Carbon Tax Implementation

Questions (154)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

154. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Finance if the second phase of the carbon tax increase will be introduced in May 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14787/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Carbon Tax was introduced in Budget 2010 but its application to solid fuels was subject to a Ministerial commencement order.  This approach was primarily adopted to delay the application of the carbon tax to solid fuel in the residential sector to allow for the development of a robust mechanism to counter the large scale sourcing of coal from Northern Ireland where lower sulphur standards apply.  Such a mechanism is in place since June 2011. The application of the carbon tax to solid fuels was further postponed in 2012 given the overall tax increases in Budget 2012 including in the standard rate of VAT.  

The introduction of Carbon Tax was about sending a price signal that there is a cost associated with the consumption of fossil fuels to the detriment of the environment.  It should also be noted that solid fuels have the highest carbon content of all fossil fuels. As a result they are considered the dirtiest fuels and given the environmental impact it is important that they are taxed. As I was aware of the potential impact on lower income households, I chose not to introduce the carbon tax on solid fuels until after the 2012/2103 winter period and I opted to introduce the tax in two phases i.e. €10 per tonne of CO2 from 1st May 2013 and a further €10 per tonne of CO2 from 1st May 2014 thus bringing the carbon tax on solid fuels in line with that on all other fossil fuels i.e. at €20 per tonne of CO2.  

While tax increases are unpopular, where Member States are under fiscal pressure, it makes sense to increase taxes in areas where some benefits can arise, in this instance a carbon tax promotes energy efficiency, reduces emissions and reduces our dependence on imported fossil fuels. Accordingly I do not intend to defer the further increase of €10 per tonne of CO2 emissions from 1 May 2014.

Departmental Funding

Questions (155)

John O'Mahony

Question:

155. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Finance the amount of funding allocated by his Department in County Mayo, and the list of the projects that benefitted in 2011, 2012, 2013 and to date in 2014 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14896/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The high level goals for my Department mainly relate to policy development rather than the delivery of frontline projects. Therefore, it did not fund any projects in County Mayo in 2011, 2012, 2013 and to date in 2014.

Property Tax Exemptions

Questions (156)

Áine Collins

Question:

156. Deputy Áine Collins asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person who received a serious brain injury and did not receive compensation because the accident happened on his own property is not exempt from local property tax in the same way as someone who received a serious brain injury in an accident in which they received compensation. [15021/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

While there is no specific exemption from Local Property Tax (LPT) for a person with a disability, in certain limited circumstances an exemption may apply. Section 10B of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended) provides that an exemption from the charge to LPT may apply to a residential property purchased, built or adapted to make it suitable for occupation by a permanently and totally incapacitated individual as their sole or main residence, where an award has been made by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board or a court, or where a trust has been established, specifically for the benefit of such individuals.  

Where an exemption cannot be claimed under section 10B of the Act, an incapacitated person may qualify for a reduction in the market value of their property under section 15A of the 2012 Act. This section provides for a reduction in the market value of a residential property that has been adapted for occupation by a disabled person where the adaptation has been grant-aided or approved for grant aid, by a local authority, and where the adaptation increases the market value of the property. Furthermore, the person with the disability must occupy the property as his or her sole or main residence after the adaptation is completed. The reduction in value is limited to the lesser of the chargeable value attributable to the adaptation work carried out on the property and the maximum grant payable under the relevant local authority scheme. The relief ends on the sale or transfer of a property that has been adapted unless the person with the disability continues to reside in the property. It should also be noted that the impact of such adaptations on a property may decrease its value which may in turn impact on the LPT liability.  

I understand that my officials, in consultation with the Revenue Commissioners, are currently looking at issues related to the operation of the LPT reliefs available for certain disabled and/or incapacitated individuals.

