Defence Forces Review

Questions (46)

Clare Daly

Question:

46. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question No. 75 of 3 October 2018, if the gap analysis of skills sets in the Permanent Defence Forces has commenced; when it will conclude; and the steps that will be taken following this gap analysis to address skills gaps. [41323/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

As I stated previously, the White Paper on Defence sets the defence policy agenda up to 2025 and includes the identification of some 90 projects/actions to be implemented on a phased basis over the lifetime of the programme.

The project referred to entails a gap analysis of skill sets within the Permanent Defence Force to identify the frequency of gaps and appropriate measures to address them. Joint civil military project planning is underway in relation thereto.

Defence Forces Personnel

Questions (47)

Clare Daly

Question:

47. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to conduct an independent external review of Defence Forces human resources management in view of the retention crisis in the organisation. [41324/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Permanent Defence Force continues to offer excellent career opportunities for serving personnel and for new entrants. I have acknowledged previously that there are challenges relating to the recruitment and retention of particular personnel within the Defence Forces and I have set out actions being undertaken to address them. The underlying causes for this issue are complex and can include pay and non pay issues.

The Government tasked the Public Service Pay Commission with examining challenges relating to recruitment and retention in the Defence Sector in more detail. The Public Service Pay Commission has commenced this work and it would not be appropriate to speculate on possible outcomes of that work.

The White Paper on Defence sets the defence policy agenda over a ten year period. It includes a broad programme of human resources development for which work is already underway on 11 projects.

The Conciliation and Arbitration scheme for members of the PDF, which provides a formal mechanism for the PDF representative associations to engage with the Official side, affords a facility to assess HR issues. I am currently reviewing the recommendations made in the recently published report on the review of the Scheme. I look forward to engaging with all parties in progressing reforms to the existing Scheme.

In addition to the above, I meet with senior civil and military management on a frequent basis to discuss all aspects matters relating to the Defence Forces. I am satisfied that there is in place a suite of measures that provides a satisfactory framework within which matters relating to Human Resources in the Defence Forces can be addressed as needs arise and, on that basis.

I will continue to work closely with the Chief of Staff and the Secretary General in developing these approaches.

Air Corps Strength

Questions (48)

John Lahart

Question:

48. Deputy John Lahart asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the staffing levels at Baldonnel Aerodrome in each of the years 2011 to 2017 and to date in 2018. [41441/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The military authorities have provided the following table, which contains the details of the staffing levels at Baldonnel Aerodrome for each of the years 2011 and to date in 2018.

YEAR

TOTAL STRENGTH

2011

785

2012

783

2013

769

2014

769

2015

750

2016

704

2017

724

2018*

700

*2018 figures correct as of 31 August 2018

As the Deputy is aware, I have previously acknowledged that, in the Air Corps, there are particular challenges with vacancies in certain specialist posts such as Pilots, Air Traffic Controllers and certain Technicians. The level of training and experience gained by members of the Defence Forces makes them attractive to private sector employers. The Defence Forces are not unique in this regard and this is experienced by other parts of the public service and by other military organisations internationally.

Under my direction, the Department brought the issue of recruitment and retention of these specialists to the attention of the Public Service Pay Commission. The Government will study any recommendations arising from the Public Service Pay Commission when they are published.

In addition to availing of traditional recruitment to address vacancies in these specialist positions, I have initiated a range of actions which include the development of alternative recruitment methods. A working group is examining the scope for greater use of direct entry recruitment for certain specialist positions and steps are being progressed to enable former members of the Permanent Defence Force, who have sought after skills, to re-enter the PDF. I will continue to work closely with the Chief of Staff in developing these approaches.

Following recent recruitment competitions, the military authorities have informed me that 7 Cadet Pilots and 20 Apprentice Military Aircraft Technicians were inducted in September.

Air Corps Operations

Questions (49)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

49. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the potential of the Air Corps being redeployed to provide helicopter support services for the Irish Coast Guard has been examined; and if a business case or cost-benefit analysis will be requested in order to examine this potential. [41444/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Irish Coast Guard operates under the aegis of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and has overall responsibility for the provision of Search and Rescue services within the Irish search and rescue region. As such, this is a matter for the Minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Customs and Excise Staff

Questions (50)

Niall Collins

Question:

50. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the status of the recruitment of 450 new customs officials in view of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41272/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that it will require an additional 600 staff as a result of Brexit, based on a scenario of a transition period to the end of 2020 and a future trade agreement. These posts will be filled by internal, interdepartmental and open recruitment and a recruitment campaign has started with a view to having 200 officers trained and in place before 29 March 2019.

As part of this campaign the Public Appointments Service advertised for Clerical Officers in Customs Trade Facilitation on 30 August 2018 and the closing date for applications was 11 September 2018.

