Tax on Tobacco Products

Questions (174)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

174. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the estimated increase to a pack of cigarettes if an annual tax escalator of 5% and the rate of inflation was introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19552/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that if tax on a pack of 20 cigarettes was increased using an annual tax escalator of 5% and the rate of inflation of 1.1% (March 2019), the most popular price category of cigarettes priced at €13 would increase by €0.62.

Tax on Tobacco Products

Questions (175)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

175. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the estimated increase to roll-your-own tobacco if an annual tax escalator of 10% and the rate of inflation was introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19553/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that if tax on a 30g pack of roll-your-own tobacco was increased using an annual tax escalator of 10% and the rate of inflation of 1.1% (March 2019), a pack priced at €17 would increase by €1.55.

The Deputy may be interested to note that Revenue’s Ready Reckoner, available at www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/ready-reckoner/index.aspx, shows the tax yield that would arise from increases in Tobacco Products Tax.

Tax Strategy Group

Questions (176)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

176. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the timeframe for the publication of the tax strategy papers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19554/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Deputy will be aware that the Tax Strategy Group (TSG) is in place since the early 1990s and chaired by the Department of Finance with membership comprising senior officials and political advisers from a number of Civil Service Departments and Offices. Papers on various options for tax policy changes are prepared annually by officials. The TSG is not a decision-making body and the papers produced are simply a list of options and issues to be considered in the Budgetary process.

In line with the Government’s commitment to budgetary reform including greater engagement with the Oireachtas, the Tax Strategy Group papers are now published in advance of the Budget to facilitate informed discussion. It is my intention that publication of the Papers online will take place shortly after the annual meeting of the Tax Strategy Group and I would expect this to happen before the end of July.

Tax on Tobacco Products

Questions (177)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

177. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the estimated time for the tax rate on roll-your-own tobacco to reach equivalence with manufactured cigarettes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19555/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that if tax on roll-your-own tobacco was increased using an annual tax escalator of 10%, it would take approximately four years for the tax rate on roll-your-own tobacco to reach equivalence with cigarettes. That is providing there was no further increase in Tobacco Products Tax on cigarettes during that period.

Tax on Tobacco Products

Questions (178)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

178. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the cigarette production volumes in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the tobacco product tax receipts on fine cut tobacco since 2003, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19556/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the available information is in respect of the volumes of cigarettes on which Tobacco Products Tax is paid. The clearance data for cigarettes for the years 2003 to 2017 are published on the Revenue website at the following link:

www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/statistics/excise/excise-volumes-commodity.pdf.

The provisional clearances for 2018 and the period January to March 2019 are as follows:

Cigarettes Volume

000's

2018

1,763,336

2019 (3 Months)

748,773

The Tobacco Product Tax receipts on fine cut tobacco for the period 2003 to 2017 are published on the Revenue website at the following link:

www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/statistics/excise/excise-other-tobacco-products.pdf.

The provisional receipts for 2018 and the period January to March 2019 are as follows:

Fine Cut Tobacco

2018

93,851,859

2019 (3 Months)

27,433,684

Illicit Trade in Tobacco

Questions (179)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

179. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the status of actions taken as part of the WHO Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19560/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Overall responsibility for the WHO Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products rests with my colleague, the Minister for Health.  However, I am in a position to advise the Deputy on planned traceability and security feature systems intended to secure the supply chain of tobacco products, which is one of the key elements of the Protocol.  The EU Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU) was influenced by the Protocol and it provides for the introduction of a mandatory ‘traceability’ system alongside a ‘security feature’ system for tobacco products supplied on EU markets.  The traceability and security features (TSF) systems required by the Directive are to be in place by 20 May 2019 in respect of cigarettes and Roll-Your-Own tobacco, and by 20 May 2024 in respect of all other tobacco products.

The ‘traceability’ system requires that all tobacco products manufactured in, or imported into, the EU must be marked with what is referred to as a ‘unique identifier’.  The unique identifier will be scanned at each stage in the legitimate tobacco supply chain by the importer, wholesaler or distributor concerned using specialised equipment.  The EU Commission has noted that the data collated from this process will give an EU-wide picture of the quantity of tobacco products supplied to each member state market, up to the last point before retail sale.  All tobacco products will also, under the Directive, be required to carry a security feature which will verify the authenticity of the product concerned. 

