Tax Yield

Questions (57, 58, 59)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

57. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the estimated revenue that would be raised from the introduction of a wealth tax of 0.5%, 1% and 2%, respectively, on assets of €1 million in value and above with no exemptions in tabular form. [22474/19]

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Pearse Doherty

Question:

58. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the estimated revenue that would be raised from the introduction of a wealth tax of 0.5%, 1% and 2%, respectively, on assets of €1 million in value and above with an exemption of €250,000 per child in tabular form. [22475/19]

View answer

Pearse Doherty

Question:

59. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the estimated revenue that would be raised from the introduction of a wealth tax of 0.5%, 1% and 2%, respectively, on assets of €1 million in value and above with exemptions for farmers in tabular form. [22476/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 to 59, inclusive, together.

As outlined to the Deputy in previous PQs (including PQ's 21932/19, 21933/19, 21934/19 & 21935/19, answered on 21 May), in order to estimate the potential revenue from a wealth tax, it is necessary to identify the wealth held by individuals. As there is currently no such wealth tax in operation in Ireland, the Department understands that the Revenue Commissioners have no basis or requirement to compile the data needed to produce estimates in relation to a potential wealth tax. Although an individual's assets and liabilities are declared to the Revenue in a number of specific circumstances (for example, after a death), this information is not a complete measure of assets and liabilities in the State, nor is it recorded in a manner that would allow analysis of the implications of an overarching wealth based tax.

However, in 2013 the Central Statistics Office conducted the first comprehensive survey of household wealth in Ireland (the Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS)). The survey provides information on the ownership and values of different types of assets and liabilities along with more general information on income, employment and household composition.

During 2016, my Department, jointly with the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), conducted a research project into the distribution of wealth in Ireland and the potential implications of a wealth tax using the HFCS. The research formed part of an on-going joint-research programme with the ESRI on the Macro-Economy and Taxation. The research paper, available on the ESRI website, presented results on the composition of wealth across both the wealth and income distributions in Ireland. A number of wealth tax scenarios were then applied to the Irish data (wealth tax regimes from other jurisdictions and hypothetical scenarios). In each case, the associated tax bases and revenue yields, the number of liable households across the income distribution, and the characteristics of the households affected are outlined. While the scenarios do not fully capture the parameters outlined in the questions the Deputy may find them informative.

In order to estimate the yield from a tax with the precise parameters as outlined in the Deputy's questions, it would be necessary to seek the agreement of the CSO to revisit its original survey data for this specified purpose. This would be a significant undertaking that would take considerable time and resources to complete. It is also noted that the HFCS does not include specific data on the global assets for those domiciled or ordinarily resident and the domestic assets for those resident for tax purposes. As such, any estimate on the yield obtained from HFCS data would not fully capture the parameters outlined in the Deputy's question. It is therefore not possible for me to provide the revenue estimate sought in each of these three PQ's.

Help-To-Buy Scheme Eligibility

Questions (60)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

60. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if the definition of "first-time buyer" for the purposes of the help-to-buy scheme is planned to cover cases in which a person has previously legally purchased a home but never held a beneficial interest in it, such as in a case in which the person acted as a trustee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22479/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Help to Buy incentive, introduced with effect from 1 January 2017, is a scheme to assist first-time purchasers with the deposit they need to buy or build a new house or apartment. The incentive gives a refund of Income Tax and Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) paid in Ireland over the previous four years, subject to limits outlined in the legislation.

Section 477C of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 outlines the definitions and conditions that apply to the Help to Buy scheme. A claimant under the scheme must make an application confirming they meet various conditions specified in the section, including that they are a first-time purchaser and that they have completed a tax return form and are tax compliant for each of the tax years for which a claim is being made. The obligations apply to each party, where there is more than one party to a claim.

The definition of “first-time purchaser” for the purposes of the scheme is an individual who, at the time of making a claim under the scheme, has not, either individually or jointly with any other person, previously purchased or previously built, directly or indirectly, on his or her own behalf a dwelling. The “qualifying residence” must be occupied as the sole or main residence of the first-time purchaser.

