Driver Licences

Questions (179)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

179. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Transport if the driver licence of a person (details supplied) has been extended and is valid. [7298/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

This is an operational matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (180)

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

Question:

180. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Transport his plans to reinstate driver lessons under current restrictions for more than just essential workers or those with an appointment for a test; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7299/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

During the current level 5 restrictions, Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) may only conduct lessons in circumstances where the learner in question has already been scheduled a test date.

My Department is very aware of the difficulty this poses to learners who are unable to avail of instruction because they have not yet completed the 12 lessons required to book a test. As only limited services are being provided at present in order to minimise the spread of Covid, it was decided that driving instruction may continue as an essential service, but in extremely limited circumstances.

While I very much regret the inconvenience and frustration that this might cause to both learners and instructors, I am sure the Deputy will agree that public safety must take priority here.

Driver Licences

Question No. 182 answered with Question No. 151.

Questions (181)

Seán Canney

Question:

181. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Transport if he will examine the case of a person (details supplied). [7305/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

This is an operational matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

Question No. 182 answered with Question No. 151.

Road Safety

Questions (183)

Neale Richmond

Question:

183. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Transport if his Department evaluated the safety of mobile phone applications that track human activity, such as an application (details supplied) which encourages speed and races, often on public roads; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7373/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Responsibility for the enforcement of road traffic legislation does not fall under the remit of my Department and, accordingly, an evaluation of the technology described in the Deputy’s email has not taken place. An Garda Síochána may have information specifically pertaining to illegal racing on public roads using mobile phone applications.

Driver Licences

Questions (184)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

184. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport his plans to include in the exchange of all category D1 and D1E UK driver licences to Irish driver licences those with code 1 and code 101; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7401/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

UK licence categories with a code 1 or 101 are not accepted when exchanging a UK driving licence for an Irish one, as per the Memorandum of Understanding on the exchange of driving licences agreed between Ireland and the UK.

Some UK categories known as ‘National Categories’ [similar to our W Tractor] only apply in the UK and they are not exchangeable. Other categories may be given with restrictions identified by codes. These categories with national codes are valid only for driving in the territory of the issuing authority. For example, in the UK if you passed your test for category B (car) before 1 January 1997, your licence would show entitlement D1 and D1E (bus) categories with a restriction code of 101. The D1 and D1E categories with a restriction code 101 only allows the driver to drive a vehicle not for hire or reward. We do not have the corresponding category and so cannot exchange it.

Driver Licences

Questions (185)

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

185. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties faced by drivers in possession of Canadian driver licences in exchanging them for Irish driver licences; the Canadian provinces with which Ireland has a reciprocal arrangement; the action being taken to extend reciprocal arrangements with the remaining Canadian provinces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7424/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Ireland has entered into driving licence exchange agreements with 6 of the Canadian provinces to date. These provinces are Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Exchange agreements can be made only when the relevant authorities in each jurisdiction have studied and compared the two licensing regimes, so that each side can be satisfied that they are compatible. On the Irish side, this task is undertaken by the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

Canadian licences are issued by the government of the province or territory in which the driver is residing. Thus, specific regulations relating to driver's licences vary province to province, thoughoverall they are quite similar.

The RSA will continue to work on agreements with the remaining Canadian provinces.

Insurance Industry

Questions (186, 188)

Marc MacSharry

Question:

186. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Finance if he will make contact with the insurance industry to reduce annual premium renewals for sports clubs that are being hit by large premiums (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6330/21]

View answer

Marc MacSharry

Question:

188. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Finance if his Department will request the insurance sector to reduce insurance premiums for sports clubs in 2021; if the insurance industry will be requested to base premiums on true risks, that is, the reduced risk associated with the drop in usage and footfall due to Covid-19 restrictions; if the insurance sector will be further requested to be lenient in relation to payments for sports clubs, given his request for banks and lending institutions to show forbearance to businesses and clients with loan and mortgage repayments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6331/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 186 and 188 together.

At the outset, while I have an appreciation of the specific issue the Deputy raises, neither I, nor the Central Bank of Ireland, can direct the pricing of insurance products, as this is a commercial matter. In addition, we cannot compel any insurer operating in the Irish market to provide cover to specific individuals or groups, nor can we require them to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products. This position is reinforced by the EU Single Market framework for insurance (the Solvency II Directive) which expressly prohibits Member States from doing so.