The key developments to date in the implementation of TSF systems for tobacco products in Ireland are as follows:

- EU legislation in form of delegated and implementing acts specifying the measures to be implemented by Member States were adopted in May 2018.  The Department of Health and Revenue represented Ireland during the detailed technical work of finalising this legislation.

- In July 2018, the Government approved the appointment of Revenue as the competent authority for the implementation of TSF systems in Ireland.

- In September 2018, Revenue notified tobacco manufacturers and importers that the Irish tax stamp, used for the collection of tobacco excise on cigarettes and roll your own tobacco products, may be used as the ‘security feature’ for tobacco products under the TSF regime.   

- In March 2019, Revenue appointed Allexis s.r.o. as the ‘ID issuer’ for tobacco products in Ireland following an open procurement process.   The main functions of the ID issuer are to assign specific identifier codes to each economic operator involved in the tobacco supply chain and to generate unique identifiers for each individual tobacco product placed on the market.  The costs are borne by tobacco manufacturers and importers.  

- Revenue continues to work closely with the Department of Health, the EU Commission and other EU Member States on the introduction of TSF systems.  In addition, Revenue has consulted with manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retail bodies on the introduction of the TSF systems.  These consultations are necessary to ensure the smooth implementation of the TSF systems and to ensure continued efficient collection of tobacco excise receipts.  Revenue also maintains a contact and updates web page on its activities in this area on www.revenue.ie. 

Following the adoption of the relevant Directive in 2013, there was a delay of approximately three years before a satisfactory model for the TSF systems was agreed at EU level.  This has created challenges in meeting the start date of 20 May 2019 for the TSF systems across the EU.  Revenue has advised that notwithstanding this delay preparations are proceeding satisfactorily and that it will continue to work closely with the industry to ensure that the TSF systems are introduced on schedule.  It will take up to two months after 20 May 2019 before tobacco products which comply with the TSF regime enter Irish supply chains. It will be from that point that economic operators in Ireland will have to be registered with the ID Issuer in order to receive supplies of tobacco products.

VAT Exemptions

Questions (180)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

180. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the feasibility of including nicotine patches in the list of medicines which are zero rated for VAT; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19561/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Nicotine replacement patches are subject to the 23% standard rate of VAT.  It is not legally possible to apply the zero rate of VAT to nicotine patches.  Under EU VAT law the zero rate of VAT can only be applied to those goods and services which applied at that rate on and since 1 January 1991.  As nicotine patches did not apply at a zero rate in January 1991 it is not possible to apply the zero rate to them now.

However, the zero rate applies to oral medicines under this historical derogation.  Nicotine inhalers, tablets and chewing gum qualify for the zero-rate of VAT on this basis.

National Economic Dialogue

Question No. 182 answered with Question No. 117.

Questions (181)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

181. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance when the national economic dialogue will be held in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19732/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The National Economic Dialogue will take place on 26-27 June 2019.

The Dialogue will be an opportunity for stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds to consider how to optimise available resources in the interests of all citizens.

Question No. 182 answered with Question No. 117.

Appointments to State Boards

Questions (183)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

183. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if he has made appointments to a State board in the past three years in cases in which he has reappointed a person that has already served two full terms contrary to the advice in section 13.2 of the Guidelines on Appointments to State Boards; if so, the details and rationale for such appointments if relevant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19734/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

There are eight State Boards under the aegis of my Department. They are the Central Bank Commission, the Credit Union Restructuring Board, the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman, Home Building Finance Ireland, the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, the National Asset Management Agency, the National Treasury Management Agency and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland. For seven of these Boards, there has been no appointment in the past three years of persons who have already served two full terms.  

The Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) was established on 1 January 2018. Under the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017, a member of the Council shall hold office for such period not exceeding five years from the date of his or her appointment as the Minister for Finance may determine. On the establishment day, the Financial Services Ombudsman’s Bureau, the Financial Services Ombudsman Council and the office of the Pensions Ombudsman were dissolved.  All functions that, immediately prior to the establishment day, were vested in the Financial Services Ombudsman or the Pensions Ombudsman were transferred, on and from the establishment day, to the FSPO.