Property Tax Administration

Questions (157)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

157. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding local property tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15024/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Government decided that a liability to the Local Property Tax (LPT) should apply to all owners of residential properties with a limited number of reliefs. Any given yield could only be maintained by increasing the rate charged were the number of reliefs to be extended. I have no plans to introduce a credit system for the provision of particular services such as water or sewerage.  

Revenues from the LPT will support the provision of services by local authorities.  Local authorities provide a broad range of services, the proper functioning of which are important for the wellbeing of every community and household. These include fire and emergency services; road maintenance and cleaning; street lighting; spatial and development planning and other similar services; regulatory and inspection functions and business support services, as well as libraries, parks, and other recreation and cultural public amenities.

Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme

Questions (158)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

158. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the savings estimated to be made in 2015 by the revocation of regulation 16 of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994, SI 353 of 1994. [14741/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy is aware, following a ruling by the European Court of Justice in April 2013 and subsequent negotiations with the European Commission, the excise relief on fuel element of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers scheme will be discontinued from 31 December 2014. However, as I have previously stated, arrangements will be made during the year to provide for a new fuel grant scheme for disabled drivers which will have the same levels of support as the current excise relief scheme and there will be a seamless transition between the two schemes. 

Given that the same level of support will be available under the new fuel grant scheme as under the excise relief on fuel element of the existing scheme, and assuming the number of claims in 2015 remain at similar levels, there will be no net saving in 2015 from the removal of Regulation 16 of The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994 (S.I. No. 353 of 1994).

Central Bank of Ireland

Questions (159)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

159. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the services and-or operations at the Central Bank of Ireland that have been outsourced; the number that are in the process of being outsourced; and the additional services and-or operations that are planned to be outsourced. [14748/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I have been informed by the Central Bank that it continually reviews its operations to ensure services are delivered in an efficient and cost effective manner consistent with the needs of the organisation. The Central Bank has used external third party service providers for many years and will continue to do so where it feels that it is necessary and justified.  

In the area of facilities management, I am informed by the Central Bank that it has developed a model whereby both directly employed staff and specialist external staff are used in different combinations depending on the premises involved. Operations and services in this area include, for example, catering services, cleaning services, building maintenance and building reception services.  

The Central Bank has also informed me that a third party service provider is used for contact centre services for some public contacts and also for transactional services with regulated entities. A range of third party service providers are also used for Information Technology services including the provision of physical data centre environments.

Central Bank of Ireland IT Operations

Questions (160)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

160. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if the Central Banks of Ireland's HR IT system is based in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14749/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I have been informed by the Central Bank that it is in the process of replacing its HR IT system. The current systems are out of date and are being replaced with two newer systems in the course of 2014. It is expected that one system will remain based in Ireland while the other  will use a "cloud based" service operated and resident within the EU. The Central Bank has informed me that the "cloud based" service has been subject to an assessment against data protection standards and a robust security assessment was also undertaken including a physical site inspection.

Central Bank of Ireland

Questions (161, 162, 163, 164)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

161. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the background checks that are carried out on employees working at a company (details supplied) or any other company providing services to the Central Bank of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14750/14]

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Pearse Doherty

Question:

162. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the obligations in terms of secrecy employees at companies like a company (details supplied) dealing with sensitive financial information at the Central Bank of Ireland are under; and the potential exposure of the State in cases where these employees may act unscrupulously. [14751/14]

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Pearse Doherty

Question:

163. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the total paid to date by the Central Bank of Ireland to a company (details supplied) for the outsourcing of services; and the likely final cost. [14752/14]

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Pearse Doherty

Question:

164. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance when the outsourcing of data held by the Central Bank of Ireland to a company's (detail supplied) data centre will be complete; and when the original target for completion was. [14753/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 161 to 164, inclusive, together.