Nonetheless, I can assure you that insurance reform is a priority for this Government, with a view to improving the insurance environment, including for sports and community based groups. In this regard, the recently-launched Action Plan for Insurance Reform contains a range of deliverables, including:

- increasing market transparency through the National Claims Information Database (NCID), including for employer and public liability insurance;

- reviewing the duty of care legislation;

- providing for the Judicial Council’s accelerated adoption by 31 July 2021 of new personal injuries guidelines to replace the Book of Quantum;

- consideration by the Department of Justice of the Law Reform Commission’s recent Report on Capping Damages in Personal Injuries Actions;

- looking at how to further enhance the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board; and,

- making proposals on increasing competition in the Irish insurance market.

Recognising that many sports and community-based groups need to see the impact of these reforms as soon as possible, the Action Plan contains 66 actions, 95% of which are due to be completed by the end of 2021. The focus is clearly on completing these actions in the short to medium term. As such, I am hopeful that key reforms around personal injury awards may start to have an impact during this year on the pricing and availability of insurance.

Regarding the Deputy’s query relating to forbearance with respect to sports clubs, I would note that Insurance Ireland last month (27 January) announced a continuance of such measures on behalf of a number of its members. Both Minister of State Fleming and I will continue to raise the issue through engagement with insurers in the coming weeks.

In conclusion, seeking to secure a more sustainable and competitive market through deepening and widening the supply of insurance in Ireland remains a key policy priority for this Government. In this regard, it is my intention, along with Minister of State Fleming, to work with our Government colleagues to ensure that implementation of the Action Plan can have a positive impact on the affordability and availability of insurance for individuals, businesses, community and voluntary groups across Ireland.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Question No. 188 answered with Question No. 186.

Questions (187, 190, 191, 196, 199, 200, 205, 211, 212, 213, 215, 218, 219, 224, 225, 226, 227, 229, 233, 235, 236, 238)

Patricia Ryan

Question:

187. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Finance if he will extend the terms of the Covid restrictions support scheme to include businesses that do not have a fixed premises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6809/21]

View answer

Denis Naughten

Question:

190. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance his plans to extend the eligibility criteria for the Covid restrictions support scheme to cover service businesses which operate from home offices and not just those which operate from a commercial premises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6415/21]

View answer

Cathal Crowe

Question:

191. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Finance if a wedding industry fund similar to the Scottish model will be rolled out here. [6492/21]

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Michael Lowry

Question:

196. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Finance the reason a company (details supplied) was refused supports from the Covid restrictions support scheme; if the decision not to allow such a business to apply for the scheme will be reconsidered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6535/21]

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Imelda Munster

Question:

199. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Finance if he will amend the qualifying criteria for the Covid restrictions support scheme to ensure that all licensed and bonded travel agents and counsellors, including self-employed travel counsellors, will qualify for the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6578/21]

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Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

200. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Finance if he will amend the Covid restrictions support scheme to ensure that inshore fishers and others in the fishing industry can avail of this vital financial support. [6587/21]

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Rose Conway-Walsh

Question:

205. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Finance the reason for excluding boat tour operators from the Covid restrictions support scheme on the basis of not having a business premises; if his attention has been drawn to the negative impact the matter is having on the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6638/21]

View answer

Malcolm Noonan

Question:

211. Deputy Malcolm Noonan asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the situation of 80 self-employed travel agents who have continued to provide services to clients but that generally fall outside current Covid-19-related financial support schemes and whose income has been significantly impacted by the pandemic (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6792/21]

View answer

Malcolm Noonan

Question:

212. Deputy Malcolm Noonan asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the situation of those in the wedding industry, many of whom fall outside current Covid-19-related financial support schemes, and all of whose income has been significantly impacted by the pandemic (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6798/21]

View answer

Patricia Ryan

Question:

213. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Finance if he will extend the terms of the Covid restrictions support scheme to include bottling businesses and other businesses that operate under licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6808/21]

View answer

Malcolm Noonan

Question:

215. Deputy Malcolm Noonan asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the situation of those supplying the events and trade show industry that fall outside Covid-19-related business support schemes (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6915/21]

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Gino Kenny

Question:

218. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many tourist bus operators are not qualifying for grants or supports through the Covid restrictions support scheme due to issues with Fáilte Ireland criteria, such as having a walk-in premises on a main street, and that this is resulting in smaller tourist bus operators being excluded from funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6940/21]

View answer

Gino Kenny

Question:

219. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Finance if he will work with Fáilte Ireland to save smaller tourist bus operators and bus operators that are not members of a representative body (details supplied) to address issues with the funding criteria through the Covid restrictions support scheme, in view of the fact that there are hundreds of bus operators left out of funding. [6941/21]

View answer

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

224. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Finance if he will address the matters raised in correspondence by a person (details supplied) in relation to their business difficulties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7071/21]

View answer

Matt Carthy

Question:

225. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Finance his plans to expand the Covid restrictions support scheme funding to allow coach tour operators to avail of much needed financial supports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7077/21]

View answer

Francis Noel Duffy

Question:

226. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy asked the Minister for Finance if he will review and expand the eligibility criteria for the Covid restriction support scheme to businesses that do not operate from fixed premises (details supplied), but have faced enormous revenue loss due to restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7090/21]

View answer

Brendan Griffin

Question:

227. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance the reason the Covid restrictions support scheme is not available to a business (details supplied) in County Kerry whose income has been decimated; if the application will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7105/21]

View answer

Christopher O'Sullivan

Question:

229. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if consideration will be given to targeting financial supports for the wedding industry (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7169/21]

View answer

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

233. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Finance the reason some self-employed travel agents are being refused support under the Covid restrictions support scheme for not having a walk-in service, even though other travel businesses that do not operate walk-in services are availing of the scheme; if he will extend the scheme to include non-client facing travel agents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7343/21]

View answer

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

235. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance his plans to include mobile home parks, many of which have fronting entrances and reception areas and common areas for showering and laundering that can be defined as fixed premises with a public interface in the Covid restriction support scheme. [7390/21]

View answer

Pearse Doherty

Question:

236. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance his plans to introduce schemes and funding for businesses affected by Covid-19, including an application to the EU to waive state aid rules; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7403/21]

View answer

Holly Cairns

Question:

238. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the outdoor activities sector is excluded from the Covid restrictions support scheme due to the fact that most of its business activity is not being delivered at a fixed business premises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7456/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 187, 190, 191, 196, 199, 200, 205, 211 to 213, inclusive, 215, 218, 219, 224 to 227, inclusive, 229, 233, 235, 236 and 238 together.

The CRSS is a targeted support for businesses significantly impacted by restrictions introduced by the Government under public health regulations to combat the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The support is available to companies, self-employed individuals and partnerships who carry on a trade or trading activities, the profits from which are chargeable to tax under Case I of Schedule D, from a business premises located in a region subject to restrictions introduced in line with the Living with Covid-19 Plan.

Details of CRSS are set out in Finance Act 2020 and detailed operational guidelines, which are based on the terms and conditions of the scheme as set out in the legislation, have been published on the Revenue website at:

https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/press-office/budget-information/2021/crss-guidelines.pdf

To qualify under the scheme a business must, under specific terms of the Covid restrictions, be required to either prohibit or significantly restrict, customers from accessing their business premises to acquire goods or services, with the result that the business either has to temporarily close or to operate at a significantly reduced level. For the purposes of CRSS, a qualifying “business premises” is a building or other similar fixed physical structure in which a business activity is ordinarily carried on.

A self-employed travel agent providing services from a home office, which is not customer-facing, will not meet the eligibility criteria.

Where a business does not ordinarily operate from a fixed business premises, such as a mobile homes site, events company, fishing industry, wedding business or outdoor activity business, that business will not meet the eligibility criteria for CRSS.

Similarly a coach, bus or minibus operator whose business is ordinarily operated from mobile vehicles, that business will not meet the eligibility criteria. A fund of €10 million (Coach Tourism Business Continuity Scheme) was put in place by the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media to support the coach tourism sector.

In addition, Deputies will be aware of the Tourism Business Continuity scheme, a €55m strategic funding scheme announced as part of Budget 2021 to support tourism businesses which was launched last week. I understand that boat tour companies and also caravan and camping and other outdoor accommodation providers that are registered with Fáilte Ireland are eligible for phase 1 of this scheme. Further details of the scheme are available on the Fáilte Ireland website at https://www.failteireland.ie/Identify-Available-Funding/Tourism-Business-Continuity-Scheme.aspx.