I am advised by Revenue that in the circumstances raised by the Deputy, where a person had previously legally purchased a home but never held a beneficial interest in the home, the full facts of the case would have to be established to determine if, at the time of the claim, the individual met the definition of “first-time purchaser” outlined above. Revenue advise me that this type of claim would need to be examined on a case by case basis. In cases where an individual had previously acted as a trustee to purchase a dwelling, the terms of the trust would have a bearing on the position. If it were determined that an individual would be a “first-time purchaser” for the purposes of the help to buy scheme, then the individual concerned may qualify for the relief if the other conditions for the incentive are met.

If the Deputy has a specific case in mind, he may wish to send full details of the case to Revenue to determine the position on qualification for the incentive.

Brexit Data

Questions (61)

Michael McGrath

Question:

61. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of businesses that have applied for the key customs registration, the economic operators registration and identification number; the number of Irish businesses with such a registration; the turnaround time for the Revenue Commissioners to process a registration application; the number of Irish businesses the Revenue Commissioners estimate will require such a registration in the course of its normal business after 31 October 2019 in the event of a disorderly Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22619/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Revenue has indicated that there has been a significant increase in registrations for Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) numbers year on year. An EORI number is the minimum requirement for businesses that wish to trade with, or through, the UK following their departure from the EU.

Details of the number of EORI registrations applied for and issued since 2017 is as follows:

Year

Number of EORI Registrations

2017

2,595

2018

2,976

2019 to date*

6,387

Once a business is registered with the Revenue Online Service (ROS), the turnaround time for Revenue to process an EORI number application is approximately 3 minutes.

I am advised by Revenue that following an analysis of the VAT Information Exchange System (VIES) data, they identified approximately 84,000 businesses who traded with the UK in 2017. In 2018 Revenue wrote to approximately 62,000 within this group who had not registered for an EORI number and advised them of the requirement to register for an EORI number if they intended to trade with, or through, the UK post-Brexit.

The number of businesses that currently hold an EORI number since the introduction of the requirement in 2009 is 46,432*.

*figures reflect up to 20 May 2019.

Universal Social Charge Abolition

Questions (62)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

62. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Finance his plans to reduce or abolish the universal social charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22640/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

An inter-departmental working group was established in February 2018 to examine and report on options for the amalgamation of USC and PRSI over the medium-term. The working group completed their work, in line with their terms of reference and their report was submitted to me in late 2018. Follow-on decisions will be taken in due course and I will make these public at the appropriate time.

More generally, the Government is committed to measures that positively benefit workers while also keeping the tax base broad.

Our income tax system has been transformed since 2008, following a necessary reform to broaden the income tax base in the interest of ensuring a stable revenue stream to fund essential public services.

I am determined to balance the priorities of ensuring that our personal taxation system remains progressive, competitive but also resilient in the future.

This is why we have been introducing targeted changes to the income tax system within available resources to make steady and sustainable progress in reducing the income tax burden, focusing on low and middle income earners. This has been done by making targeted changes to the USC and also by increasing the entry point to the higher rate of income tax.

Tax Reliefs Eligibility

Questions (63)

Michael McGrath

Question:

63. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will address a matter regarding the normal place of work for a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22657/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Deputy is seeking clarity regarding the term “normal place of work” in the context of the eligibility of a person to claim income tax relief in respect of the expenses of business mileage from their home, which the person regards as their normal place of work. The person in question has the use of a company car and spends a small percentage of their working time working at their employer’s head office and the rest of their working time working in the field and from home.

I am advised by Revenue where an employee uses his/her private car for business purposes, and he/she incurs the total cost of such usage (for example, insurance, tax, running costs), then the reimbursement in respect of the cost of business use of the car can be made free of tax by the employer by reference to either a flat rate per kilometre allowance (i.e. prevailing civil service “mileage rates”) or actual costs incurred. However, in this instance, the employee in question is provided with the use of a company car and, in such circumstances, an income tax benefit in kind charge in respect of the use of the vehicle may arise for the employee. Where an employee is obliged to personally incur some of the running costs (e.g. fuel), the benefit in kind charge is reduced accordingly. Further guidance on the charge to benefit in kind on the provision of a car to an employee may be found on Revenue’s website.