The responsibility for operational and security policies at the Central Bank is a matter for the Central Bank Commission and the Governor of the Central Bank. Section 33AK of the Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended) sets out the disclosure of information obligations of those employed or engaged by the Central Bank. I have been informed by the Central Bank that it is the general practice to require third party suppliers/contractors  to sign a Section 33AK declaration, whereby the contractor or supplier acknowledges that it has been made aware of the secrecy provisions of the Central Bank Acts and agrees to notify each of its employees engaged in providing services or supplies to the Central Bank of such obligations, and, where appropriate, have that employee sign a separate Section 33AK declaration in his or her own name.  This ensures that all persons (both the company and individual employees of that company), are subject to both statutory and contractual obligations in respect of confidential information and compliance with Section 33AK.  

Furthermore, I have been informed by the Central Bank that it is a registered organisation with the Garda Vetting Unit, and this unit, with the approval of the subject of enquiry, makes criminal history disclosures of such enquiries to the Central Bank. The policy of the Central Bank is to conduct Garda vetting for all employees and also for any third party service providers or contractors who qualify for unaccompanied access to Central Bank premises. The policies of the Central Bank with regard to employees and third party service providers are to ensure that appropriate controls and legal conditions are in place to prevent unauthorised disclosure of Central Bank data.  

 In the case of the service provider named by the Deputy, it is a specific condition of the contract that Garda vetting checks may be undertaken if directed by the Central Bank. In addition, the service provider is under an express contractual obligation to the Central Bank to ensure those working on Central Bank services are made aware of their professional secrecy obligations arising under Section 33AK of the Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended), including their duties with respect to maintaining confidential information of the Central Bank and the fact that contravention of Section 33AK (1) is a criminal offence. (In this context it should also be noted that this service provider does not have access to any of the Central Bank's business applications. The security of the technical aspects of the systems are achieved through a combination of physical and logical protections, procedural and process protections, security features including encryption where necessary and on-going monitoring and reporting features).  

In relation to the outsourcing of IT services, the Central Bank selected Hewlett Packard as a result of an open tendering process in compliance with the strict guidelines laid down by the EU public procurement process.  I am informed by the Central Bank that a robust business case in which a number of alternatives were investigated thoroughly and compared across a number of criteria, including cost, was produced and was approved by the Central Bank Commission. The costs agreed with the provider are commercially sensitive and are not available for release. However the approach taken by the Central Bank was considerably advantageous on cost when compared to the alternatives examined.  

The Central Bank has notified me that the migration of data centre services to Hewlett Packard will be fully completed in the coming weeks.  A phased migration approach was adopted as part of a fixed price contract and the first live services began in May 2013, with the majority of the services running from the Hewlett Packard premises since September/October 2013. The migration timeframe included a number of months delay arising from a range of factors. The residual service migration is currently under way and is scheduled to complete by end April 2014.

Tax Exemptions

Questions (165)

Paul Connaughton

Question:

165. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 358 of 4 March 2014, if the exemption for capital gains tax in relation to land which has been leased for the past five years is available in cases where land has been rented for five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14800/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I assume the question relates to whether capital gains tax retirement relief would apply to land which has been rented for 5 years under an informal letting arrangement rather than under a formal lease. In Budget 2014, I announced an extension of the capital gains tax retirement relief which was subsequently implemented in the Finance (No. 2) Act 2013. That Act amended section 598 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, which grants relief in respect of a disposal of business or agricultural assets which have been owned and used for business or farming purposes for a period of at least 10 years prior to the disposal of those assets. The relief also applies to land which has been let in certain circumstances where the 10-year ownership and use test has been met immediately before the letting of the land commenced.  

The amendment retained the existing relief where the land was let at any time in the period of 15 years prior to the disposal and the disposal is to a child (within the meaning of section 599 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997) of the individual disposing of the land. In this connection, section 599 provides that a child includes a child of a deceased child, certain nephews and nieces and foster children in certain circumstances. The amendment in Finance (No.2) Act 2013 provides that CGT retirement relief under section 598 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 applies where the land has been leased under a formal agreement to a person for the purposes of farming and each letting of that land is for a minimum period of 5 consecutive years in the period of 15 years prior to the disposal and that disposal is to a person other than a child (within the meaning of section 599 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997) of the individual disposing of the land.  