It is not sufficient that the trade of a business has been impacted because of a reduction in customer demand as a consequence of Covid-19. The scheme only applies where, as a direct result of the specific terms of the Government restrictions, the business is required to either prohibit or significantly restrict access to its business premises.

Where a business supplies goods or services to businesses in the hospitality industry which, under the specific terms of the Covid restrictions, are required to prohibit or significantly restrict customers from accessing their business premises (for example a bottling business supplying hotels and restaurants), it will not result in the supplier business being eligible to make a claim under CRSS. Each business must meet the qualification criteria in their own right.

I have no plans to change the eligibility criteria for the CRSS or to introduce sectoral supports. The CRSS is just one of the Government’s supports to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19. Businesses who are not eligible for CRSS may be entitled to alternative supports put in place by the Government, including the COVID Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme. Businesses may also be eligible under the Debt Warehousing Scheme to ‘park’ certain VAT and PAYE (Employer) liabilities, excess payments received under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), outstanding balances of self-assessed Income Tax for 2019 and Preliminary Tax for 2020.

I will continue to work with Ministerial colleagues to ensure that appropriate supports are in place to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy.

Question No. 188 answered with Question No. 186.

Credit Register

Questions Nos. 190 and 191 answered with Question No. 187.

Questions (189)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

189. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if he will address a matter regarding the central credit register controlled by the Central Bank (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6376/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Central Credit Register is established by the Central Bank under the Credit Reporting Act 2013 (the “Act”). The Act obliges lenders to submit specified personal and credit information in respect of credit applications and credit agreements to the Central Credit Register. There is no obligation on lenders to provide any underlying documentation, such as credit application documentation, credit approvals or any other correspondence or documentation between a lender and a borrower in relation to credit applications or agreements. The provision of underlying documents and the accumulation of such documentation for all loans is not necessary to operate the Central Credit Register. Furthermore, the Central Bank has advised that if collected, it would constitute a disproportionate processing of data.

Under the Act and general data protection law lenders (credit information providers) are obliged to ensure that the information they submit to the Central Credit Register is accurate, complete and up to date. The Act, and general data protection law, also provides that a borrower (credit information/data subject), has a right to request the amendment of information that they believe to be inaccurate, incomplete or not up to date. The Central Credit Register has established processes at https://www.centralcreditregister.ie/borrower-area/submit-a-request/ through which borrowers can process amendment requests. Borrowers are encouraged to provide as much relevant supporting documentation as possible in the course of this request which is provided to the lender in question, with a request that they review their submissions to the Central Credit Register to ensure that the information being reported is correct. If a request to amend is unsuccessful a borrower may raise the matter with the Financial Services Ombudsman as a formal complaint.

Finally, data subjects (borrowers) may also request copies of their documents from a data controller (lenders), and may also raise the matter with the Data Protection Commission.

Questions Nos. 190 and 191 answered with Question No. 187.

Help-To-Buy Scheme

Questions (192)

Bríd Smith

Question:

192. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Finance his plans to expand the help-to-buy scheme to include help with the purchase of second-hand homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6499/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Help to Buy incentive (HTB) 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 the State over the previous four years, subject to limits outlined in the legislation. The incentive is scheduled to operate until the end of 2021.

HTB is designed to stimulate the supply of new houses in the housing market and to assist first time buyers in accumulating a deposit for a new home. In order to further help meet these goals, I announced an enhancement to the existing scheme with effect from 23 July last for the remainder of 2020 as part of the July Stimulus Package. The legislation to give effect to this is set out in the Financial Provisions (Covid-19) (No.2) Act 2020. The Finance Act 2020 further extended the period of application of the enhanced levels of support until 31 December 2021.

An increase in the supply of new housing remains a priority aim of Government policy. The HTB scheme is specifically designed to encourage an increase in demand for affordable new build homes in order to encourage the construction of an additional supply of such properties. A move to include second-hand properties within the scope of the relief would not improve the effectiveness of the relief; on the contrary it could serve to dilute the incentive effect of the measure in terms of encouraging additional supply.

I have no plans to extend HTB to second-hand properties.

