Thursday, 22 November 2018

Questions (13)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

13. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the amount of carbon tax collected on solid fuels in each of the years 2015 to 2017 and to date in 2018, respectively; the steps he is taking to ensure compliance with the law in this regard and secure the revenue base; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48421/18]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Solid Fuel Carbon Tax was commenced in May 2013 at a rate of €10 per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted when combusted, and was increased to €20 per tonne in 2014. Approximately 75% of solid fuel carbon tax yield relates to coal.

Annual net receipts for the tax amounted to €23.5m in 2015, €24.4m in 2016 and €19.1m in 2017. As of end October, receipts to date in 2018 amounted to €19.9m.

Revenue has responsibility for administering this tax and takes a risk-focused approach in its deployment of resources on compliance activities. Solid fuel carbon tax is collected by Revenue on a self-assessment basis and compliance with the law is enforced using the full range of compliance interventions and enforcement provisions for self-assessed taxes. Liable fuel suppliers must file a return and pay for each bi-monthly period by the last day of the following month. Where suppliers do not submit returns by the due date Revenue will issue an estimate of the tax due. If a taxpayer fails to pay the amount due, including any debt for which an estimate has issued, Revenue may refer the debt for enforcement action. This can include sheriff enforcement, civil proceedings through the courts or attachment of third parties. I am advised that, to date, Revenue has undertaken actions to enforce approximately €640,000 of Solid Fuel Carbon Tax.

Under European Union Single Market constraints, Revenue has no authority to stop vehicles and physically inspect loads of solid fuel. Similarly, the transport or possession of solid fuel that originated in Northern Ireland are not, in themselves, Revenue offences and Revenue officers have no authority to challenge such transportation or possession.

As I, and my predecessor, have pointed out before, because of the price differential with Northern Ireland, the collection of solid fuel carbon tax is heavily reliant on the regulatory regime covering the marketing, sale, distribution and burning of solid fuels in the State. This regulatory regime is operated by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and is enforced by local authorities. This regime, which imposes higher environmental standards on coal in the State than applies in Northern Ireland, enables local authorities to undertake enforcement action to prevent the sale or distribution of coal that does not meet our standards.

I am advised that Revenue is working with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to discuss the effectiveness of the regulatory regime for solid fuel and to explore how Revenue could support the Department to improve matters in light of continuing concerns that fuel sourced from Northern Ireland is getting onto the market here. I understand that contacts are ongoing with a view to undertaking a number of joint operations and to explore the scope for follow up action by Revenue in relation to persons found to be in breach of environmental regulations.