Help-To-Buy Scheme

Questions (137)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

137. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if there has been a decision as to whether those who are seeking to avail of the help-to-buy scheme and who have been on the temporary wage subsidy scheme will need to comply fully with the requirement to have all tax liabilities for 2020 met, given the circumstances that applied in 2020; if all previous tax liabilities have been met; if an outstanding tax liability can be deducted from the tax rebate received using the help-to-buy scheme or in the case of a couple with a tax liability for 2020 of €3,000, for example, if they would have to have it paid first before qualifying; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2280/21]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Help to Buy (HTB) incentive, 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 Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 outlines the definitions and conditions that apply to the HTB scheme. A claimant under the scheme must make an application confirming he or she meets various conditions specified in the section, including that he or she is a first-time purchaser and that he or she has completed a tax return form and paid any outstanding balance for each of the four tax years prior to making the application.

In relation to the tax due (if any) on amounts received under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) or Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), employees will be given the opportunity to fully or partially pay any income tax liability through the Payments/Repayments facility in myAccount. Otherwise, Revenue will collect the liability, interest free, by reducing the employees tax credits over 4 years to minimise any hardship. The reduction of tax credits will start in January 2022.

Where an underpayment of tax arises for the year 2020 as a result of amounts received under the TWSS or PUP, Revenue advise me that they will allow a claim for HTB relief for the amount of income tax paid for 2020 and will not require the outstanding tax liability to be paid in advance where the underpayment of tax is due to be collected from 2022 by reducing the claimant’s tax credits. This will only apply where all other conditions of the HTB scheme are satisfied.

Primary Medical Certificates

Question No. 139 answered with Question No. 134.

Questions (138, 148, 150)

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

138. Deputy Kieran O'Donnell asked the Minister for Finance if primary medical certificate applications can be processed by the HSE from 1 January 2021 as provided for in the Finance Act 2020; and if his Department has advised the HSE in writing of this legislative measure. [2286/21]

View answer

Robert Troy

Question:

148. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance when his Department expects a reply from the Office of the Attorney General with regard to primary medical certificates currently on hold pending same. [2534/21]

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Robert Troy

Question:

150. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance when he expects a reply from the Office of the Attorney General with regard to primary medical certificates currently on hold pending same (details supplied). [2549/21]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 138, 148 and 150 together.

Following approval of the Finance Act 2020, which provides for the medical criteria for the Disabled Drivers Scheme, the HSE has been informed that medical assessments can recommence from 1st January 2021. This is considered to be an interim solution only. A comprehensive review of the scheme, to include a broader review of mobility supports for persons with disabilities, will be conducted this year. On foot of that review new proposals will be brought forward for consideration.

Separately, the ability to hold assessments may be impacted on by, among other things, the public health restrictions in place and the role of the HSE Medical Officers in the roll out of the Covid vaccination programme.

Question No. 139 answered with Question No. 134.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (140)

Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

140. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for Finance if banks are classified as essential services; if they are to remain open to the public during the current lockdown; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2339/21]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Government agreed on 30 December 2020 that Level 5 as set out in the Plan for Living with COVID-19 will apply nationally.

The Department of the Taoiseach has published the List of Essential Services at Level 5 (available at the link below).

Essential workers are those providing the services set out in the list. Physical attendance at workplaces is only permitted where such services can only be provided in person and cannot be delivered remotely.

The legislation underpinning the current restrictions is set out in the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 10) Regulations 2020 (S.I. No. 701 of 2020) provides that banks, post offices and credit unions are essential retail outlets (Schedule, Part 1A); and that financial, insurance and banking services (including post office and credit union services) provided by a financial services provider are essential services (Schedule, Part 2) for the purposes of those Regulations.

List of Essential Services at Level 5:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/c9158-essential-services/?referrer=http://www.gov.ie/en/publication/dfeb8f-list-of-essential-service-providers-under-new-public-health-guidelin/

Tax Reliefs

Questions (141)

Patricia Ryan

Question:

141. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Finance when figures will be available for 2019 and 2020 showing the number of persons that have benefited from the special assignee relief programme; the cost of the scheme in each year; the average benefit per person in each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2350/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the annual cost of the Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP), the number of taxpayers participating in the scheme, and the average benefit per assignee are available in reports published on the Revenue website at link:

https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/research/statistical-reports/special-assignee-relief-programme.aspx.

