Skip to main content
Normal View

Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021

Written Answers Nos. 211-227

Question No. 211 answered with Question No. 201.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (212)

Holly Cairns

Question:

212. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Finance if hospitality businesses will be eligible in December 2021 to be given the opportunity to requalify for the employment wage subsidy scheme supports in January 2022; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61558/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Section 28B of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 provides for the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) which is an economy-wide enterprise support for eligible businesses. EWSS provides a flat-rate subsidy to qualifying employers, based on the number of qualifying employees on the payroll.

As an economy-wide support, the EWSS has played a central role in supporting businesses, encouraging employment and helping to maintain the link between employers and employees since July 2020. To date (9 December 2021), payments of over €5.73 billion and PRSI credit of over €902 million have been granted to 51,700 employers in respect of some 696,900 workers.

The Finance (Covid-19 and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2021, signed into law on 19 July, provided for the extension of EWSS to 31 December 2021. It also provided that for employers to be eligible for the EWSS, they must be able to demonstrate that their business will experience a 30% reduction in turnover or customer orders for the calendar year 2021 compared to the calendar year 2019 and that this disruption to normal business is caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of my Budget Day announcement I outlined that the EWSS will remain in place in a graduated form until 30 April 2022. While the scheme will be closed to new employers from 1 January 2022, eligible employers who are availing of EWSS at 31 December 2021 will continue to be supported by the scheme, if they so choose, until 30 April 2022. Therefore, in relation to the Deputy’s question, if hospitality businesses were eligible in December 2021, remain registered for EWSS and received EWSS payments, they will continue to qualify for the EWSS supports in January 2022. There is also the legislative requirement that employers must have a tax clearance certificate to be eligible to join the EWSS and, must continue to meet the requirements for tax clearance for the duration of the scheme.

The EWSS legislation requires that immediately at the end of each month, from the introduction of the scheme in August 2020 onwards, each employer availing of the scheme must carry out a self-review of its business circumstances and if it is manifest to the employer that it no longer meets the eligibility test for qualification for the scheme, then the employer must immediately cease claiming wage subsidy payments.

To assist employers in conducting a monthly review of its continuing eligibility for the scheme, Revenue have provided an EWSS Eligibility Review Form through its Revenue Online Service (ROS). From 21 July 2021, completing and submitting an EWSS Eligibility Review Form to Revenue has been necessary to avail of EWSS supports, with details of an employer’s monthly eligibility review check to be submitted by the 15th of the following month. For EWSS claims in 2022, the eligibility review undertaken on the last day of December 2021 will need to be completed and submitted to Revenue by 15 January 2022.

Finally, as announced on 9 December last, it has been decided to extend the enhanced rates of EWSS for the months of December 2021 and January 2022 to give certainty to businesses when they need it most and to help maintain the link between employers and employees in sectors adversely affected by the most recent public health restrictions. From 1 February 2022, the original two-rate structure of €203 per week and €151.50 per week will apply; for March and April 2022, a flat rate subsidy of €100 per week will apply and the scheme will end on 30 April 2022. These changes are being provided for in Finance Bill 2021.

The Government and I have been clear that there will be no cliff edge to supports for employers but we have also been clear that the EWSS cannot run indefinitely, nor is it sustainable to continue with the enhanced rates for a prolonged period of time given the very substantial costs to the Exchequer.

At the same time, as has been the case since the start of the pandemic, the Government will continue to monitor developments closely.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Question No. 214 answered with Question No. 213.

Question No. 215 answered with Question No. 213.

Questions (213, 214, 215, 219)

Holly Cairns

Question:

213. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Finance if he will permit automatic qualification for the Covid restrictions support scheme in cases in which hospitality businesses qualify for the employment wage subsidy scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61559/21]

View answer

Holly Cairns

Question:

214. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Finance if he will apply a 30% revenue drop threshold for the Covid restrictions support scheme supports for hospitality businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61560/21]

View answer

Holly Cairns

Question:

215. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Finance if he will set the weekly cap on the Covid restrictions support scheme payments at €25,000 in order to ensure larger hospitality businesses are not disadvantaged by the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61561/21]

View answer

Seán Canney

Question:

219. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Finance if he will remove the Covid restrictions support scheme limit of €5,000 per week; if the basis of calculation is 12% of 2019 turnover, then that full amount should be allowed given larger properties also incur larger costs and should therefore not have a limit imposed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61659/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 213 to 215, inclusive, and 219 together.

The Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (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 Covid restrictions as set out in the relevant legislation.

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.

The CRSS applies to businesses carrying on trading activities from a business premises located in a region subject to restrictions, which requires the business to prohibit or considerably restrict customers from accessing their business premises and as a result, is operating at less than 25% of turnover in 2019.

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.

The cash payment is 10% of the average weekly turnover of the business in 2019 up to €20,000 and 5% thereafter, subject to a maximum weekly payment of €5,000, for each week that the business is affected by the Covid restrictions.