It is not clear from the information provided whether the person concerned intends to claim business mileage expenses from his/her employer or to make a claim for income tax relief in respect of the expenses to Revenue. In addition, the exact nature and circumstances of his/her working arrangements and requirements are not clear. Although it is not possible for Revenue to express a view on the “normal place of work” in this specific case having regard to the information furnished by the Deputy, Revenue has advised that the person concerned has made direct contact with them on this query. Revenue will follow up the query with the person and, subject to receipt of further information, will advise them of their tax entitlements regarding motoring expenses.

VAT Rate Application

Questions (64)

Michael McGrath

Question:

64. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the appropriate VAT treatment of car wash and valeting services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22745/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the VAT rating of goods and services is subject to EU VAT law, with which Irish VAT law must comply. In accordance with Irish VAT legislation, car wash and valeting services are liable to VAT at the reduced rate, currently 13.5%.

European Council Meetings

Questions (65)

Seán Haughey

Question:

65. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Finance If he had bilateral meetings with his counterparts at the most recent meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22865/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

At the last meeting of the Eurogroup and the Economic and Financial Affairs Council on 16-17 May I met my French counterpart, Minister Bruno Le Maire. We discussed the proposed Budgetary Instrument for Competitiveness and Convergence (BICC) and the current state of play on Brexit.

I also had a bilateral meeting with Commissioner Moscovici and discussed the semester process with him.

Liquor Licence Data

Questions (66)

Peter Burke

Question:

66. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Finance the number and percentage of pubs and bars in each of the six licence bands in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22866/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that 7,922 Excise Liquor Licences were issued in 2018. The number and percentage of licences that issued for each of the six Licence Bands are set out in the following table.

Turnover Bands

Number of Licenses

%

Band 1 – Under €190,500

3,923

49.5%

Band 2 - €190,500 - €380,999

1,862

23.5%

Band 3 - €381,000 - €634,999

881

11.1%

Band 4 - €635,000 - €952,499

499

6.3%

Band 5 - €952,500 - €1,269,999

291

3.7%

Band 6 - €1,270,000 or more

466

5.9%

Grand Total

7,922

100.0%

Garda Stations

Questions (67)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Question:

67. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the date for the opening of Ballinspittle Garda station; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22379/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The Programme for Government included for the reopening of a number of closed Garda Stations (6) throughout the country, including Ballinspittle Garda Station, Co. Cork. OPW is currently completing the tender documents for the necessary works at this Station. Tenders will be invited over the coming weeks following which the tenders will be assessed and a contract awarded. It is expected that the works will be completed and the building ready for handover to An Garda Síochána by the end of the year.

The opening of the Garda Station is an operational matter for An Garda Síochána.

Public Sector Staff Retirements

Questions (68, 77)

Hildegarde Naughton

Question:

68. Deputy Hildegarde Naughton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when the report under section 3A(6) of the Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018 will be finalised and published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22772/19]

View answer

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

77. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a person (details supplied) is entitled to extend a period of employment under the Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018. [22783/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 68 and 77 together.

On 5 December 2017, the Government made the decision to increase the compulsory retirement age to 70, for public servants recruited prior to 1 April 2004. Primary legislation was necessary in order to bring that change into effect. It was made clear at the time that until such legislation was enacted, the compulsory retirement age of 65, which applied to the vast majority of this cohort, remained in effect and pre-2004 public servants reaching that age would be required to retire.

Interim arrangements were provided for the cohort of public servants who reached their compulsory retirement age of 65 after the Government Decision because, while they would be aware of the Government’s decision, they would be unable to avail of it. Those arrangements permitted these individuals to be rehired post-retirement for a period of 1 year until they reached the age of eligibility for the State Pension (Contributory). Without that specific arrangement, they would have been required to cease working on reaching the age of 65.

The Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018 was enacted on 26 December 2018. Under the Act, any relevant public servant who had not already reached their compulsory retirement age of 65 before that date has a new compulsory retirement age of 70. Enactment of the legislation had no effect on those public servants who retired at 65 prior to the 26 December 2018 and who availed of a one year contract under the interim arrangements. The terms of their contracts continue to apply and they will cease working when they reach the age of 66.

