Thursday, 22 November 2018

Questions (52)

Jonathan O'Brien


52. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Finance if steps will be taken to lower the threshold of high wealth individuals from those holding €50 million worth of assets to €10 million; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48651/18]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am assured by Revenue that it has maintained a focus on High Wealth Individuals (HWIs) over a long period. HWIs have been managed by dedicated units within its then Large Cases Division since it was established in 2003. Revenue recently split its Large Cases Division into two divisions, one of which is now focused on HWIs, avoidance and pensions. I am advised by Revenue that one of the current criteria to be considered a HWI, and come within the management of its Large Cases HWI Division, is to have net assets of over €50 million.  

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. As part of this review the threshold of €50 million in net assets will be re-assessed to identify the most appropriate threshold. I understand that Revenue’s structural realignment is also being supported by an expansion in the number of specialist and experienced staff assigned to the oversight of the new Division’s case base.

The Deputy will be aware that Revenue is independent in its administration of the tax and duty system. 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. This applies to all taxpayers including those not within the responsibility of the Large Cases HWI Division. For example, I understand that Revenue has  established a new Medium Enterprises Division to manage the affairs of the tier of cases, both corporate and individuals below the Large Cases Division.  This Division has a branch which will focus on wealthy individuals that fall within its case base. 

Finally, the Deputy should be aware that measures were introduced in the 2006, 2007 and 2010 Finance Acts to restrict the use of certain tax reliefs and exemptions by high income earners. These measures ensure that these individuals have an effective tax rate of approximately 30%. The report on the ‘Analysis of High Income Individuals’ Restriction 2016’ published by Revenue in September of this year shows that these restrictions impacted on 521 individuals in 2016 resulting in the collection of additional income tax of €38.5m.