 Following a competition conducted by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) in 2016 in line with the Guidelines for Appointments to State Boards, four candidates were appointed to the Financial Services Ombudsman Council, each for a five-year term effective from 9 January 2017. One of these candidates, Mr Dermot Jewell, had already served as a member of the Council since 2004 and was reappointed in line with Section 13.1 of the Guidelines which states:

“The selection of the candidates to appoint from the list is solely and exclusively a matter for the relevant Minister in light of the objectives of the revised appointments system to ensure that State Boards have an appropriate mix of the experience, knowledge and skills to successfully oversee the performance of the Board’s functions.”

One further successful candidate appointed from the 2016 PAS competition, Ms Elizabeth Walsh, had been a serving member of the Financial Services Ombudsman Council. Ms Walsh was appointed to the Council in 2013 for a two-year term or until the merger of the Financial Services Ombudsman with the Pensions Ombudsman had been completed, whichever was the sooner. As the FSPO was ultimately established in January 2018, Ms Walsh was reappointed for a further term in 2015 prior to her successful candidacy in the 2016 competition.

The seven existing Council members, including those appointed from the 2016 competition,  remained in place to serve on the board of the FSPO following the amalgamation of the Financial Services Ombudsman and the Pensions Ombudsman.

Social Welfare Benefits Payments

Questions (184)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

184. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Finance the social welfare payments that are subject to tax and exempt from tax, respectively in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19791/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Social welfare payments are exempt from USC and PRSI. With certain exceptions social welfare payments are subject to taxation.

Section 126 (6A) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (TCA), as amended by the Finance Act 2018, sets out certain of those social welfare payments which are exempted from income tax, as follow:

 "A payment which is -

(a)described in column (1) of the Table to this section,

(b)paid on the basis specified in column (2) of that Table, and

(c)made by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection to an individual on or after 1 January 2019,

shall be exempt from income tax and shall not be reckoned in computing income for the purposes of the Income Tax Acts.

Description of payment

Basis on which payment is made

Basic supplementary welfare allowance

Section 189 of the Act of 2005. (The Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005.)

Back to education allowance

A payment made under a scheme administered by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and known as ‘Back to education   allowance’

Back to work enterprise allowance

A payment made under a scheme administered by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and known as ‘Back to work   enterprise allowance’

Back to school clothing and footwear allowance

A payment made under a scheme administered by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and known as ‘Back to school   clothing and footwear allowance’

Carer’s support grant

Section 225 of the Act of 2005

Constant attendance allowance

Section 78 of the Act of 2005

Death benefit -  funeral expenses

Section 84 of the Act of 2005

Death benefit - orphans

Section 83 of the Act of 2005

Direct provision allowance

A payment made under a scheme administered by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and known as ‘Direct provision   allowance’

Disability allowance

Section 210 of the Act of 2005

Disablement gratuity

Section 75(8) of the Act of 2005

Domiciliary care allowance

Section 186F of the Act of 2005

Exceptional needs payment

Section 201 of the Act of 2005

Farm assist

Section 214 of the Act of 2005

Fuel allowance

A payment made under a scheme administered by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and known as ‘Fuel allowance’

Guardian’s payment (contributory)

Section 130 of the Act of 2005

Guardian’s payment (non-contributory)

Section 168 of the Act of 2005

Household benefit package

A payment made under a scheme administered by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and known as ‘Household benefit   package’

Humanitarian assistance payment

A payment made under a scheme administered by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and known as ‘Humanitarian assistance payment’

Jobseeker’s allowance

Section 141 of the Act of 2005

Jobseeker’s transitional payment

Section 148A of the Act of 2005

Medical care

Section 86 of the Act of 2005

Part-time job incentive scheme

A payment made under a scheme administered by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and known as ‘Part-time job   incentive scheme’

Rent allowance

Section 23 of the Housing (Private Rented Dwellings) Act 1982

Supplementary welfare allowance

Section 198 of the Act of 2005

Telephone support allowance

A payment made under a scheme administered by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and known as ‘Telephone support   allowance’

Training support grant

A payment made under a scheme administered by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and known as ‘Training support grant’

Urgent needs payment

Section 202 of the Act of 2005

Widowed or surviving civil partner grant

Section 137 of the Act of 2005

Working family payment

Section 228 of the Act of 2005

Youth employment support scheme

A payment made under a scheme administered by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and known as ‘Youth employment   support scheme’

In addition to the payments set out in the table above, there are specific other exemptions provided for in the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. These specific exemptions are as follow:

Child Benefit (exempt under section 194 TCA).

