Question No. 129 answered with Question No. 119.

Budget Measures

Questions (130)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

130. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Finance if research has been carried out on the impact budgetary changes in recent years have had on the tourism sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44544/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

A “Review of the 9% VAT rate: Analysis of Economic and Sectoral Developments” was published by my Department in July 2018, in order to better inform any decision in relation to the 9% reduced rate going forward. In addition to assessing the relevance, cost, value-for-money, and impact to date of the 9% VAT rate, the Review also looks at the estimated impact on the relevant sectors were the rate to be increased.

The Review found that tourism expenditure is more sensitive to income growth and the economic cycle than price changes. The economy is currently performing well, with high levels of employment and strong demand in the tourism sector. Growth is also expected to continue in the medium term. This positive economic outlook means that the income channel of demand is likely to ensure that economic activity within the tourism sector remains strong. The Review concludes that the VAT rating applied to the tourism sector should not greatly impact demand or employment in the sector. The Budget decision to increase the VAT rate was made following this analysis.

I am aware that Revenue has published analysis of trends in tax receipts and employment for businesses paying VAT at the 9% rate. This report is available at link https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/research/vat-9-rate-analysis.pdf

Given the impact of an increase in the VAT rate on the hospitality sector has only recently been reviewed by my Department and the Revenue Commissioners, there does not seem to currently be a case for reviewing the impact of the increase. All economic activity will be reviewed in the normal way as part of the budgetary cycle.

Tax Credits

Question No. 132 answered with Question No. 126.

Questions (131)

Willie Penrose

Question:

131. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance his plans to ensure that the correct tax free allowance is granted to a person (details supplied) who is on emergency tax basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44599/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the person in question failed to register their employment (with Revenue) until 23 October 2019 and was consequently taxed on the emergency basis. The registration process is required so that Revenue can ensure employees receive the full benefits of their tax credits and rate bands entitlements and should be completed regardless of whether an employment is full-time or temporary.

Revenue has also confirmed that it has now updated the person’s tax record and issued a Revenue Payroll Notification (RPN) to her employer. An amended tax credit certificate for 2019 also issued to the person. The RPN, which includes the person’s correct tax credits and rate bands, will operate on a cumulative basis and any refunds of tax and USC due to them for 2019 will be refunded through their employer’s payroll.

Question No. 132 answered with Question No. 126.

Legislative Measures

Questions (133)

Michael McGrath

Question:

133. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when legislation will be brought forward to ring-fence the extra funds taken in from the increase in carbon tax; if it will be inserted into the Finance Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44653/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

In Budget 2020 I announced that the revenues from the increase in the carbon tax from €20 to €26 per tonne CO2 would be ring fenced and the funds used to protect the most vulnerable in society, to work towards a Just Transition and to invest in low carbon transition.

On 9 October 2019, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform published "The carbon tax increase - what it will be spent on", which sets out specific details in relation to where the ringfenced monies will be going. This can be accessed at: https://assets.gov.ie/35942/a72c67a62786496686fa9257b3f6fa64.pdf.

These are increases that would not have taken place in the absence of an increase to the carbon tax and the increased funding is additional to that provided by the National Development Plan. All funds are ring-fenced for these schemes only. Departments will not be allowed to use the carbon tax revenues for any other purpose, other than the specified schemes.

I am satisfied that this approach will enable the continued ringfencing of additional carbon tax revenues to protect the most vulnerable in society, to work towards a just transition and to invest in low carbon transition in future years.

Property Tax Administration

Questions (134)

Dara Calleary

Question:

134. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance if the 10% penalty for not paying local property tax that is charged on income tax returns is applied to PAYE workers; the reason for the difference between the treatment of self-employed persons and PAYE workers that have not paid the tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44699/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that, similar to the position that applies in the case of other taxes and duties, penalties can be imposed for various offences relating to local property tax (LPT), such as failure to submit a return or other documentation or the provision of false information. Failure to submit an LPT return or submission of an incorrect LPT return, are liable to a penalty of the amount of the LPT that would be payable with a correct return, subject to a maximum penalty of €3,000.