Section 3 of the 2018 Act also provides that I, as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, within three months of the passing of the Act, would prepare and lay before the Oireachtas a report on the public servants who were forced to retire between 6 December 2017 and the commencement of the Act, due to reaching the age of 65 years, and on potential remedies to assist this cohort of worker. This Report was laid before the Oireachtas on 26 March 2019 and is publicly available on the www.gov.ie website and in the Oireachtas Library online catalogue.

Having considered all of the issues outlined in the Report, I am satisfied that the interim arrangements were an appropriate temporary policy response at the time of the Government Decision, pending enactment of the legislation. The terms of those arrangements were clear, unambiguous and made known to those who availed of them. Accordingly, for the reasons set out in the report, I do not propose to make any changes to those terms.

Pension Provisions

Questions (69)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

69. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 197 of 2 October 2018, when the new guidance on the implementation of sections 52(6) and (7) of the 2012 Act will be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22290/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I would advise the Deputy that for the purposes of preparing the new guidance on the implementation of section 52(6) and (7) of the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and other Provisions) Act 2012, referred to in my answer to Parliamentary Question No. 197 of 2 October 2018, my Department has carried out a review into the operation of those provisions. As part of the review, it is now considered necessary to seek further legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General. Once that advice has been received, and considered, my Department should be in a position to issue the new guidance for the attention of all public service pension administrators. I am hopeful that this process can be completed within a matter of months.

Garda Station Refurbishment

Questions (70)

Seán Fleming

Question:

70. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount the OPW spent on the refurbishment of Garda stations in the Laois Garda division in 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22315/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I can confirm the Office of Public Works have undertaken works relating to refurbishment, renovation or maintenance of facilities in twelve Garda Stations in County Laois in 2018/19. Details are included below and incorporate works funded by both the Office of Public Works and An Garda Síochána.

Garda Station

Description of current/planned works.

2018 €

2019 (to 21/05/19) €

Durrow GS

General maintenance works, Roof repair

2,845.15

482.38

Mountmellick GS

General maintenance works, Install power points, Replacement of doors

9,194.81

1,518.72

Rathdowney GS

General maintenance works

644.18

968.03

Stradbally GS

General maintenance works, Shower repair, Replace door, Exterior maintenance works

13,136.89

5,764.03

Borris-in-Ossory GS

General maintenance works, Refurbishment including Dry lining, Plastering, Wiring, Flooring, Shower/toilet facility

80,324.77

-

Ballylinan GS

Asbestos Survey

676.50

-

Portlaoise GS

General maintenance works, Emergency lighting, Repair gutter, Repair flat roof, Repairs to plaster, Pot holes. *Preparation for planned refurbishment including Ramp, Removal of raised beds, Temporary accommodation, Tree pruning, M&E Consultancy, Groundworks

55,258.34

158,431.17

Arles GS

Asbestos Survey

676.50

-

Mountrath GS

General maintenance works, Install data points

1,504.02

124.85

Abbeyleix GS

General maintenance works, Asbestos Survey

2,852.52

958.27

Clonaslee GS

General maintenance works

830.39

934.97

Portarlington GS

General maintenance works, Replace broken lights, Shower repairs, Security gate repairs

14,293.86

996.56

Total

182,237.93

170,178.98

*Refurbishment of Portlaoise Garda Station is currently at Design Stage. Some preparatory works are underway.

Flooding Data

Questions (71)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Question:

71. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the measures in place funded by the OPW to address flooding and coastal erosion in the south-west areas of County Cork; the projects in this regard; the value of each project; if there are projects with his Department; the value of such projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22375/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Government has provided €1 billion for investment in flood risk management measures over the coming decade. The details of this investment were announced by Minister Moran with Mr. Leo Varadkar TD, An Taoiseach on 3rd May 2018, at the launch of the Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMPs). These Plans are the output from the largest study of flood risk ever undertaken by the State, through the Office of Public Works’ (OPW) Catchment-based Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme.

The FRMPs set out the strategic plan to tackle flood risk, with outline design for schemes. While the specific project costs are not available until the procurement for each scheme is complete, the FRMPs did include some preliminary indicative potential costs and these are available on the OPW website, www.floodinfo.ie.