Over 3,000 applications were received and the Public Appointments Service are processing these applications and it is expected that interviews will be held before the end of October. At this juncture I am advised by Revenue that it is envisaged that the balance of 400 staff will be recruited during the transition period from April 2019 to the end of 2020.

VAT Rate Application

Questions (51)

Carol Nolan

Question:

51. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Finance his plans in budget 2019 to reduce the rate of VAT on non-oral animal medicines from the current rate of 23% to a rate of 5% as allowable under Directive 2006/112/EC. [41424/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The VAT rating of goods and services is subject to EU VAT law, with which Irish VAT law must comply. As Ireland already operates 9% and 13.5% reduced VAT rates, it is not legally possible to introduce a third VAT rate at 5%. However, it is possible under Annex III of the VAT Directive to apply a reduced VAT rate of 9% or 13.5% to non-oral pharmaceutical products.

In order for a zero rate of VAT to be applied to a good or service, that good or service must have applied at the zero rate on 1 January 1991 and have continued to apply at that rate since. No new items may be charged at the zero rate, where they had not been subject to the zero rate before 1991. In Ireland the zero VAT rate applies to oral medicines, including oral medicines for animals, as they were subject to the zero rate on and since 1 January 1991. However, non-oral animal medicines were not subject to the zero rate on 1 January 1991, so it is not legally possible to apply the zero rate to them now.

Under the EU VAT Directive, Ireland has scope to potentially reduce the rate of VAT on non-oral animal medicines from 23% to a reduced rate. However, such a reduction would have a limited benefit to the farming community, as VAT-registered farmers are entitled to full VAT deductibility on their input costs while unregistered farmers are compensated for their VAT input costs through the flat rate addition they receive on payments for supplies of agricultural produce and services.

Tax Code

Questions (52)

Carol Nolan

Question:

52. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Finance if provision will be made in budget 2019 to decouple agricultural property from commercial property; and his plans to make provision for stamp duty rates in line with the current residential rates of 1% and 2%. [41425/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

In Budget 2019, I have made no provision for changing the category for agricultural property.

Farming is first and foremost a business, and indeed section 655 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 states "For the purposes of the Tax Acts, farming shall be treated as the carrying on of a trade or, as the case may be, of part of a trade, and the profits or gains of farming shall be charged to tax under Case I of Schedule D."

I have no plans for amending this status.

Corporation Tax

Questions (53, 54, 55)

Joan Burton

Question:

53. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an analysis of the known losses carried forward for corporation tax purposes at 31 December 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively, under each heading (details supplied) by general NACE classifications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41279/18]

View answer

Joan Burton

Question:

54. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an analysis of the known losses carried forward for income tax purposes at 31 December 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively, under headings (details supplied) by general NACE classifications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41280/18]

View answer

Joan Burton

Question:

55. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an analysis of known losses carried forward for corporation tax purposes at 31 December 2015, 2016 and 2017 under headings (details supplied) by general NACE classifications, which are more than five and ten years old; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41281/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 53 to 55, inclusive, together.

A sectoral breakdown of Corporation Tax trading losses forward for the tax years 2015 and 2016, which are the latest years available, is contained in Revenue’s Corporation Tax Publication (Table 19) at link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/research/ct-analysis-2018.pdf. The publication also provides information on capital allowances (Table 20) and the R&D credit (Table 21).

The available information in respect of Corporation Tax rental losses carried forward by sector for the tax years 2015 and 2016 is set out in the following table.

Corporation Tax

Rental Losses Carried Forward (€m)

2015

2016

Financial and Insurance

147.60

251.96

Administration and Support Services

13.26

13.54

Information and Communications

14.87

21.29

Construction

218.15

226.55

Manufacturing

23.99

23.48

Transport and Storage

11.12

14.27

Wholesale and Retail Trade

37.18

45.31

All Other Sectors

427.06

417.91

Total

893.23

1,014.31

The available information in respect of a sectoral breakdown of losses forward from self-assessed Income Tax returns for the tax years 2015 and 2016, which are the latest years available, is set out in the following table.

Income Tax

Rental Losses Carried Forward (€m)

Trade Losses Carried Forward (€m)

2015

2016

2015

2016

Financial and Insurance

29.8

31.2

17

21

Administration and Support Services

7.5

7.0

8.2

8.0

Information and Communications

8.6

7.3

1.6

1.8

Construction

190

174

589

627

Manufacturing

6.7

6.1

6.3

5.9

Transport and Storage

21.9

21.6

13

20

Wholesale and Retail Trade

73

67

56

53

All Other Sectors

1,458

1,339

1,382

1,266

Total

1,795

1,653

2,074

2,001

Revenue has advised me that it is not possible to provide a breakdown of trading losses forward by type of underlying loss or a breakdown by age of losses forward as this information is not separately identified on tax returns.

