Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Questions (31)

Pearse Doherty


31. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance when the review of betting tax changes made in budget 2019 will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25529/19]

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Oral answers (4 contributions) (Question to Finance)

I am asking about the review of the betting tax and the urgency of this matter. Can the Minister for Finance put the reply on the record?

The increase in the betting duty rate from 1% to 2% and the increase in the intermediary duty rate came into effect on 1 January 2019. The last time that the betting duty rate was increased was in 1975. Since then, the rate had gradually decreased to 1%. It now stands at an all-time low.

In the course of last year's Finance Bill process, I acknowledged that smaller independent bookmakers may have difficulty competing with larger bookmakers with retail and online operations. At the time, I agreed to review an alternative proposal put forward by the betting sector. I have held numerous meetings with representatives of the independent betting sector and have met directly with companies to hear their views.

They have furnished me with a proposal and I am now engaging with the European Commission to ascertain whether that can be implemented. In the tax strategy group paper that will be published by the summer we will provide an update to the Oireachtas on the options on that issue.

The quarter 1 receipts and returns will show a big disparity because the independent bookmakers in which approximately 1,800 jobs are at risk have made the returns but have not been able to pay the 2%. I have raised this on several occasions with the Minister. I know we need to engage with the European Commission but I appeal to the Minister not to leave this until the autumn. If there is a way to signal to the industry that a change is coming, that will give them the confidence to go to their bank managers and hold on a little longer knowing they do not have to close down their shop. Many of these are in rural isolated communities. I would appreciate that.

I am aware of the impact of this change in the levy. We will track the tax collection as we move through the year. The purpose of the tax strategy group process is to indicate what options there are for budget day decisions.