In the normal course of events, a self-employed person is penalised for the late submission (or non-submission) of an income tax return by the imposition of a surcharge on his or her income tax liability. However, a self-employed person who has submitted his or her income tax return on time can also be liable to an income tax surcharge in respect of the late submission of his or her LPT return or the failure to pay LPT. Where such a person has not submitted his or her LPT return by the time that he or she submits an income tax return, the income tax liability is increased by 10% up to a maximum increase of €63,485. However, where the LPT return is subsequently submitted and the associated LPT liability is paid, the income tax surcharge is capped at the amount of the LPT liability.

Unlike self-employed taxpayers, PAYE taxpayers are not generally required to submit an annual income tax return. Therefore, it is not possible to impose a similar type surcharge on PAYE taxpayers for failure to submit an LPT return on time. While PAYE taxpayers and self-employed taxpayers are treated the same in terms of the amount of their LPT liability, the same treatment is not necessary, and not always possible, in relation to how Revenue addresses non-compliance by such taxpayers. Revenue’s compliance actions are tailored according to the type of taxpayer involved and the most effective way to ensure compliance. This is illustrated by the use of the facility to collect LPT liabilities through mandatory deduction at source from a PAYE taxpayer’s salary or pension, which is considered to be a fair approach in the context of the surcharge on income tax that can apply to self-employed taxpayers who fail to meet their LPT liabilities.

Finally, it should be noted that the vast majority of property owners pay their LPT on time. There is no reason for property owners to put themselves in a position where they become liable to a penalty or surcharge. If an individual has particular financial circumstances which cause difficulties in meeting his or her LPT liability, he or she may be entitled to a deferral of the tax or may avail of one of a number of payment methods to discharge the liability evenly over the course of the year.

Information and Communications Technology

Questions (135)

Alan Kelly

Question:

135. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Finance the number of computers in his Department that still use an operating system (details supplied) in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44711/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Currently there are 269 personal computing devices running a Microsoft Windows 7 operating system in my Department. Microsoft Windows 7 extended support is available and will be put in place for these 269 personal computing devices while they are being upgraded to Microsoft Windows 10, this upgrade project will be completed by the end of 2020.

-

Nos.

Personal computing devices running Microsoft Windows 7 operating system

269

Information and Communications Technology

Questions (136)

Alan Kelly

Question:

136. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Finance if his Department will not be forced to pay additional premium payments to a company (details supplied) once support for an operating system expires in January 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44727/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

On 14th January 2020 the Department of Finance will have 269 personal computing devices running Microsoft Windows 7 operating system. Provisions are being made to put in place Microsoft Windows 7 extended support for these personal computing devices at a cost of €13,049.19 to ensure they continue to receive security updates and patches to protect against malware attack. Plans are in place to upgrade all Microsoft Windows 7 personal computing devices to Microsoft Windows 10 by the end of 2020.

Information and Communications Technology

Questions (137)

Alan Kelly

Question:

137. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Finance his plans to protect his Department in the event of a malware attack or security risks as a result of the failure to upgrade computers from an operating system (details supplied) in his Department and the agencies under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44743/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Provisions are being made to upgrade all Microsoft Windows 7 personal computing devices to Microsoft Windows 10, this project will be completed by the end of 2020. Microsoft Windows 7 extended support will be put in place for all the Department’s personal computing devices running Microsoft Windows 7 while this upgrade project is ongoing. The Department’s Windows 7 personal computing devices will continue to receive security updates and patches to protect against malware attack as part of this Microsoft Windows 7 extended support.

There are 17 bodies under the aegis of my Department and it should be noted that none of the bodies share a computer network with my Department.

The Credit Union Advisory Committee is a committee that advises the Minister on credit union issues and uses the department offices for its, usually once a month, meetings and therefore no security issues relating to Windows 7 arise. The Credit Union Restructuring Board has been wound down and legislation formally dissolving the body is currently going through the Houses of the Oireachtas and therefore no security issues relating to Windows 7 arise.

The remaining 15 bodies have provided the following on the measures taken by them to negate any potential malware attacks or security risks:

Body

Plans to protect the Body in the event of a malware attack or security risks as a result of the failure to upgrade computers from Windows 7

Office of the Comptroller and Audit General (C&AG)

The devices used by the Office of the C&AG run Windows 10 apart from two devices which host legacy applications. These devices will be discontinued or updated prior to the expiry of support for Windows 7.