These reports provide the relevant data for the years 2012 to 2018, the latest year for which data are available. Revenue further advise me that a report for 2019 will be published in quarter 3 of this year, with the report for 2020 being provided in 2022. The timing of the publication of these reports follows the deadlines for submission of the relevant tax returns (in the year following the tax year in question) and the required time to subsequently process the data.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (142)

Holly Cairns

Question:

142. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Finance if employees of his Department have received Covid-19 vaccines due to their role in the Department; if so, the rationale for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2400/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I wish to advise the Deputy that I am not aware of any staff of the Department receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

Primary Medical Certificates

Questions (143)

Seán Canney

Question:

143. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Finance if he will facilitate the applications for primary medical certificates to be processed and approved by general practitioners in order to deal with applications during the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2427/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme provides relief from VAT and VRT (up to a certain limit) on the purchase of an adapted car for transport of a person with specific severe and permanent physical disabilities, payment of a Fuel Grant, and an exemption from Motor Tax.

To qualify for the Scheme an applicant must be in possession of a Primary Medical Certificate. The PMC is issued by the relevant Senior Medical Officer in the HSE, or failing that an appeal may be made to the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal. I have no role in relation to the granting or refusal of PMCs and the HSE and the Medical Board of Appeal must be independent in their clinical determinations.

There is no legal basis to have assessments carried out by general practitioners. The HSE has been informed that medical assessments can recommence from 1st January 2021. The ability to hold assessments may be impacted on by, among other things, the public health restrictions in place and the role of the HSE Medical Officers in the roll out of the Covid vaccination programme.

Brexit Issues

Question No. 145 answered with Question No. 132.

Questions (144)

Niall Collins

Question:

144. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance if he will address a matter relating to Brexit customs issues (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2465/21]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Since January 1, following the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, the UK has been outside the EU Single Market and Customs Union and this means that a range of new formalities apply to goods moving to, from or through the United Kingdom, excluding Northern Ireland.

I am aware that Revenue fully appreciates that the new regulatory requirements and customs formalities present significant challenges and impose additional burdens on businesses. These requirements can be complex, but it is essential that Ireland fulfils its obligations as a member of the EU and that we protect public health, food safety and product standards as well as the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union.

The Government has provided a range of supports to assist businesses in adapting to the new rules and procedures that are now in place, including the Ready for Customs Grant scheme and the Clear Customs training programme. Officials and State Agencies have also been providing support and assistance on a 24/7 basis when practical difficulties with the new rules and procedures arise.

I appreciate that some businesses have found that it has taken longer to move goods through our ports, but it is important to note that a significant number of businesses have successfully made the transition to the new trading environment. These businesses are successfully submitting Customs declarations and receiving the associated Master Reference Numbers (MRNs) and are using these MRNs to create and populate the Pre-Boarding Notification (PBN). In recent days, more than 70% of goods being imported through Dublin Port, for example, are being green routed on arrival meaning they can leave the port without the need for additional interaction with Customs or other State agencies.

As regards the performance of Revenue’s Customs IT systems, I am advised by Revenue that in most cases, further investigation of specific issues raised with them has revealed that the actual error has been as a result of incorrect data rather than a systems issue. However, there have also been some systems issues and, in such cases, Revenue issued clear and timely communications that enabled affected businesses to continue to move their goods. These notifications are available on the Revenue website but are also automatically issued to businesses that have signed up to receive Revenue eCustoms Notifications. I am assured by Revenue that it was not a systems issue that led to the introduction of a temporary easement measure provided to trade and business in regard to the import safety and security declaration (ENS) declaration. PBNs are being successfully filed on a daily basis by trade and business.

I am satisfied based on the examination of the issues undertaken by Revenue and the assurance provided to me by Revenue that the customs IT systems are functioning well and are robust and resilient. I do, of course, fully appreciate the difficulties that arise for business when even short-term issues impact on business and the efficiency with which they can move goods. I fully support the Revenue approach of working with individual businesses and with the relevant trade representative bodies to assist them in building the understanding and knowledge of customs formalities and ensuring compliance with same so that goods movements between Ireland and Great Britain can be as efficient as possible, mindful of the fact that the trading environment changed irrevocably following the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.

Question No. 145 answered with Question No. 132.

