Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (190)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

190. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Finance if tax breaks will be considered to encourage fully qualified engineers born and educated here to return from abroad to work in industry here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18665/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy may be aware, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade commissioned a report last year to examine the challenges facing returning Irish emigrants. The findings of the report are of relevance to the general issue raised by the Deputy.

The Indecon Economic Report on Addressing Challenges Faced by Returning Irish Emigrants was published on 7 March 2018 by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is available at the following link:

www.dfa.ie/media/dfa-2017/globalirish/Report-on-Returning-Emigrants-2018.pdf .

The Indecon research provided insights on emigrants’ views of the barriers faced by them in returning to Ireland.  The research highlighted that emigrants perceive significant barriers in areas of employment, motor related issues and housing.  Other relevant barriers include health and childcare, finance and banking, immigration and welfare, and education. Additional issues also considered as part of the Indecon consultation programme included entrepreneurial barriers and issues for those wishing to be involved in the agricultural sector.

In short, the report identified that a wide range of issues could be addressed with a view to attracting Irish people, born and educated in Ireland, to return from abroad.  These extend far beyond the issue of tax reliefs.  In fact, the consultants identified only one measure in the area of taxation and this related to the Help-to-Buy scheme.  However, upon further investigation, my Department considered that the measure could not be recommended for implementation due to wider knock-on implications for the operation of the scheme.

The issue of skills shortages in particular sectors and how they might best be addressed is a matter in the first instance for the Minister for Education and Skills in consultation with the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

However, the Deputy may wish to be aware that the Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP) tax incentive is available in order to reduce the cost to employers of assigning skilled individuals already employed by their companies from abroad to take up positions in the Irish based operations of the employer or an associated company, thereby facilitating the creation of jobs and the development and expansion of business in Ireland. 

SARP has been in place since 2012. The relief is available to employees of companies that are incorporated and tax resident in a country with which Ireland has a Double Taxation Agreement or a Tax Information Exchange Agreement and where that person has not been tax resident in the State for at least five years. 

SARP relief can generally be claimed for a maximum period of five consecutive years, commencing with the year of first entitlement.  In line with tax expenditure guidelines, my Department is arranging for a full review of the incentive to be undertaken this year.

Finally, I have no plans for a skill-specific measure of the type mentioned by the Deputy.