Information for 2017 will be published in 2019 when Corporation and Income Tax returns for the year have been filed and analysed.

Corporation Tax

Questions (56)

Joan Burton

Question:

56. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether it is time to limit all losses forward for income and or corporation tax purposes; the estimated yield of such an action in a full year; if a time to limit was set at five or ten years, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41282/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am informed by Revenue that timeline information in respect of losses (to show the age profile of losses and unused capital allowances associated with claims) is not available on tax returns. While it is likely that restricting the use of these losses, including unused capital allowances, could lead to large theoretical gains depending on the time limit chosen, it is not possible to provide an accurate estimate of this yield in the absence of underlying information.

Tax Collection

Questions (57, 58, 59, 60, 61)

Joan Burton

Question:

57. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the estimated increase in the number of high net worth individuals dealt with by the Revenue Commissioners large cases division if the threshold for inclusion was reduced to €30 million; the additional resources which would be required to provide for such a reduction; if such resources will be made available to the Revenue Commissioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41283/18]

View answer

Joan Burton

Question:

58. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the estimated increase in the number of high net worth individuals dealt with by the Revenue Commissioners large cases division if the threshold for inclusion was reduced to €20 million; the additional resources which would be required to provide for such a reduction; if such resources will be made available to the Revenue Commissioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41284/18]

View answer

Joan Burton

Question:

59. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the estimated increase in the number of high net worth individuals dealt with by the Revenue Commissioners large cases division if the threshold for inclusion was reduced to €10 million; the additional resources which would be required to provide for such a reduction; if such resources will be made available to the Revenue Commissioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41285/18]

View answer

Joan Burton

Question:

60. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of new cases added to the high net worth individuals unit in the Revenue Commissioners large cases division in each year since the unit's formation in 2003; the number of cases dropped and moved to other units of the Revenue Commissioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41286/18]

View answer

Joan Burton

Question:

61. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the estimated additional audit yield if a properly resourced high net worth individuals unit took responsibility for those with net assets greater than €10 million, €20 million and €30 million, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41287/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 to 61, inclusive, together.

Tax administrations generally use assets and/or wealth as their main criteria for determining a HWI, while some also include income criteria. I am advised by Revenue that its criterion to be considered a HWI and come within the management of the HWI Units of its Large Cases Division is individuals with net assets of over €50 million.

I am advised by Revenue that there is no statutory obligation on individuals to return details of their net worth on returns of income. Accordingly, Revenue does not have the data required to estimate the number of individuals with a net worth within the thresholds requested.

Revenue has had a focus on High Wealth Individuals (HWIs) over a long period. HWIs have been managed by dedicated units within its Large Cases Division since it was established in 2003. Revenue has recently split its Large Cases Division into two divisions, one of which will now focus on HWIs, avoidance and pensions. The new Division is in the process, as reflected in one of the recommendations in the Annual Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), of reviewing the case base with a view to increasing the number of HWIs managed in the Division. The allocation of resources is a matter for Revenue but I understand that Revenue’s structural realignment, of which the setting up of the new Large Cases Division is a part, is being supported by an expansion in the number of specialist and experienced staff assigned to the oversight of the new Division’s case base. I also understand that Revenue is also establishing a new Division, the Medium Enterprises Division, to manage the affairs of the tier of cases, both corporate and individuals below the Large Cases Division.

I am advised by Revenue that the case base of the dedicated units within its Large Cases Division is adjusted periodically but not necessarily on an annual basis. The following Table provides the number of HWIs managed in the Division for the years indicated:

Year

Number of HWIs

2004

250

2006

300

2017

571

2018

480

I am advised by Revenue that cases not previously or currently meeting the criteria for inclusion in its Large Cases Division were and are subject to ongoing risk evaluation and, where necessary, intervention programmes. Revenue’s overall approach to managing compliance is to make the appropriate intervention following appraisal of the risk factors in each case. This applies to all taxpayers including those not within the responsibility of Large Cases Division.

I am satisfied that the structural realignment being advanced by Revenue combined with the use by Revenue of the powers available to them will continue to deliver an outcome where HWIs pay the appropriate tax in accordance with the legislation. Finally, I am advised by Revenue that it is not possible to estimate additional audit yield related to cases not currently within the responsibility of Revenue’s LCD. However, Revenue has pointed out that in the first instance there is a presumption of honesty regarding the behaviour of taxpayers who pay on a self-assessment basis and no category of taxpayer would be regarded, in advance of a case appraisal, as likely to give rise to audit yield. Secondly, all taxpayers are subject to risk evaluation and intervention as appropriate so bringing a particular category of taxpayers within the remit of the Large Cases Division would not, of itself, be a determinant of an increased audit yield.