With the easing of Covid restrictions in recent months many businesses are no longer significantly restricted from operating and therefore are no longer eligible for the CRSS. However, eligible businesses have been able to claim enhanced restart week payments to assist them with the costs of reopening. A total of €704m has been paid out under the CRSS in respect of 25,500 premises.

The public health restrictions currently in force, require nightclubs and discotheques to remain closed until 9 January 2022 and they will be eligible to receive the CRSS until then.

Under the relevant legislation, the CRSS was due to end on 31 December 2021 but is now being extended to the end of January 2022. Provision is also being made to allow the Minister to extend the CRSS up to 30 April 2022 by Ministerial order if deemed necessary.

Following the agreement of Government on 3 December 2021, my Department and Revenue sought to develop a proposal to modify the CRSS to provide for a supplementary subsidy (in addition to EWSS) for businesses which are subject to the latest restrictions on operating. The objective of the modified scheme was to provide targeted, timely and sector-specific support to supplement the reduced EWSS payments to the sector.

However, on further consideration and analysis of the data on CRSS, it proved to be administratively complex to design such a scheme and it would not be possible to have it operational ahead of Christmas as was hoped. The proposed modifications which included a change to both the turnover threshold and the rate, as well as consideration of a higher weekly cap, had the potential to significantly increase the cost of the scheme, particularly in the context of uncertainly around the trajectory of Covid-19 and the impact of the Omicron variant.

Therefore a decision was taken that a restoration of the higher EWSS rate was a relatively more efficient and effective way to support businesses in the immediate term. The CRSS will remain in place to support businesses who are required to close or significantly restrict customers from accessing their business premises, and who meet the qualifying criteria.

I propose to introduce amendments to the Finance Bill 2021 to give effect to these changes in the Seanad this week.

Question No. 214 answered with Question No. 213.
Question No. 215 answered with Question No. 213.

Primary Medical Certificates

Questions (216)

Violet-Anne Wynne

Question:

216. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Finance the status of the proposed review of the primary medical certificate system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61617/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Disabled Drivers & Disabled Passengers Scheme provides relief from Vehicle Registration Tax and VAT on the purchase and use of an adapted car, as well as an exemption from motor tax and an annual fuel grant.

The Scheme is open to severely and permanently disabled persons as a driver or as a passenger and also to certain charitable organisations. In order to qualify for relief, the applicant must hold a Primary Medical Certificate issued by the relevant Senior Area Medical Officer (SAMO) or a Board Medical Certificate issued by the Disabled Driver 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.

Certain other qualifying criteria apply in relation to the vehicle, in particular that it must be specially constructed or adapted for use by the applicant.

To qualify for a Primary Medical Certificate an applicant must be permanently and severely disabled, and satisfy at least one of the following medical criteria, in order to obtain a Primary Medical Certificate:

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

- be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

- be without both hands or without both arms;

- be without one or both legs;

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

- have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

The current medical criteria medical criteria were included in the Finance Act 2020, by way of amendment to Section 92 of the Finance Act 1989. This amendment arises from legal advice in light of the June 2020 Supreme Court judgement that the medical criteria in secondary legislation was not deemed to be invalid, nevertheless it was found to be inconsistent with the mandate provided in Section 92 of the Finance Act 1989 (primary legislation).

As the Deputy will appreciate this Scheme confers substantial benefits to eligible persons and changing the medical criteria to more general mobility-focused criteria, would raise the already considerable cost of the Scheme in terms of tax foregone to the Exchequer. Any increase in the cost of the Scheme would require a concomitant increase in tax, reduction in public expenditure, or increase in the Exchequer deficit.

While I am very aware of the importance of this scheme to those who benefit from it, I am also aware of the disquiet expressed by members of this house and others in respect of the difficulties around access to the scheme.

Accordingly, I gave a commitment to the House that a comprehensive review of the scheme, to include a broader review of mobility supports for persons with disabilities, would be undertaken.

In this context I have been working with my Government colleague, Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. We are both agreed that the review should be brought within the wider review that was commenced in March 2020 under the auspices of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy, to examine transport supports encompassing all Government funded transport and mobility schemes for people with disabilities. Its work was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Minister O’Gorman has confirmed that he has asked his officials to reconvene the working group established to carry out that review at the earliest opportunity and we are both agreed that this is the most appropriate forum for the review. With this in mind, officials from both my Department and Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth have met recently to discuss proposals for progressing the Disabled Drivers Scheme review within the wider review. My officials will continue to work closely with officials from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, to progress this review, and on foot of that will bring forward proposals for consideration.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Question No. 218 answered with Question No. 201.

Question No. 219 answered with Question No. 213.