Central Bank

While in excess of 95% of the Central Bank’s estate is Windows 10, due to 3rd party requirements there remains a small number of Windows 7 users. Compensating controls are in place for these, such as network segregation, and they reside in a closed network with no Internet connectivity.The Central Bank has a strategy in place to upgrade these devices in the coming months.

Credit Review Office

The Credit Review Office upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10 in 2017. All of their security and operating systems are operated through Enterprise Ireland.

Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal

The National Rehabilitation Hospital supplies all of the facilities and infrastructure for the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal.

Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO)

The FSPO has upgraded 80% of its PCs to Windows 10. It plans to upgrade the remaining PCs by the end Q4 2019. The FSPO is aware that Extended Support for Windows 7 will expire in mid-January 2020 and it does not anticipate having any PC operating with Windows 7 at that time.

Home Building Finance Ireland (HBFI)

The NTMA assigns staff and provides business and support services and systems to HBFI. This includes primary ICT services. As such, the NTMA maintains a robust cyber security posture to proactively protect against malware attacks and manage security risks. All computers in HBFI currently run the Microsoft Windows 10 Operating System.

Investor Compensation Company DAC

The Investor Compensation Company DAC has upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10, with the latter fully operational for some months.

Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC)

IBRC initiated a project in September of this year to ensure that the upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is completed before the end of life support date of the 14th of January 2020, ensuring that the user environment is protected from any potential security vulnerabilities.

Irish Financial Services Appeals Tribunal (IFSAT)

IFSAT is running Windows 10 on an encrypted device so the security risk does not arise in this case.

Irish Fiscal Advisory Council (IFAC)

IFAC has policies in place in respect of (a) Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery and (b) Information Security Policies and Procedures. It has a Shared Service Agreement in place which includes the provision of IT services and it is provided with regular updates on the assessment of its IT infrastructure. The IT services provided mainly relate to the provision of servers, disk space, backups, internet access, operating system and MS Office software updates/patching, network infrastructure including switches and firewall, and antivirus monitoring. IFAC data is regularly backed up, hosted both on- and off-site, and multiple versions of key files are saved and are periodically tested.

National Asset Management Agency (NAMA)

The NTMA assigns staff and provides business and support services and systems to NAMA. This includes primary ICT services. As such, the NTMA maintains a robust cyber security posture to proactively protect against malware attacks and manage security risks. In relation to the Microsoft Windows 7 Operating System, the NTMA has an active programme of work underway replacing existing Windows 7 computers with Windows 10. Extended Security Updates will be availed of for computers running Windows 7 post January 14 2020 to ensure that the NTMA continues to maintain a robust cyber posture.

National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA)

The NTMA maintains a robust cyber security posture to proactively protect against malware attacks and manage security risks. In relation to the Microsoft Windows 7 Operating System, the NTMA has an active programme of work underway replacing Windows 7 computers with Windows 10. Extended Security Updates will be availed of for computers running Windows 7 post January 14 2020 to ensure that the NTMA continues to maintain a robust cyber security posture.

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

The security of the Revenue Commissioners systems and data are the highest priority for the organisation. Revenue has sophisticated cyber defence mechanisms in place and constantly monitors its systems for any malware or cyber-attacks. Revenue is certified to ISO27001 (information security) and ISO22301 (business continuity) standards and is regularly audited for compliance. Approximately 15% of PCs/laptops in use remain on the Windows 7 operating system. All Windows 7 machines are protected by Symantec Antivirus and receive Windows updates on a frequent basis. These devices have additional security permissions in place by using Microsoft’s group policy. All USB access is disabled by default. Additionally, all Revenue laptops are fully encrypted. Revenue are currently upgrading Windows 7 workstations to a Revenue customised Windows 10 image and introducing additional security features using Microsoft’s AppLocker. The plan is to have 80% of these workstations upgraded with Windows 10 by the end of December 2019 and the remaining 20% to follow in January 2020. Where workstations are not compatible with Windows 10, these will be destroyed and replaced with new workstations.

Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland

The NTMA assigns staff and provides business and support services and systems to the SBCI. This includes primary ICT services. As such, the NTMA maintains a robust cyber security posture to proactively protect against malware attacks and manage security risks. In relation to the Microsoft Windows 7 Operating System, the NTMA has an active programme of work underway replacing existing Windows 7 computers with Windows 10. Extended Security Updates will be availed of for computers running Windows 7 post January 14 2020 to ensure that the NTMA continues to maintain a robust cyber posture.

Tax Appeals Commission

The PCs in the Tax Appeal Commission operate only on Windows 10 and have the latest version of Symantec antivirus, which is updated daily.

Tax Exemptions

Question No. 140 answered with Question No. 126.

Questions (138, 139)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

138. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance the exemption of exit tax rules on investments secured from compensation payments; the circumstances in which exit tax is charged on withdrawals from investment funds and must be reclaimed from the Revenue Commissioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44778/19]

View answer

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

139. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if tax exemptions exist for persons transferring investment moneys between financial companies and whose moneys have been acquired as a result of medical compensation statements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44781/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 138 and 139 together.

Exit tax on investments in collective investment undertakings is generally deducted on the occurrence of a chargeable event. Such chargeable events can arise –

- on the making of relevant payments;

- on the redemption of units;

- on the transfer by a unit holder of their entitlement to units;

- on the appropriation or cancellation of units by a fund to discharge tax payable on a gain arising from a transfer of units by a unit holder; and,

- on the ending of an 8-year period beginning with acquisition and each subsequent 8- year period.

Exit tax must always be deducted from payments to investors with the exception of specific categories of investors such as a pension scheme, a life assurance company or a non-resident individual provided the investment undertaking is in possession of the appropriate declarations in advance of the chargeable event.

The following persons may be entitled to a repayment of the exit tax deducted provided the conditions in the following sections of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 are satisfied -

- a permanently incapacitated individual who is exempt from income tax under section 189 in respect of income arising from the investment of compensation payments in respect of personal injury claims;

- the trustees of a ‘qualifying trust’ within section 189A where the investment is held as part of the trust fund of the qualifying trust, provided that income from the trust or investment returns from investment of the trust funds is the sole or main income of the incapacitated individual;

- a thalidomide victim who is exempt from income tax under section 192 in respect of income arising from the investment of compensation payments made by the Minister for Health and Children or by the foundation Conterganstiftung für behinderte Menschen;

- income which has arisen to an individual as a result of the investment of a relevant payment within the meaning of such under section 205A, which is generally payments relating to the Magdalen Laundries.

The investment undertaking must deduct the exit tax in the normal manner, but the individual or trust may be entitled to a repayment of the exit tax. The exit tax can be reclaimed, where appropriate, when the annual tax return is submitted to Revenue.

I am advised by Revenue that further detailed information on the operation of exit tax on investments in investment undertakings can be found at the following link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/tax-professionals/tdm/income-tax-capital-gains-tax-corporation-tax/part-27/27-01a-02.pdf.

I am further advised by Revenue that the question of whether transferring investment amounts between financial companies will trigger any tax liability depends on the facts of each case. If the amount is being transferred from one investment undertaking to another, then it will, as outlined above, trigger an exit tax event. However, if the amount is held is some other type of investment product, such as a term deposit account, it may not.

Question No. 140 answered with Question No. 126.

Public Services Card

Questions (141)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

141. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if persons require a public services card to regularise their tax liability in instances in which they are on emergency tax in a first-time employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44824/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that taxpayers do not require a Public Services Card in order to regularise their tax affairs.

However, insofar as the operation of the PAYE system in the case of an individual entering employment for the first time is concerned, it is necessary for the individual to be in possession of a Personal Public Service Number (PPSN) to enable Revenue to issue the employer concerned a Revenue payroll notification specifying the individual’s correct tax credits, tax rate and standard rate cut-off point. The issue of PPSNs, and the conditions attaching to such issue, are matters for the Minister and Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (142)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

142. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of full and part-time staff employed in his Department; the number of such staff being paid at the minimum wage rate of pay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44846/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I wish to inform the Deputy that none of the staff in the Department of Finance, either full or part-time are being paid at or less than the National Minimum Wage rate of pay that currently stands at €9.80 per hour.

Consultancy Contracts Data

Questions (143)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

143. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he has issued guidance on the pay structures specifically the maximum consultancy rates per person per day that apply to organisations or persons engaged in departmental consultancy work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44914/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has responsibility for guidance on pay structures. Any such records and subsequent policy development are retained by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, as Ministerial responsibility for the area/topic concerned was transferred under S.I. 10 of 2011 Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 2011.