Over the last number of Budgets/Estimates process I supported the business case put forward by Revenue in relation to additional resources, both personnel and ICT, and I will continue to examine any proposal put forward by Revenue in the future.

Tax Reliefs Availability

Questions (62)

Brendan Smith

Question:

62. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 281 of 17 April 2018, his plans to introduce tax relief on membership subscriptions to trade unions as applies to costs for membership or subscriptions to professional bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41495/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

As I indicated in my reply to the Deputy's question in April last, a review of the appropriate treatment for tax purposes of trade union subscriptions and professional body fees was carried out by my Department in 2016, and included in the 2016 report on tax expenditures published on Budget day 2016.

http://www.budget.gov.ie/Budgets/2017/Documents/Tax_Expenditures_Report%202016_final.pdf

The review concluded that:

"... analysis of the scheme using the principles laid down by the Department’s Tax Expenditure Guidelines shows that it fails to reach the evaluation threshold to warrant introduction in this manner.

The reinstatement of this tax relief would have no justifiable policy rationale and does not express a defined policy objective. Given that individuals join trade unions largely for the well-known benefits of membership, and the potential value of the relief to an individual would equate to just over €1 per week, this scheme would have little to no incentive effect on the numbers choosing to join. There is no specific market failure that needs to be addressed by such a scheme, and it would consist largely of deadweight."

Regarding the issue of tax relief on subscriptions to professional bodies, I refer the deputies to the section of the review which addressed this matter, stating:

"There is a fundamental difference between membership of a professional body which is required to practice that profession and membership of a trade union, which is essentially, a personal choice.

Professional bodies often have a regulatory function, governing standards within a particular sector or industry, with practitioners or employees often required to be a member of a professional body in order to engage in employment in particular fields.

A person cannot be refused the right of employment for failure to join a trade union. By contrast, a person can be refused the right of employment as a solicitor, for example, if they fail to hold a practicing certificate."

My position remains that, given the conclusion of the review, I have no plans to reintroduce such a relief.

Pensions Data

Questions (63, 64, 65, 66)

Joan Burton

Question:

63. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated cost of accrued pension rights for serving civil servants up to 31 December in each of the years 2014 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41274/18]

View answer

Joan Burton

Question:

64. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated cost of accrued pension rights for serving primary school teachers up to 31 December in each of the years 2014 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41275/18]

View answer

Joan Burton

Question:

65. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated cost of accrued pension rights for serving secondary school teachers up to 31 December in each of the years 2014 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41276/18]

View answer

Joan Burton

Question:

66. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated cost of accrued pension rights for all serving health service workers up to 31 December in each of the years 2014 to 2018, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41277/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 63 to 66, inclusive, together.

An actuarial review of the accrued liability in respect of current and former public service employees’ occupational pensions was last carried out by my Department over 2017 in respect of year-end 2015. The latest review was undertaken on behalf of the Central Statistics Office who are required to show the accrued liabilities of all funded and unfunded Irish pensions as part of the National Accounts, under EU Regulation 549 / 2013. Transmission of this data to the European Commission was mandatory from 2017, in respect of valuation year 2015, and at three yearly intervals from that date. The next valuation due is in respect of year-end 2018.

As such, the following is an estimate of the cost of accrued pension rights for serving employees in the civil service, the health sector, and the education sector as at 31 December 2015. The figures represent the present value of retirement benefits to be paid in the future on the basis of accrued pension rights of serving employees.

Sector

Accrued Liability as at 31 December 2015 - Serving Employees

-

€ Bn

Civil Service

8.8

Health

12.2

Education*

17.3

*There is no readily available breakdown of the cost of accrued pension rights for serving employees in the education sector between that corresponding to primary and secondary school teachers.

It is important to bear in mind that the accrued pension rights of serving civil servants will fall to be paid over the next 70 years or so; and not in any single year.

It is also important to stress that the government has taken a number of significant steps to improve the long-term sustainability of public service pensions in recent times. For example, the Single Public Service Pension Scheme introduced from 2013 will, in time, reduce liabilities by around 35% from what would otherwise have the case.

Also, an Additional Superannuation Contribution was introduced for public servants under the Public Service Pay and Pensions Bill (Act) 2017. This provides for additional ongoing funding support towards the cost of public service pensions from those that benefit from such pensions from the year 2019.

The full report is published on my Department's website at the following link.

http://www.per.gov.ie/en/minister-donohoe-publishes-actuarial-review-of-public-service-pension-liabilities/