I am advised, therefore, that if the relevant land was rented for 5 years under an informal letting arrangement such as a conacre agreement and the disposal is to a person other than a child (within the meaning of section 599 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997), retirement relief would not apply.

Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme

Questions (166)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

166. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons who availed of tax refunds for fuel under regulation 16 of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994 for each of the past three years. [14885/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the number of persons who availed of tax refunds for fuel, under Regulation 16 of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994, for the past three years is as follows:

Year

Tax Refunds

2011

11,246

2012

11,617

2013

11,436

Tax Relief Eligibility

Questions (167)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

167. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a list of the tax benefits and-or concessions that do not require primary legislation to alter their eligibility rules or payment levels. [14948/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The various Taxes Acts provide for the granting of credits, reliefs, allowances and deductions for tax purposes. A standard approach used is to provide for a relief in primary law and set out the terms and conditions in secondary legislation. It should be noted that the question is very wide reaching and the research needed to ensure that all of the tax benefits referred to in the question were identified could not be conducted in the time available. There may, therefore, be examples of tax benefits or concessions in addition to those identified. I am taking it that the Deputy is referring to tax benefits that impact on the level of tax liabilities or reliefs that may be availed by taxpayers. If the Deputy has a specific tax benefit or issue in mind, he may wish to contact the Revenue Commissioners directly.  

In general terms, such credits, reliefs, allowances and deductions are granted on the basis of a claimant meeting the qualifying criteria set out in primary legislation. Any alteration of the qualifying criteria for these credits, reliefs, allowances and deductions can only be brought about by amending primary legislation. In addition, allowances, reliefs and deductions are generally based on the amount paid or incurred by an individual or a percentage of the amount paid or incurred. Any alteration to this can only be brought about by amending primary legislation.  

Income tax

Section 195 of the Taxes Consolidation Act (TCA) 1997 provides for exemption of certain earnings of writers, composers, and artists. Ministerial Guidelines on the relief are issued by the Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.  

Relief for fees paid for third level education: 

The definition of "qualifying fees" under section 473A TCA 1997, allows the Minister for Education and Science, with the consent of the Minister for Finance to set the maximum amount of fees allowable in respect of an approved course for an academic year.  This is currently set at €7,000.  

Indirect Taxes

The reliefs and exemptions in relation to Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) are provided for in the 1992 Finance Act and in a number Ministerial Regulations. A series of Regulations were made coinciding with and following the introduction of VRT in 1993.  These regulations provide more detailed conditions under which reliefs and exemptions may be granted, for example where repayments of VRT may be made (SI No. 437 of 1992), where tax may be remitted or repaid to disabled drivers, passengers or organisations (SI No. 353 of 1994), where relief may be granted for transferring domicile to the State (SI No. 59 of 1993), where tax may be exempted for temporary importation (SI No. 60 of 1993).  

In  relation to VAT primary legislation provides that reliefs may be granted by way of Ministerial Order. There are a small number of VAT Refund Orders in place that are generally historic and have been made for societal or economic purposes. Examples of such reliefs in relation to VAT are as follows:

Value-Added Tax (Refund of Tax)(No. 15) Order 1981 (S.I. No 428 of 1981) which provides for refund of VAT in relation to goods purchased for the exclusive use of disabled persons.  

Value-Added Tax (Refund of Tax)(No. 23) Order 1992 (S.I. No 58 of 1992) which provides for refunds of VAT in relation to qualifying medical equipment purchased through voluntary donations.  Value-Added Tax (Refund of Tax)(Flat-rate Farmers) Order  2012 (S.I. No 201 of 2012) which provides for refunds of VAT paid by farmers in respect of construction of farm buildings, fencing, drainage and micro-generation equipment.  