Universal Social Charge Payments

Questions (144)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

144. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the estimated full year cost of removing USC for earnings up to €18,000. [44999/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the estimated first and full year cost to the Exchequer of increasing the USC threshold from €13,000 to €18,000 is €31 million and €37 million, respectively.

This estimate was generated by reference to 2020 incomes, calculated on the basis of actual data for 2017, the latest year for which returns are available. The data was adjusted as necessary for income, self-employment and employment interim trends and as such are provisional and may be subject to revision.

Departmental Contracts Data

Questions (145)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

145. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the details of contracts of €25,000 or more that have been awarded by his Department or bodies under his aegis that were found to be non-compliant with procurement guidelines in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45064/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The National Public Procurement Policy Framework sets out the procurement procedures to be followed by government departments and state bodies under national and EU rules. In addition, the Department of Finance has its own internal policy and guidance documents to assist staff to comply with all regulations in regard to procurement.

In accordance with Department of Finance Circular 40/02, Departments are required, on an annual basis, to return a report to the Comptroller and Auditor General, in respect of contracts awarded above the €25,000 threshold (exclusive of VAT) that were awarded without a competitive process.

The following table provides all instances of contracts, greater than €25,000, awarded without a competitive process.

Department/Agency

Year(s)

Contractor

Details

Department of Finance

2017-2019

Eurotext

(€28,110 net) This company was engaged for the provision of translation services for the Apple state aid case based on CSSO advice to ensure the necessary quality for such a specialist and technical case. The Department has now entered into a formal agreement with Eurotext to provide translation services on state aid cases only.

For all other foreign translations the Department has completed a tender process using an Office of Government Procurement Framework.

Department of Finance

2018

Individual

(€26,543 net) In 2016, the Government decided to arrange for a review of a certain aspect of Ireland’s tax code by an independent expert to be appointed by the Minister for Finance. It was decided to engage the expert without a competitive tender given his appointment was made pursuant to a Government decision.

There are 17 bodies under the aegis of my Department, 12 of which have not awarded a contract of €25,000 or more that has been found to be non-compliant in any of the given years. These are the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Credit Review Office, the Credit Union Advisory Committee, the Credit Union Restructuring Board, the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal, Home Building Finance Ireland, the Investor Compensation Company DAC, the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, the Irish Financial Services Appeals Tribunal, the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, the National Treasury Management Agency and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland.

It was not possible for the Central Bank of Ireland to respond to this information request in the time available and therefore I will make arrangements to provide a response in line with Standing Orders.

The remaining 4 bodies have provided the following details:

Body

Details of Contracts of €25,000 or more that have been awarded that were found to be non-compliant with procurement guidelines in the 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019

Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman

The FSPO ensured that there was an appropriate focus on good practice in procurement and purchasing and that procedures were in place to ensure compliance with all relevant guidelines. The FSPO complied with the guidelines with the exception of the following supply arrangements: 2017Pre-existing contract for ICT support and maintenance was continued pending the completion of an ICT strategy that in turn will involve the procurement of ICT support services - €203,279. One instance with expenditure of €191,972 where temporary agency staff were relied upon to service current demands at a time when the longer term organisational structure was still evolving, and recruitment for established positions had not yet taken place. The use of agency staff had been discontinued prior to year-end. 2018One supply arrangement to the value of €221,284 where a pre-existing contract for ICT support and maintenance was continued pending the completion of an ICT strategy that in turn will involve the procurement of ICT support services. One instance with expenditure of €43,609 where the physical office environment required immediate reconfiguration following changes to the organisationalstructure and the services of the existing general maintenance contractor were employed. 2019One supply arrangement to the value of €145,856 where a pre-existing contract for ICT support and maintenance was continued pending the completion of an ICT strategy that in turn will involve the procurement of ICT support services. One instance with expenditure of €74,949.27 where the physical office environment required immediate reconfiguration following changes to the organisational structure and the services of the existing general maintenance contractor were employed.