The Back to Work Family Dividend (exempt under section 194B TCA).

Jobseekers Benefit payable to a person in systematic short-time employment (exempt under section 126 (3)(c) TCA ).

The first €13 per week of the aggregate of the amounts of Jobseekers Benefit payable to an unemployed person (Section 126 (4) TCA).

Any element of  Illness, Jobseekers Benefit, Injury Benefit or Pay-Related Benefit payments which relate to amounts in respect of dependent children Section 126 (3) (a) TCA .

Money Laundering

Questions (185)

Joan Burton

Question:

185. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of suspicious transaction reports that have been made to the Revenue Commissioners on an annual basis in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the role of the Revenue Commissioners in combatting money laundering; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19941/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the numbers of suspicious transactions reports (STRs) received from designated bodies, including financial institutions, under the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Funding) Act 2010, in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to the end of April this year, are set out in the following table.

Year

No. of STRs Received

2014

18,149

2015

21,358

2016

22,607

2017

24,232

2018

23,422

2019 (to end April)

7,390

I am advised also that the acts of money laundering and terrorist financing are not Revenue offences and that Revenue is not the competent authority to investigate such offences. Under the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010, An Garda Síochána is the relevant body with responsibility for investigating offences of this kind.  

Tax evasion is viewed as a predicate offence for money laundering, and I am advised that Revenue contributes to the national imperative of countering money laundering and terrorist financing by, inter alia:

Reducing the opportunity for tax evasion,

Countering the activities of those involved in drug smuggling, cigarette smuggling, alcohol smuggling, fuel laundering and Intellectual Property Rights fraud,

Supporting those agencies directly involved in the investigation of money laundering and terrorist financing,

Cooperating with An Garda Síochána and the Criminal Assets Bureau, including the provision of key personnel with specific investigative and operational skills to the Criminal Assets Bureau,

Maintaining well-developed links between the Garda Financial Intelligence Unit and Revenue’s Suspicious Transaction Unit,

Participating in Working Groups such as the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Steering Committee under the aegis of the Department of Finance; and 

Engaging with designated bodies at conferences and industry fora to communicate best practice for Money Laundering Reporting Officers (MLRO).

Customs and Excise Staff

Questions (186)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

186. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Finance his plans to increase the number of customs officers in County Cork in the context of Brexit. [20023/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

In September 2018, the Public Appointments Service (PAS) ran a competition to establish panels from which Clerical Officers (CO) would be assigned to Customs Trade Facilitation posts in Revenue. The specific locations for assignments from this competition were Dublin, Rosslare and Cork.  Interviews for the positions, which attracted over 3,000 applications, began in October 2018.  Following interviews, panels were established for all these locations.  

Revenue is an integrated tax and customs administration, and resources are deployed based on evolving business needs and in response to risk.  While no assignments have been made from the panel established for Cork at this time, candidates may be called from the panel as critical posts arise during the panel’s lifetime.

Tax Reliefs Availability

Questions (187)

Michael McGrath

Question:

187. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position on recognising and using losses from a CGT perspective on the sale by a person of residential properties; the difference in the treatment if the purchaser is a family member of the vendor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20026/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that losses which arise on the sale by a person of residential properties to a person who is not a member of the vendor’s family can be offset against gains made by that person in the year in which the sale took place or in a subsequent year. 

Where a loss arises on the sale of a property by a person to a family member, relief for the loss is only allowable against a chargeable gain on a disposal by that person of an asset to the same person.

Betting Regulations

Questions (188)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

188. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance his views on recent meetings with representatives from a company (details supplied) on the recently revised rate of betting tax and the Gambling Control Bill 2018 [20037/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I and my officials have had a number of meetings with a broad range of representatives from the betting industry since the budget increase in betting tax, including with those named by the Deputy. The representatives have been informed that my officials will set out analysis and options in relation to betting duty in the Tax Strategy Group paper. 

As is the normal course, betting duty will be given further consideration in the next budget and in that context my decision will be informed by the outcome of the review into the alternative proposal put forward by the betting sector as well, of course, as important considerations which I have set out on numerous occasions, namely the need for betting firms to make a fair contribution to the Exchequer and the need to acknowledge and address the negative externalities arising from the serious issue of problem gambling.