Exercise of discretion by Revenue - Pensions

Part 30 of the TCA 1997 grants discretionary powers to Revenue in relation to the approval of occupational pension schemes, retirement annuity contracts and PRSAs. The Revenue Pensions Manual, published on the Revenue website, gives general guidance on how these powers are exercised and describes certain administrative provisions arising on foot of the exercising of Revenue's discretion in the pensions area. Amongst these provisions, and of particular relevance in the context of the question, is that relating to the payment of once-off pensions (i.e. full commutation) in respect of trivial or small pensions funds.  

Under this measure, an approved pension scheme may permit full commutation of a pension if the aggregate benefits payable to an employee under the scheme and any other scheme relating to the same employment, do not exceed the value of a pension of €330 per annum. This treatment may also be offered in the same circumstances to holders of PRSAs and RACs. The commuted pension is subject to tax at a rate of 10% as provided for under section 781(3) TCA 1997. Alternatively, a once-off pension payment may be made where the total of all funds available for pension benefits from all sources, following payment of any lump sum benefit, is less than €20,000. In these circumstances, the rates of tax and USC to be applied are those that apply to any other pension payment.  

Revenue practices intended to facilitate compliance

On the basis of the qualifying criteria set out in primary legislation, for administrative reasons and to obviate the necessity for taxpayers to submit annual claims and to maintain records, the Revenue Commissioners sometimes set or agree fixed amounts for some, or some elements of reliefs, allowances and deductions. Examples include:

- Flat rate expenses. Where a large number of employees incur expenses which are deductible under the provisions of section 114 TCA 1997 and which are not reimbursed by their employer, a standard flat rate expenses deduction may be agreed between Revenue and representatives of groups or classes of employees (usually the employees are represented by trade unions). The agreed deduction is then available to all employees of the class or group in question. This ensures that each individual is granted the same amount and ensures uniformity of approach in Revenue offices around the country. In addition, it eliminates the necessity for individual claims to be submitted annually to Revenue.  However, this is not to say that an individual cannot make a claim over and above the agreed amount in respect of the actual amount deductible where this amount exceeds the flat rate.

- Travel & Subsistence rates. Reasonable vouched travel and subsistence expenses can be reimbursed to an employee on a tax free basis.  Rather than submit vouched expenses to employers, an employee may make a claim for round sum amounts once those amounts are not in excess of the civil service travel and subsistence rates, as set by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

- Health expenses for children with life threatening illnesses or permanent disabilities. Tax relief under section 469 TCA 1997 is available for health expenses incurred in respect of children with life threatening illnesses (including child oncology patients), and children with permanent disabilities who require constant or regular hospital care.  Where the child is being treated at home, a flat rate of €305 (for 2013), to include the cost of telephone rental and calls, may be claimed where the expenses are incurred for purposes directly connected with the treatment of the child.

- Tax relief for Guide Dogs for blind people. Where a blind person maintains a trained guide dog supplied by the Irish Guide Dog Association, a sum of €825 may be claimed as a health expense under Section 469 TCA 1997.  Relief is available at the standard rate of tax.  Claimants are not requested to vouch such claims. However, a letter from the Irish Guide Dog Association confirming that the claimant is the registered owner of a guide dog must be submitted with the first claim for relief.

- Kidney Patients. Relief for health expenses is granted in respect of certain additional expenses incurred by kidney patients as follows:

- In cases of hospital dialysis (where the patient attends hospital for treatment) the expenses incurred in travelling to and from hospital for treatment are allowed at the rate of €0.17 per km.

- In cases of home dialysis (where the patient uses a dialysis machine at home) relief is allowed up to the following limits for 2013:

- Electricity used of €2,006

- Laundry and Protective Clothing of €1,935

- Telephone €305

- The cost of expenses incurred in travelling to and from hospital for treatment is allowed at the rate of €0.17 per km.