Vehicle Registration Tax

Questions Nos. 147 and 148 answered with Question No. 132.

Questions (146)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

146. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if he will address a matter in relation to vehicle registration tax (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2485/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that a person undertaking a transfer of residence from the UK (or any non-EU country) must have lived there for a continuous period of at least 12 months and have owned and used the vehicle for a minimum of 6 months before they can avail of the exemption from Customs Duty, VAT and VRT.

Questions Nos. 147 and 148 answered with Question No. 132.

Mortgage Lending

Question No. 150 answered with Question No. 138.

Questions (149)

Chris Andrews

Question:

149. Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Finance the procedure for applicants applying for mortgage breaks; if the applicant has to refill the forms; if an applicant is entitled to receive another mortgage break; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2538/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

A key focus of the Central Bank is to ensure lenders are acting in a way that protects the best interests of borrowers, and in line with relevant codes and regulations. Through ongoing engagement with the BPFI and lenders, the Central Bank is working to ensure that borrowers affected by COVID-19 continue to be supported through this period of unprecedented stress. The main objective being that impacted borrowers are provided with the appropriate supports by their lenders.

The Central Bank’s clear expectation is that lenders engage effectively and sympathetically with distressed borrowers – in line with the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA), the Consumer Protection Code – to deliver appropriate and sustainable solutions and facilitate as many borrowers as possible to return to repaying their debt. In particular, the CCMA sets out the process that entities must follow when a borrower is in or facing difficulties on a primary home mortgage.

This Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP) as set out in the CCMA comprises four steps which are:-

Step 1: Communicate with borrower;

Step 2: Gather financial information;

Step 3: Assess the borrower’s circumstances; and

Step 4: Propose a resolution.

The CCMA must be complied with as a matter of law and the Central Bank has the power to take enforcement action against any regulated entity who does not act in compliance with the CCMA. Under Provision 38 of the CCMA, it is acceptable to put in place temporary alternative repayment arrangements prior to completion of the full assessment of the borrower’s Standard Financial Statement (SFS), where a delay will further exacerbate borrower’s arrears or pre-arrears situation.

It is in the best long term interest of borrowers and lenders that the most appropriate and suitable arrangement is put in place in context of a particular situation, and this can only be done where there is engagement between the borrower and lender. Payment breaks continue to be available as part of a suite of measures lenders offer to customers facing difficulties and the Central Bank has confirmed that there is no regulatory impediment to lenders providing payment breaks so long as they are appropriate in the borrower’s circumstances. However, if following engagement it is concluded that another solution is better, then it is in everyone’s interest to adopt that better option as soon as possible.

As indicated, the Central Bank is continuing to engage on this matter and it recently indicated that lenders are to ensure that they have sufficient expert resources to assess individual borrower circumstances, and to offer appropriate and sustainable solutions to affected borrowers in a timely manner in line with regulatory requirements and Central Bank expectations.

I will continue to work with the Central Bank, as regulator, to ensure that the Central Bank consumer protection and other applicable frameworks will be fully available to all borrowers that will still need support.

Question No. 150 answered with Question No. 138.

Tax Code

Questions (151)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

151. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Finance if he will revoke the capital gains tax exemption provided to religious orders to ensure the sale of property and lands are subject to the tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2589/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Regarding the Deputy’s question concerning an exemption from Capital Gains Tax (CGT) provided to religious orders, I am informed by Revenue that Section 609 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (the Act) provides that a gain on a disposal of an asset is not a chargeable gain if it accrues to a charity and is applied for charitable purposes.

“Charity” is defined for capital gains tax purposes in section 5 of the Act by reference to the meaning of that term in section 208 of the Act, which grants exemption from income tax in respect of certain income of charities. In section 208, the term “charity” means any body of persons or trust established for charitable purposes only. Essentially, therefore, any such body that qualifies for exemption from income tax under section 208 also qualifies for exemption from capital gains tax. Consequently, this means that, in general, gains on disposals of land by religious orders will be exempt from capital gains tax.

As with all taxes, CGT is subject to ongoing review, which involves the consideration and assessment of the rate of CGT and the relevant reliefs and exemptions from CGT. CGT policy and legislation is reviewed by the Tax Strategy Group (TSG), as part of the annual Budget and Finance Bill process, and is considered in the wider tax policy context.