Customs and Excise Protocols

Questions (189)

Michael McGrath

Question:

189. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if there is a format that needs to be used by a shipping company in charging the appropriate amount of customs duty including an obligation to provide a detailed written statement in the context of the application of customs to an Irish company importing products from a third country; the recourse the company has if it is not satisfied with the amount charged or the quality of the documentation if has been provided with in order to reclaim a VAT charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20066/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that when goods are imported into the European Union, a customs declaration is presented electronically to Revenue by the importer or by their customs agent. Based on the information contained in that declaration, the relevant taxes and customs duties are calculated automatically. Customs Duty is harmonised throughout the European Union and is charged on the customs value of the goods i.e. the price paid for the goods plus shipping, packaging and insurance costs to the place where the goods first entered the EU. Further information on this is available on the Revenue website at www.revenue.ie/en/customs-traders-and-agents/documents/import-procedures-guide.pdf

Where an importer disputes the rate of duty charged, the Union Customs Code (UCC) provides a mechanism for them to appeal the charge. Revenue’s Designated Appeals Officers manage the Customs appeals and make a determination based on the details of the case.   

VAT is chargeable at the same rate as applies to the sale within Ireland of similar goods.  A VAT registered trader is entitled to take a deduction in their VAT return, including VAT incurred on import.

Where the importer is not satisfied with the documentation provided by the shipping company, the onus is on the importer to resolve this with the shipping company concerned based on the commercial contract entered into between them.

Tax Reliefs Availability

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]

View answer

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.

Tax Rebates

Questions (191)

Robert Troy

Question:

191. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance if tax rebates are available for completion of a house that never finished construction and was never occupied. [18853/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that no tax rebates are available in the circumstances mentioned by the Deputy.  The only residential property relief currently in operation which provides rebates of Income Tax is the Help to Buy (HTB) scheme.  For an individual to obtain relief under the HTB scheme for a residential property he or she has built or bought, the property must be newly built with the construction cost subject to VAT in Ireland.

The HTB scheme is designed to provide income tax relief to assist first-time buyers with obtaining the deposit required to purchase or build their first home.

Broadly, the relief takes the form of a refund of income tax, including deposit interest retention tax (DIRT), paid over the 4 tax years prior to making an application for the refund.  It is open to HTB claimants to select any or all of the previous 4 tax years for the purposes of calculating the HTB refund.  The maximum refund is the lowest of –

- €20,000,

- the total income tax and DIRT paid in the previous 4 years, or

- 5% of the purchase price, or valuation in the case of a self-build, up to a maximum of €500,000 (a €600,000 maximum applied where, in the period from 19 July 2016 to 31 December 2016, a contract for the purchase of a new house was entered into, or in the case of a self-build, the first tranche of a qualifying loan was drawn down by the claimant.

The HTB scheme provides for the registration of building contactors with Revenue for participation in the scheme and for claw-back of tax relief given in certain circumstances. The scheme applies where, in the period from 19 July 2016 to 31 December 2019, an individual enters into a contract with a qualifying contractor for the purchase of a qualifying residence or has drawn down the first tranche of a qualifying loan in respect of the individual’s self-build qualifying residence.

While the rebate of Income Tax may be paid, upon claim, after the date of signing of the contract or, in the case of a self-build property, after the first tranche of the mortgage is drawdown from the lender, there are a number of conditions under which a clawback of relief can arise. Revenue can claw back refunds if:

- the individual was not entitled to the refund,

- the individual does not live in the property for a minimum of 5 years,

- the individual did not finish the process to buy the property, or

- the individual did not finish building the property.

Additionally, Revenue can claw back refunds from the contractor if:

- the property is not bought by the individual within 2 years from when the refund was made to the contractor, or

- Revenue has reasonable grounds to believe that the property will not be bought by the individual within that 2-year period.

There is some flexibility around the 2-year period if Revenue is satisfied that the property is either almost complete at the end of the 2 years or likely to be completed within a reasonable time period.

