Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Questions (76, 77, 136, 137, 138)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

76. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons taking up the bike to work scheme in each of the past five years; the cost of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10942/20]

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Louise O'Reilly

Question:

77. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance if consideration has been given to extending the bike to work scheme beyond PAYE workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10943/20]

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Holly Cairns

Question:

136. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Finance his views on adjusting the cycle to work scheme to cover the purchasing of child seats or trailers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11548/20]

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Holly Cairns

Question:

137. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person can only avail of the cycle to work scheme once every five years even if the person's bike is stolen and-or damaged. [11549/20]

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Holly Cairns

Question:

138. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Finance his views on changing the cycle to work scheme from a benefit-in-kind model to a model similar to the electric vehicle grants scheme which would enable more persons to purchase a sustainable and healthy form of transport regardless of employment status. [11550/20]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 76, 77, 136, 137 and 138 together.

Section 118(5G) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for the cycle to work scheme. This scheme provides an exemption from benefit-in-kind where an employer purchases a bicycle and associated safety equipment up to a maximum of €1,000 for an employee to use, in whole or in part, to travel to work. Safety equipment includes helmets, lights, bells, mirrors and locks but does not include child seats or trailers.

I refer the Deputy to my  previous responses to Parliamentary Questions  on this issue, most recently questions 9973/20 on 9 June, 8693/20 on 3 June, and 7016/20 on 20 May.

The cycle to work scheme operates on a self-administration basis, and relief is automatically available provided the employer is satisfied that the conditions of their particular scheme meet the requirements of the legislation. There is no notification procedure for employers involved. This approach was taken with the deliberate intention of keeping the scheme simple and reducing administration on the part of employers.

Accordingly, there are no records centrally available on the number of people availing of the scheme.  The Deputy may wish to note that a series of questions to individual Departments on 9 June sought the number of persons in each Department who availed of the scheme.

The legislation only allows for one purchase of a bicycle in respect of an employee in a five-year period irrespective of whether the bicycle was used for the full period or not. Any deviation from the current self-administration system would involve additional administrative procedures for either or both Revenue and employers in relation to the verification of loss, theft, insurance recovery, etc. As this runs counter to the administrative simplicity of the existing provisions, it would not be appropriate to alter the existing scheme.

Anyone obtaining a bicycle under the scheme would therefore be advised to ensure it is covered by insurance.

The inclusion of child seats and trailers in the scheme or the extension of the scheme beyond employees would create an additional cost and that cost must be recovered elsewhere. For that reason, while the scheme is kept under review by officials, I have no plans at present for its expansion.  

Finally, as Minster for Finance I do not offer any grant schemes for personal transportation. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland is responsible for electrical vehicle grants and comes under the aegis of my colleague the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.