National Assets Management Agency (NAMA)

NAMA publishes, on a quarterly basis, details of its awarded contracts over €25k on its website in accordance with the FOI Publication Scheme as issued by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. Please refer to the NAMA website (https://www.nama.ie/freedom-of-information/publication-scheme) which details the relevant contracts covering the dates requested up to end-September 2019. NAMA will publish any remaining contracts for quarter four 2019 in January 2020. I am advised that NAMA has procured its contracts in accordance with its procurement policies, details of these policies and relevant authorised derogations from procurement guidelines are contained in its Annual Report under Statement on Internal Control (Procurement). Details are on www.nama.ie/publications/annual-reports/Please note that the use of derogations under NAMA’s procurement policies does not amount to non-compliant procurement.

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

2017:The Appropriation Account for 2017 states that the report on procurements in 2017 without competitive tendering amounted to €1,676,644. However, none of these were classed as non-compliant with procurement guidelines by the Office of Comptroller and Auditor General. 2018:Details of procurement determined by the Office of Comptroller and Auditor General as non-compliant with procurement guidelines in 2018 are set out below:

€527,000 relating to long standing contracts for telephonist services. Revenue has phased out the use of external telephonists with the outstanding contracts having been ceased with effect from September 30th, 2019.

The following items were all originally tendered for, but the contracts were rolled over pending new tendering processes:

€2.141 million relating to security contracts. The delay in running mini competitions under a new Office of Government Procurement (OGP) framework arose due to the time required to assess requirements on a national basis across multiple locations. New contracts were put in place in December 2018.

€1.037 million relating to warehousing contracts. A tender competition was held in 2018 by the OGP for a contract to manage the State Warehouse. The OGP tendering process was unsuccessful in appointing a supplier and a new tender competition, run by Revenue, was successfully concluded and a new contract was in place on May 1st, 2019.

€765,000 relating to various services including, inter alia, mobile telephony and fuel cards. Revenue is liaising with OGP with a view to utilising new and existing OGP frameworks and conducting procurement processes where necessary.

2019:

The following relate to expenditure in 2019 for rollover contracts identified by the Office of Comptroller and Auditor General in the 2018 report as non-compliant with procurement guidelines. These are the only contracts that can be currently identified as non-compliant for 2019. The definitive 2019 position can only be determined in the New Year following review by the Office of Comptroller and Auditor General.

€207K relates to telephonist services. The contracts were terminated on September 30th.

€285K relates to the State Warehouse contracted which was replaced on May 1st.

€649K relates to various services including mobile telephony and fuel cards running on old contracts (€584k and €65k respectively).

Tax Appeals Commission

2017: Nil 2018: A contract to the value of €33,000 for software and hardware for a voice recognition and dictation system was non-compliant because it was entered into without there first being a competitive process; this took place because there was no comparable product in the market of which the Tax Appeals Commission had previous experience and practical knowledge. The Commission has provided details of this exceptional contract in the annual return in respect of Circular 40/2002 to the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. 2019: Nil

Insurance Costs

Question No. 147 answered with Question No. 126.

Questions (146)

Dara Calleary

Question:

146. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that companies in the leisure sector are still receiving insurance premium increase demands considerably in excess of insurance inflation, including those with no claim history; if his attention has been further drawn to the damage caused to the sector and to employment in the sector by these premium demands; and the actions he has taken to assist business owners and employers in this regard. [45165/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am aware of the issues facing some businesses in the leisure sector when it comes to the affordability and availability of insurance. The pricing of insurance products is a commercial matter for insurers and neither I, nor the Central Bank of Ireland, have any function in this matter. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance which expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules which require insurance companies to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products. Consequently, the Government cannot direct insurance companies to cover certain types of risk, such as those in the leisure sector.

Notwithstanding the above, I wish to emphasise however that the cost of insurance remains a priority issue for the Government. The Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG), which was established in July 2016, and has produced two reports, is continuing to work to implement the recommendations of the Cost of Motor Insurance Report and the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance Report . The latter report in particular makes it clear the impact that the cost of insurance is having on the leisure and other sectors and this position has been reinforced by Minister of State D’Arcy’s continuing engagement with the sector. Therefore, there is a clear understanding of the impact of this problem on the leisure sector and there is a recognition that the single most essential challenge which must be addressed if we are to overcome it is a sustainable reduction in insurance costs.

