The Special Liquidators have engaged specialist advisors who are providing advice as to whether a loan should be sold individually or as part of a portfolio in order to ensure that maximum value is obtained for that asset within the instructed timeframe. The decisions in relation to the disposal of all loans, following receipt of the expert advice, have been made by the Special Liquidators. Borrowers will be kept fully up to date on the sale of their IBRC loans and collateral obligations. The Special Liquidators do not intend on disclosing the discounts being applied to IBRC assets and/or the valuation of IBRC assets as it is commercially sensitive information which could potentially have a detrimental impact on asset recovery from the impending sales process.

Property Taxation Collection

Questions (57)

Robert Troy

Question:

57. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance if he will ensure that persons who opted to pay their property tax by visa debit are not penalised and forced to pay 2015 tax in 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51100/13]

View answer

Oral answers (1 contributions) (Question to Finance)

In accordance with the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended), Local Property Tax (LPT) for is payable on or before 1 January of that year. For the year 2015, the tax will be payable on or before 1 January 2015. The range of payment options provided by the Revenue Commissioners ensures that nobody is forced to pay LPT before that date. The Revenue Commissioners are facilitating those who wish to exercise a personal choice to pay by debit card. However the consequences are clearly spelled out and there are other easier and arguably more advantageous options to pay the LPT.

The administration of the LPT, including payment of LPT for 2015 by debit card, is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. I understand that the Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners dealt with this issue comprehensively when she attended a meeting of the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform on 7 November 2013. The Chairman informed the Committee that in order to provide for a delayed payment of LPT by way of credit/debit card, Revenue would be required to retain taxpayer’s credit/debit card data. The Commissioners are concerned about retaining such data from a data protection perspective and other issues, including costs, also arise. Recent well publicised data breaches arising from the retention of such data underline those concerns. The Chairman agreed that the Commissioners would review the payment patterns for 2014 to establish the proportion of owners who choose to pay the tax by credit/debit card and they would also carefully review the issue of retaining debit/credit card data and its potential impact on systems, costs, security and data protection.

Student Grant Scheme Appeals

Questions (58)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

58. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a decision can be expected on a student grant appeal (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50869/13]

View answer

Oral answers (1 contributions) (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that, in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy, her appeal is under consideration by SUSI and the applicant will be advised directly of the outcome. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by SUSI, and remains of the view that SUSI has not interpreted the scheme correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the Student Grants Appeals Board. The relevant appeal form is available to download from http://www.studentfinance.ie/downloads/1375344221/2013_SGAB_appeal_form.pdf.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (59)

Arthur Spring

Question:

59. Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a student who previously enrolled in third level education, received a student grant and did not complete the first year due to exceptional circumstances is entitled to a student grant for year one when commencing a different third level course five years later. [50872/13]

View answer

Oral answers (1 contributions) (Question to Education)

The decision on eligibility for a student is a matter in the first instance for the awarding authority. The Deputy will appreciate that in the absence of all of the relevant details that would be contained in an individual's application in relation to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means, it would not be possible for me to say whether or not a student would qualify for a grant.

Article 13(6), is the relevant governing article in the 2013 student grant scheme in relation to second chance students. The intention of this article is to focus resources on second chance and mature students. The five years' break in studies will ensure that the emphasis is, as intended, on facilitating these students to return to education. Article 15(8) of the Student Grant Scheme 2013 provides awarding authorities with discretion to waive the provisions of Article 15(7)(b)(ii) in exceptional circumstances and consider funding for a repeat period of study, in line with guidelines drawn up by the Minister. The guidelines include the nature of the exceptional circumstances as documented by the applicant, when they occurred and the period of time over which they continued, how the circumstances impacted on the applicant's ability to participate in their course of study, take exams or submit projects on time and whether the circumstances happened to the applicant or a third party.

Where an individual applicant considers that he has been unjustly refused a student grant, or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, he may appeal, in the first instance, to the awarding authority. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by the awarding authority, and remains of the view that the awarding authority has not interpreted the scheme correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the Student Grants Appeals Board. The relevant appeal form is available to download from http://www.studentfinance.ie/downloads/1375344221/2013_SGAB_appeal_form.pdf.

School Transport Scheme

Questions (60)

Charles Flanagan

Question:

60. Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to allegations of corruption at Bus Éireann in the matter of the €166 million school transport scheme with particular reference to the awarding of contracts to bus and taxi operators; and the steps he will take to have the matter fully examined and investigated. [50888/13]

View answer

Oral answers (1 contributions) (Question to Education)

I am aware of a number of allegations made of wrongdoing by individual employees of Bus Éireann involved in the school transport scheme and have responded to a number of Parliamentary Questions regarding these. Any allegation of wrongdoing by an employee/employees of Bus Éireann is treated as a very serious issue by both Bus Éireann and my Department. It is usual and appropriate that an allegation against any employee is investigated by the employer in question under its internal control procedures. My Department is satisfied that allegations receive attention at the highest level in Bus Éireann. The Company has advised my Department that one investigation is currently ongoing and is expected to conclude in the coming weeks.

School Transport Scheme

Questions (61)

John O'Mahony

Question:

61. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the EU Commission made a mistake when it wrote on OJEU on 15.9.2007 as part of State Aid Ireland Investigation 31/07 that Bus Éireann operated the school transport services on a cost recovery basis when the value for money review March 2011 did not say that it was on a cost recovery basis and this expression has been removed from the annual report of Bus Éireann and in view of the fact that the Irish authorities have no independent impartial monitoring of actual costs incurred by Bus Éireann or its profits, if any, relating to the school transport scheme since 1975; if he will make a material statement on the implications for his Department and separately for Bus Éireann if it made a profit since 1975; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50910/13]

View answer

Oral answers (1 contributions) (Question to Education)

I would like to preface this reply by noting that it is not for the Minister for Education and Skills to speak on behalf of the EU Commission. That said, the agreed document of 1975 provides the basis for payment to Bus Éireann in respect of the arrangements between my Department and Bus Éireann under which the school transport scheme operates. To describe the details contained in this document as providing for payment on a cost recovery basis is a fair and reasonable depiction of the position.

The arrangements between my Department and Bus Éireann as they relate to school transport were the subject of extensive consideration by the High Court in the context of the recent proceedings. The outcome of these proceedings, which found decisively in favour of the Department's position, is available on the Courts Service Website. These proceedings provided full opportunity for all parties to advance the arguments and counter arguments in relation to all aspects of these arrangements including matters such as "cost recovery" and "profit". Any issues or implications in relation to these matters will be fully dealt with by the Department in the context of the Supreme Court Appeal. I refer the Deputy to my earlier reply of 6th November, in which I set out the wider context to the conduct of this case.