Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Questions (181)

Brendan Smith

Question:

181. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Finance the status of discussions at European Union level to designate defibrillators at a zero rate of VAT; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9840/18]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Programme for Partnership Government recognises the difficulties faced by community groups in relation to VAT rates on certain products such as defibrillators. This is an EU competency and the Government has committed to work with our EU counterparts in seeking to reform this area.

Defibrillators, other than implantable defibrillators, are liable to VAT at the standard rate, which in Ireland is 23%. Parts or accessories are also liable to VAT at the standard rate. There is no provision under existing VAT law that would make it possible to apply a reduced rate or zero rate to the supply of such products. Under the EU VAT Directive, Member States may retain the zero rate on goods and services which were in place on 1 January 1991, but cannot extend the zero rate to new goods and services. As such a zero rate cannot be applied to defibrillators. Any changes to VAT rates outside of what is currently permitted by the EU VAT Directive must be negotiated at EU technical working groups and ultimately agreed by the EU Council of Finance Ministers.

As part of the Action Plan on the future of VAT launched on 7 April 2016, which sets out the Commission’s pathway for modernising the VAT system, the EU Commission published its proposal on the structure of VAT rates on January 18, 2018. Technical and political discussions have commenced at EU Council among all Member States and as these discussions progress Ireland will take the opportunity to continue to recommend that Member States should be able to apply specialised VAT rating to defibrillators and other emergency-medical and rescue equipment.

In advance of any change that might be made at EU level to the VAT rating of defibrillators and other products that pose difficulty for community groups, I am happy to draw your attention to the Budget 2018 announcement of a VAT compensation refund scheme, which will compensate charities for the VAT they occur on their inputs, in recognition of the work undertaken by the charities sector.

The scheme will take effect from 1 January 2018 but will be paid one year in arrears. That is, charities may make a claim in 2019 for VAT costs arising in 2018. Charities will be entitled to a proportion of VAT based on the level of non-public funding they receive. A capped fund of €5 million will be available to the scheme in 2019. The Government is committed to supporting community groups and we will continue to press for a reduction in the VAT rate on defibrillators at EU level.