- In cases of Chronic Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis - "CAPD" (where the patient has treatment at home without he use of a dialysis machine) relief is allowed in respect of expenditure up to the following limits for 2013:

- Electricity used of €1,585

- Telephone €305

- The cost of expenses incurred in travelling to and from hospital for treatment is allowed at the rate of €0.17 per km.

- Small benefits exemption. Where an employer provides an employee with a small benefit (that is, a benefit with a value not exceeding €250), PAYE and PRSI need not be applied to that benefit.  No more than one such benefit given to an employee in a tax year qualifies for such treatment.  Where a benefit exceeds €250 in value, the full value of the benefit is subjected to PAYE and PRSI.

The idea of this administrative small benefits exemption, introduced by the Minister for Finance, was to exclude from tax items such as Christmas gifts given by an employer to employees.  This treatment does not apply to cash payments, which are taxable in full.  

Other Revenue interpretations and practices

The Revenue Commissioners will, on occasion, issue interpretations and guidance in relation to the application of certain reliefs, benefits or deductions, particularly where there is an element of uncertainty as to the application of the law in particular circumstances. These interpretations may be published on the Revenue Commissioners' website in Tax & Duty Manuals[1] or as precedents[2] or in Tax Briefings[3] or e-briefs[4].  These interpretations do not alter the eligibility rules or payment levels; they are simply clarifications.  

[1] http://www.revenue.ie/en/about/foi/s16/index.html

[2] http://www.revenue.ie/en/about/foi/precedents/index.html

[3] http://www.revenue.ie/en/practitioner/tax-briefing/index.html

[4] http://www.revenue.ie/en/practitioner/ebrief/index.html

Additional Voluntary Contributions

Questions (168)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

168. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding private pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14964/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Section 782A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides members of occupational pension schemes with a once-off opportunity to access their Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs), pre-retirement. The option is available for a three year period from 27 March 2013, the date that the Finance Act 2013 was passed into law.  

There are a number of reasons why, under existing policies, pre-retirement access to the main benefits from pension plans or schemes is not permitted, the principal one being that these arrangements (and the associated tax reliefs on contributions and pension fund growth) are designed to be long term savings vehicles based on the principle that the benefits will be "locked away" to help fund an adequate income in retirement.  

The pre-retirement access to a portion of AVCs which I introduced in Budget and Finance Act 2013 is allowed on a tax-neutral basis the contributions were tax-relieved at the individual's marginal rate on the way in and are taxed at the individual's marginal rate on withdrawal. The take-up of the measure to date has not been particularly significant. I would remind the Deputy, however, that this is a measure which was designed to enable rather than incentivise individuals to access part of their pension savings beyond their regular or compulsory pension contributions. It is important that individuals continue to provide for their retirement and, it would appear, most individuals with AVCs have to date decided to preserve their AVC pension savings. For these reasons, I have no plans to extend the measure beyond AVCs.

NAMA Portfolio

Questions (169)

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

169. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Finance the working capital the National Asset Management Agency has had to invest into the operation and trading of a company (details supplied); the reason, since NAMA reneged on the management buy-out pursuant to agreement dated 27 January 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14969/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

This matter was comprehensively addressed in my responses to the Deputy's recent Parliamentary Questions (PQ), including in response to PQs 209 - 213 and 257 which were answered on 25 March 2014, and by my colleague Minister Bruton in the Oireachtas on Tuesday 11th March 2014. NAMA is subject to similar legal requirements as other lenders that preclude it from discussing the financial details of its debtors with any third party.  NAMA has acted appropriately all times in this matter in line with legal advice.

Pension Provisions

Questions (170)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

170. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will be permitted to use current income from employment in calculations for the specified income for the transfer of the person's approved minimum retirement fund pension to an approved retirement fund before the age of 75; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14981/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that it is not possible to give a reply to the actual case based on the information supplied by the Deputy, but if the Deputy wishes to write to Revenue with further details a comprehensive response will be provided.  