In this regard, the establishment of the Personal Injuries Commission and the publication of its two reports, which included a benchmarking of award levels between Ireland and other jurisdictions for the first time has been very helpful in identifying the scale of the problem that is faced. This research showed that award levels for soft tissue injuries in Ireland were 4.4 times higher than in England and Wales. The PIC recommended that a Judicial Council be established and that it should compile guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury. In carrying out this exercise, the PIC believes that the Judiciary will take account of the jurisprudence of the Court of Appeal, the results of its benchmarking exercise, etc.

As the Deputy is aware, the Government with the support of all parties in the Oireachtas prioritised the passing of the Judicial Council Act 2019 . This Act provides for the establishment of a Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee upon the formal establishment of the Judicial Council. This Committee is tasked with introducing new guidelines to replace the Book of Quantum. While the Government cannot interfere in their deliberations, I would hope that the Judiciary will recognise the importance of this issue and prioritise it accordingly.

Other steps take to date to address the cost of insurance include the following:

- The establishment of the National Claims Information Database in the Central Bank to increase transparency around the future cost of private motor insurance. The CBI is due to make its first report by the end of 2019, and will make recommendations to me regarding potentially expanding its scope to include employer and public liability insurance;

- Reforms to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019 to strengthen the powers of PIAB around compliance with its procedures;

- Commencement of the amendments to Sections 8 and 14 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 to align the timeframes by which claims should be notified to businesses with GDPR time limits on the keeping of CCTV footage to make it easier for businesses and insurers to challenge cases where fraud or exaggeration is suspected;

- The reform of the Insurance Compensation Fund to provide certainty to policyholders and insurers, resulting from the failure of Setanta Insurance;

- Various reforms of how fraud is reported to and dealt with by An Garda Síochána, including increased co-ordination with the insurance industry, as well as the recent decision by the Garda Commissioner to develop a divisional focus on insurance fraud which will be guided by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) which will also train Gardaí all over the country on investigating insurance fraud, and the recent success under Operation Coatee, which targets insurance-related criminality, and;

- The commencement and prioritisation by the Law Reform Commission (LRC) of its work to undertake a detailed analysis of the possibility of developing constitutionally sound legislation to delimit or cap the amounts of damages which a court may award in respect of some or all categories of personal injuries, as part of its Fifth Programme of Law Reform;

I believe that these reforms are having a significant impact with regard to private motor insurance (CSO figures from August 2019 show that the price of motor insurance is now 24% lower than the July 2016 peak). The Government is determined to continue working to ensure that these positive pricing trends can be extended to other forms of insurance, particularly those relevant to businesses.

In conclusion, I would like to assure the Deputy that important reforms are taking place and that I am confident that if the level of awards are reduced as a result of the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee, then the insurance premium and coverage issues that are being experienced by the leisure sector and many businesses more generally should recede.

Question No. 147 answered with Question No. 126.

Tax Reliefs Data

Questions (148)

Robert Troy

Question:

148. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons eligible for the e-working and home workers tax relief on expenses incurred while working from home; the number of eligible persons that made a claim under the relief in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the value of all valid claims made under this relief annually over the period by county and nationwide; the estimated value for eligible persons that did not make a claim under the relief in each year by county and nationwide in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45290/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Employers may make payments of up to €3.20 per work-day to e-worker or home worker employees to cover expenses such as heating and electricity, which are not subject to deduction of PAYE, PRSI or USC.

I am advised that where employers avail of this facility, they are not required to advise Revenue and therefore the number of employees reimbursed in this manner is not available. Where employers choose to pay more than the €3.20 per work-day rate, any such excess is subject to deduction of PAYE, PRSI and USC.

Where an e-worker or home worker employee has suffered qualifying expenses that are not reimbursed by the employer, or where such reimbursement is treated as taxable income (i.e. above €3.20 per week), the employee may make a claim to Revenue for a deduction from taxable income in respect of these amounts. Qualifying expenses in this context are expenses incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of the duties of the employment.

I am advised by Revenue that where a deduction in respect of expenses in relation to e-working or home-working is claimed in a tax return, the amounts are included in a general ‘Expenses’ field. Therefore, it is not possible to provide the number or value of specific claims in relation to these expenses.