Tax Data

Questions (193, 194, 204)

Bríd Smith

Question:

193. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Finance the projected amount of outstanding tax owed by PAYE workers as a result of the operations of the temporary wage subsidy scheme and employment wage subsidy scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6505/21]

View answer

Bríd Smith

Question:

194. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider a write-off of tax liability accruing to workers as a result of the operation of income and wage supports during the Covid-19 crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6506/21]

View answer

Catherine Connolly

Question:

204. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Finance the steps he is taking to assist persons facing income tax demands as a result of the pandemic unemployment payment and wage subsidies; his plans to reduce or write off such tax liabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6637/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 193, 194 and 204 together.

The position on the tax treatment of payments received under the various income support schemes has been clearly communicated effectively since they were introduced in 2020 in response to the covid-19 pandemic. Payments made under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) and Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) are income supports and share the characteristics of income. They are therefore liable to income tax as is the general position that applies to social welfare payments.

Similar to other income earners whose pay was not subsidised by the State, including those on comparable wages, TWSS payments were also subject to USC.

It is noted, however, that a zero rate of PRSI applied for the purposes of employee PRSI contributions under the TWSS while the PUP is exempt of PRSI, as is also the case for regular social welfare payments.

An additional exemption being made to such payments would raise questions around equity and it is therefore appropriate that payments made under the TWSS and PUP are subject to tax.

Tax was not collected in real-time through the PAYE system while the schemes were in operation. Instead, liability to tax has now been calculated by Revenue through the regular end of year review process. This decision was taken in order to maximise the amount of financial support that was provided to recipients at a time when it was considered that they needed such support most, when the TWSS was first announced and expected to only be in place for 12 weeks.

When the TWSS was extended for a further 10 weeks until the end of August 2020, Revenue took steps to minimise the amount of income tax and USC due, if any, on TWSS payments at the end of the year. This was done by placing all recipients of the TWSS or PUP on the ‘week 1 basis’ of taxation for the remainder of the year so as to “preserve” unused tax credits that can then be used to offset any income tax or USC liabilities that arise at year end.

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) replaced the TWSS from 1 September 2020 and re-established the normal requirement to operate PAYE on all employee salaries, providing for the regular deduction and remittance of income tax, USC and employee PRSI.

In terms of the total outstanding from the 2020 tax year, the final calculation of the end of year liability for each person is dependent on their personal circumstances. However, based on data that Revenue released in January, almost half of those in receipt of the PUP or TWSS have no outstanding liability to discharge, and in in fact over a third are due a refund worth an estimated total of around €151 million.

In the case of the remaining taxpayer units with an outstanding liability, the data indicate that the total amount outstanding from those in receipt of either the TWSS or PUP (or both) is around €335 million. It is noted that amounts to be collected are modest in scale, with 44% owing less than €500 and 72% having a liability of less than €1,000. If paid over the 4 year period beginning in 2022, the majority of those cases will owe less than €5 per week, with nearly half paying less than €2.50 per week. These figures represent a preliminary liability and may be further reduced by additional tax credits or reliefs such as health expenses.

This information was published and is available to view on Revenue’s website:

https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/statistics/registrations/paye-preliminary-eoy-statements.pdf

In terms of the steps being taken to assist persons with an outstanding liability, I note that Revenue has also given assurances that if any income tax and USC liabilities remain following the allocation of unused credits, it will work with taxpayers to collect the outstanding liabilities and a number of flexible arrangements may be entered into, including the collection without interest over an extended period of time for 4 years beginning in 2022. It is also understood that Revenue are facilitating employers who wish to pay the tax liabilities of their employees where income tax and USC liabilities arise from the schemes.

Revenue made a Preliminary End of Year Statement available to all employees from 15 January 2021, including those who were in receipt of the TWSS. The Preliminary End of Year Statement includes information relating to an employee’s income received, including pensions and income from the Department of Social Protection, as well as their tax credit entitlements. For the tax year 2020, the Statement also includes information on the amounts of TWSS payments, if any, received by each employee. In addition, the Statement provides employees with a preliminary calculation of the income tax and USC position for 2020 and indicates whether their tax position is balanced, underpaid or overpaid for the year.

Upon viewing the Preliminary End of Year Statement through myAccount, which is Revenue’s secure online facility for individual taxpayer services, employees have an opportunity to complete their income tax return for 2020, declaring any additional income and claiming any additional tax credits due, for example qualifying health expenses, to arrive at their final liability for 2020.