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

Questions (192, 193, 194, 195, 196, 202, 206)

Mary Butler

Question:

192. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to have a meeting with community employment supervisors as part of the high level forum discussion on gratuities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18458/19]

View answer

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

193. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a pension scheme will be introduced for community employment supervisors (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18566/19]

View answer

Peter Burke

Question:

194. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the provision of pensions for community employment supervisors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18591/19]

View answer

Peter Burke

Question:

195. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the availability of capital for the provision of pensions for community employment supervisors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18592/19]

View answer

Noel Rock

Question:

196. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will be engaging with the high level forum (details supplied) to deal with the ongoing issue of the pension claim by community employment supervisors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18829/19]

View answer

James Browne

Question:

202. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will consider meeting a union regarding a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19421/19]

View answer

Brendan Griffin

Question:

206. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on a matter concerning community employment supervisors (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19968/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 192 to 196, inclusive, 202 and 206 together.

This issue relates to a claim by community employment supervisors and assistant supervisors who have been seeking, through their union representatives, the allocation of Exchequer funding to implement a 2008 Labour Court recommendation relating to the provision of a pension scheme.

The matter was the subject of extensive discussion at the Community Sector High Level Forum which was reconvened to examine certain issues pertaining to the Community Employment sector and in particular to ensure that the matter was fully examined having regard to both costs and precedent. The implications arising from this claim extend beyond the CE Supervisors and Assistant Supervisors cadre and impact across the entire Community and Voluntary sector.

A detailed scoping exercise was carried out by my Department in 2017 in order to comprehensively examine and assess the full potential implications of the issues under consideration.

The scoping exercise clearly illustrated that this matter presents very significant issues for the Exchequer, with a potential cost exposure for the State of between €188 million per annum and €347m depending on the size of the sector which is difficult to ascertain, were consequential demands to be made to fund employer pension contributions for all similar State funded Community and Voluntary organisations. This excludes any provision for immediate ex-gratia lump sum payment of pension for those imminently retiring, as sought, which could, depending on the size of the sector, give rise to a further Exchequer cost exposure of up to €318 million.

The Forum met in the period subsequent to the conduct of the scoping exercise where relevant matters in respect of this issue were discussed in comprehensive detail with the members of the Forum. These discussions provided a clear understanding to each of the parties of their respective positions in relation to this matter and in this context the formal engagement process between the parties was accordingly concluded on this basis.

It continues to be the position that state organisations are not the employer of the particular employees concerned and accordingly it is not for the State to provide funding for occupational pension scheme provision.

Public Health Assessments

Questions (197)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

197. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a public health assessment has been carried out in advance of the installation of 5G technology at Buncrana Garda station; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19260/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland (CPW) grant licences to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) who hold a Mobile Telecommunications Licence to provide Mobile Telephone Services.  The  MNOs are required at all times to comply with all the conditions contained in their ComReg licence to operate on State property.

A standard licence agreement sets out the terms and conditions under which mobile phone operators are permitted to locate on OPW property. The terms of the licence governs access, maintenance, insurance, termination, compliance with relevant legislation such as planning health and safety etc. 

All licenced mobile phone operators are required to comply with all legal requirements relating to the use of mobile telephony equipment and ancillary equipment in Ireland and in particular, the Wireless Telegraphy Regulations 2002 and 2003, the Health and Safety and Welfare at Work Act 1989 and the Radiological Protection Act 1991.  There is also a requirement to comply with all relevant Health and Safety Acts and operate within current standards and guidelines of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and E.U. regulations; in particularly, those in relation to radiological emission levels for occupiers of the premises and adjoining property.

The Commissioners have recently granted a licence to an MNO for the installation of 3G and 4G technologies at Buncrana Garda Station. I understand from my officials that the Commissioners do not currently propose to install 5G technology at Buncrana Garda Station.

Home Loan Scheme

Questions (198)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

198. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when funding will be made available for the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19291/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan launched on 1 February 2018. Prior to its launch, an initial tranche of €200 million of long-term fixed-rate finance was borrowed by the Housing Finance Agency to provide funds for the scheme to local authorities. 

When the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan was initially being developed it was estimated that the drawdown of loans under the scheme would be approximately €200 million over three years. From the data collated on the scheme to date, it is clear that there has been a greater demand for the RIHL than initially anticipated, as a result of which, the scheme would require a further tranche of funds to be borrowed by the HFA if it is to continue. The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has requested sanction for additional funding for the scheme.

Further to that request, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government are concluding an internal review of the scheme. Further details on the review can be obtained from my colleague, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. In conjunction with this review, the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform are also nearing a conclusion in their discussions with both the Central Bank of Ireland and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government with regard to the future of the scheme. Once this has been completed, the Minister for Housing will be in a position to make a statement on the scheme.