However on the general point of eligibility the Revenue Commissioners have advised me that to transfer an Approved Minimum Retirement Fund (AMRF) to an Approved Retirement Fund (ARF) before the age of seventy five, an individual must be in receipt of specified income of €12,700 in order to make such a transfer. Specified Income is defined as a pension or annuity which is payable for the life of the individual, including a pension payable under the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005. Therefore income from employment which ceases when the employment ends would not qualify as specified income.

Tax Relief Availability

Questions (171)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

171. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if he is considering making primary school fees tax deductible particularly in areas where there is insufficient capacity in local free schools to meet local demand. [15008/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Section 473A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for tax relief at the standard rate of income tax (20%), subject to certain minimum thresholds, in respect of qualifying fees paid by an individual for a third-level education course, including a postgraduate course. Qualifying fees mean tuition fees in respect of an approved course at an approved college and includes what is referred to as the "student contribution". No other fees e.g. administration fees, examination fees, capitation fees, qualify for tax relief.  Tuition fees that are, or will be, met directly or indirectly by grant, scholarship, employer contribution or other means are deducted in arriving at the net qualifying fees.  

I have no current plans to introduce tax relief for fees paid to private primary or post-primary schools.

Property Tax Deferrals

Questions (172)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

172. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding property tax in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15019/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am informed by Revenue that Part 12 of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended) provides for a system of either full or partial deferral arrangements where there is an inability to pay Local Property Tax (LPT).  However, the deferral has to be claimed.  

From the information available to Revenue, it appears that the person in question is entitled to a full deferral on the basis of his income threshold. That being the case, the person should immediately complete his 2013 LPT Return selecting the full deferral option. Revenue has stressed the importance of the person immediately completing and submitting the 2013 LPT Return to avoid the imposition of higher interest charges and/or unnecessary debt collection enforcement activity.  

For the Deputy's information, the Guide to LPT booklet, which issued to property owners with the 2013 LPT Return form and which is also available on www.revenue.ie, summarises the categories and conditions required for deferral and partial deferral of LPT. Revenue has also published extensive guidelines on its website in regard to deferral of LPT, which outlines the various conditions and impacts of opting for either full or partial deferrals.  

Finally, if the person requires any further advice or assistance in meeting his LPT obligations, he should contact the LPT helpline at 1890 200255.

Tax Exemptions

Questions (173)

Heather Humphreys

Question:

173. Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider introducing a tax exemption for farmers who have to sell entitlements before 15 May 2014 as a result of the Common Agricultural Policy changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15027/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I assume the Deputy is referring to single farm payment entitlements. A single farm payment entitlement is a chargeable asset for capital gains tax (CGT) purposes and once acquired it may be disposed of by way of sale, gift etc. Accordingly, gains arising from the disposal of single farm payment entitlements are chargeable to CGT in the same way as gains made on any other chargeable assets. Where total gains in any year do not exceed €1,270 they are not chargeable to CGT.  

With regard to the transfer of single farm payment entitlements for VAT purposes, where a payment entitlement is sold without land then VAT is due at the standard rate on the sale if the sale proceeds exceed the relevant threshold for VAT registration (currently €37,500). However, where a payment entitlement and land are sold together to a person who intends to carry on the farming business, then the sale may be treated as the transfer of a business and not subject to VAT. There may be other less significant tax implications in certain instances.  

Officials in my Department are considering this issue with officials from the Department Agriculture, Food and the Marine. However, I have no plans at this time to alter the tax treatment referred to above.

Tax Rebates

Questions (174)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

174. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if a refund of universal social charge is due in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15060/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the person in question visited the Revenue Office in Kilkenny on 18th March 2014 and submitted a form  P60 for the 2013 tax year. The person's liability for 2013 has now been reviewed and an overpayment of USC in the sum of €48.66 arises. A PAYE Balancing Statement, Form P 21 and repayment will issue to the person concerned shortly.