When a liability is finalised, individuals may opt to fully or partially pay any income tax and USC liability through the Payments/Repayments facility in myAccount. Where individuals do not opt to fully or partially pay, Revenue will collect the liability by reducing their tax credits over 4 years, interest free. The reduction of tax credits will start in January 2022.

State Pensions

Question No. 196 answered with Question No. 187.

Questions (195)

Michael Creed

Question:

195. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance if he will clarify the situation regarding the restricted entitlement for pensioners to drawdown funding from private pension investments which appear to discriminate against persons that have a reduced rate of State pension relative to those that are in receipt of the full State pension (contributory); the reason the State, through its financial regulations, would make it more difficult on persons in receipt of a smaller income to withdraw funds from their own private pension investments than it is for those that have larger pensions and perhaps other income; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6513/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am assuming that the Deputy is referring for the requirement for certain holders of Approved Retirement Funds (ARFs) to retain a portion of their pension savings in an Approved Minimum Retirement Fund (AMRF).

I am advised by Revenue that Part 30 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (TCA) provides that an individual in a defined contribution pension savings arrangement has the option of putting the funds accumulated under the arrangement into an ARF on retirement, subject to conditions.

If, at the time of exercising an option, such an individual is under the age of 75 and does not meet the requirement in section 784C(4) TCA of having a minimum guaranteed pension income for life of €12,700 per annum, including a pension payable under the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, then s/he is required under that section to set aside an amount of €63,500 (or the remainder of the pension fund if less than €63,500 after taking a retirement lump sum) by investing the amount in an AMRF or by the purchase of an annuity.

An AMRF automatically becomes an ARF when the owner either meets the guaranteed pension income requirement or attains the age of 75 years, and the amount of funds in the AMRF at that time can be drawn down at the owner’s discretion under ARF rules.

The primary purpose of the minimum guaranteed pension income condition applying to the ARF option is to ensure that, where this condition is not met, there is a capital nest egg available to the individual in older age. This condition has been in place since the inception of ARFs in 1999. At that time, the minimum income requirement was set at IR£10,000 which, on the introduction of the Euro in 2002, converted to its Euro equivalent of €12,700. This was significantly higher than the maximum rate of the contributory State pension payable in 1999 (IR£4,628, equivalent to €5,876) so there was no intended link between the State pension and the minimum guaranteed income limit.

However, the contributory State pension has more than doubled since 1999 while the minimum guaranteed pension test for ARF purposes remains at €12,700. As the Deputy indicates, the State Pension (Contributory) now exceeds €12,700 for individuals who have 48 or more annual contributions on average, which means such individuals do not have to put a portion of their pension savings into an AMRF. Also, the Revenue Pensions Manual states that Revenue will allow individuals who receive from the Department of Social Protection a Christmas bonus payment, a fuel allowance payment, household benefit package and/or telephone support allowance to take these payments into account for the purpose of the specified income requirement in section 784C TCA.

The Report of the Interdepartmental Pensions Reform and Taxation Group (IDPRTG) was recently published. The IDPRTG Report recommends a range of reforms to the ARF, including abolishing the AMRF requirement. The conclusions in the report represent a building block for a significant piece of long-term structural reform in the area of supplementary pension provision. In relation to the overall IDPRTG Report an implementatoin plan is currently being considered by that Group.

Question No. 196 answered with Question No. 187.

Help-To-Buy Scheme

Questions (197)

Colm Burke

Question:

197. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons who availed of the help-to-buy scheme in Cork city and county in each of the years 2011 to 2020 and to date in 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6557/21]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Help to Buy (HTB) incentive was introduced in 2017. The measure is scheduled to expire on 31 December 2021.

Revenue provide monthly and annual statistics on the scheme, which includes a geographical breakdown of claims (available at:

https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/tax-expenditures/index.aspx)

The table below summarises the latest data available for Cork since the inception of the scheme until end 2020. A breakdown between county and city is not available. Figures for January 2021 are not yet available.

2017

2018

2019

2020

502*

531

815

826

* The 2017 figure includes retrospective claims made in 2017 in respect of the period 19 July 2016 to end 2016, as provided for in the relevant legislation.