For schemes which are currently at construction, and following a competitive tendering process for each project, the OPW and Cork County Council are working with project consultants on the following projects: Bandon (estimated cost €28.4m) – currently at construction stage and is due to be substantially complete by July 2019, Skibbereen (estimated cost €34.5m) – currently at construction stage and due to be substantially complete in June 2019, and Clonakilty (estimated cost €24.1m) – currently at construction stage and expected to be completed in 2020.

At this time the OPW and Local Authorities have established Steering Groups to develop additional schemes to detailed design, planning and construction through procurement frameworks that were put in place ahead of the launch in 2018. The OPW and Local Authorities will, as part of the ten- year programme of investment, continue to establish Steering Groups as capacity becomes available, for those other schemes identified by the FRMPs.

In that regard, the Steering Group has been established to develop the Bantry Flood Relief Scheme, which is estimated to cost €6.6m, to detailed design and construction. A further five proposed schemes have been identified by the CFRAM programme; namely Ballingeary, Castletown-Bearhaven, Inchigeelagh, Inishannon and Schull. These are not in the first tranche of projects to be progressed, but the OPW and Cork County Council will work closely to ensure that they will be commenced as soon as possible within the 10 year timeframe for the programme of investment.

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has overall responsibility for Government policy on coastal strategy. Local Authorities lead on identifying works to protect the coast in their respective areas.

The primary objective of Government policy on coastal protection is to ensure that, in areas identified as being at greatest risk of damage or loss of economic assets through coastal flooding, Local Authorities identify appropriate and sustainable measures to protect those assets. Where defence measures are economically justified and compatible with all required environmental and other statutory requirements, they can be implemented, subject to the availability of resources.

Where necessary, Local Authorities may put forward proposals to relevant central Government Departments, including the OPW, for funding of appropriate measures, depending on the infrastructure or assets under threat.

Further to that, my Office, through the Minor Flood Mitigation Works & Coastal Protection Scheme, provides a funding mechanism to support works to protect coastal communities, particularly those at risk from flooding. This Scheme provides funding to Local Authorities to undertake minor flood mitigation or coastal protection works or studies, costing less than €0.75 million each, to address localised flooding and coastal protection problems within their administrative areas. A full list of funding approvals since 2009 under this Scheme is available at:

www.opw.ie/en/flood-risk-management/operations/minorfloodworkscoastalprotectionscheme/.

Waterways Issues

Questions (72)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

72. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the sluice gates at Ardcanaught, Castlemaine, County Kerry, will be inspected (details supplied). [22420/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Remedial repair works were carried out by the Office of Public Works on the 20th May 2019 to the sluice at Ardcanaught, Castlemaine, Co. Kerry. The sluice is now fully operational again.

Office of Public Works Properties

Questions (73)

James Browne

Question:

73. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the OPW will consider transferring the ownership of a building to an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22507/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I am advised by the Commissioners of Public Works that there are no plans, at this time, to transfer the property to another public body.

Following the closure of the Garda station on Roche’s Road, Wexford on the 22nd September 2017 the Office of Public Works (OPW) sought alternative State use for the property.

There is no Central Government requirement for accommodation in the former Garda Station and no alternative State requirement for the property has materialised following engagement with Wexford County Council, the Health Service Executive and Tusla.

The OPW had agreed to enter into a lease arrangement with the Wexford Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Service for the part of the property known as the Sergeant's quarters as the main building was too big for their requirements. However, the Wexford Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Service advised the OPW on the 19th February 2019 that they were to be provided with alternative accommodation in Wexford and no longer required the Sergeant’s Quarters.

Wexford Community Services Council also known as St. Brigid’s Day Care Centre who currently occupy the adjoining property have also expressed an interest in acquiring the former Garda station property. They are currently carrying out a review of the property to establish if it can meet their needs and if acquiring the property, given the costs of refurbishment, would be feasible.

If Wexford Community Services Council/ St. Brigid’s Day Care Centre decide that they wish to proceed with acquiring the property and can satisfy the Commissioners of Public Works (CPW) that they are in a sound financial position to carry out substantial refurbishment works and maintain the property on an ongoing basis, the CPW will consider entering into a lease arrangement.

If the Wexford Community Services Council/ St. Brigid’s Day Care Centre decide not to proceed with acquiring the property, the OPW will again establish if there is any alternative State use for the property prior to disposing of it on the open market.