Questions (217)

Seán Canney

Question:

217. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Finance if the employment wage subsidy eligibility criteria for Q1 2022 should compare projected turnover against quarter 1 2019 and not 2021 versus 2019; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that cognisance should be made of the different set of circumstances that pertained in 2021; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that quarter 1 is always the most difficult time of the year even in good trading times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61656/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Section 28B of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 provides for the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) which is an economy-wide enterprise support for eligible businesses. EWSS provides a subsidy to qualifying employers, based on the number of qualifying employees on the payroll.

As an economy-wide support, the EWSS has played a central role in supporting businesses, encouraging employment and helping to maintain the link between employers and employees since July 2020. To date (9 December 2021), payments of approximately €5.73 billion and PRSI credit of over €902 million have been granted to 51,700 employers in respect of some 696,900 workers.

The EWSS legislation provides that for employers to be eligible for the EWSS, they must be able to demonstrate that their business will experience a 30% reduction in turnover or customer orders for the calendar year 2021 compared to the calendar year 2019 and that this disruption to normal business is caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I would also draw attention to the fact that, despite the exit from most public health restrictions during the summer, the eligibility criteria was not tightened in the Finance (Covid-19 and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2021 which was enacted in the summer and which extended the scheme beyond end-June 2021. In fact, the reference period to which the metric must be applied was broadened out in the above Act to span a full year thus effectively relaxing the conditionality to qualify to benefit from the scheme in most cases.

Therefore, for most businesses, eligibility is determined by comparing the actual turnover or level of customer orders of the business for the calendar year 2021 with the turnover or level of customer orders of the business for the calendar year 2019. Many businesses were fully closed or limited in their capacity to trade due to the public health restrictions in place for the earlier months of 2021. This change in the EWSS assessment period meant that such businesses could generate the equivalent of up to 70% of their calendar year 2019 turnover or customer orders for the remainder of 2021 and still remain eligible to claim support under the scheme.

As the Deputy will be aware, as part of my Budget Day announcement I outlined that the EWSS will remain in place in a graduated form until 30 April 2022 and that there will be no changes to the eligibility review period. While the scheme will be closed to new employers from 1 January 2022, eligible employers who are availing of EWSS at 31 December 2021 will continue to be supported by the scheme, if they so choose, until 30 April 2022.

As announced on 9 December last, it has been decided to extend the enhanced rates of EWSS for the months of December 2021 and January 2022 to give certainty to businesses when they need it most and to help to maintain employer/employee links. From 1 February 2022, the original two-rate structure of €203 per week and €151.50 per week will apply; for March and April 2022 the flat rate subsidy of €100 per week will apply and the scheme will end on 30 April 2022.

As part of the deliberations associated with this most recent change, consideration was given to amending the reference period so that all businesses would have to demonstrate eligibility for EWSS in the period January to April 2022 by way of a 30% decrease in turnover compared with the same period in 2019. However, for a number of reasons, including the fact that such a change could have the effect of excluding certain businesses who, in line with my Budget Day announcement, might have otherwise expected to be eligible for EWSS and who have planned accordingly, such an approach was not proceeded with. Accordingly, I intend to follow the course outlined in Budget 2022, so that businesses who qualify for EWSS as at 31 December 2021 may continue to be supported by the scheme until 30 April 2022.

Question No. 218 answered with Question No. 201.
Question No. 219 answered with Question No. 213.

Tax Code

Question No. 221 answered with Question No. 201.

Questions (220, 227, 228)

Alan Kelly

Question:

220. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Finance if he plans to apply a zero VAT rate on journalistic publications following the adoption of amendments to the European Union VAT directive at the December 2021 ECOFIN meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61660/21]

View answer

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

227. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 332 of 15 June 2021, if the recent agreement at European Council level on new VAT rules would, when implemented, allow for zero rating on the rental of disability aids. [61843/21]

View answer

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

228. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance the additional flexibilities, including options to zero rate goods and services that serve a social purpose, the recent agreement at European Council level on new VAT rules would, when implemented, allow for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61844/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 220, 227 and 228 together.

As the Deputies will be aware the Commission issued its original proposal to amend a Council directive on the common system of value added tax as regards rates of value added tax on 18 January 2018.

The compromise text agreed at ECOFIN has been amended significantly in comparison to the original proposal so the EU Parliament will once again be consulted for their opinion.

Once the Parliament has issued its opinion on the proposal, the Council will formally adopt the directive. It will then enter into force on the twentieth day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Officials in my Department will be reviewing the options now available to Ireland in setting VAT rates.

Future tax changes are generally taken in the context of the Budget. Deputies will be aware that my officials prepare a series of papers containing tax options for the Tax Strategy Group to be considered in the context of the budgetary process, alongside a wide range of submissions from various stakeholders and lobby groups.

Question No. 221 answered with Question No. 201.

Disability Services

Questions (222)

Patricia Ryan

Question:

222. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Finance if he has read the recently published report by the Ombudsman entitled Grounded: Unequal access for people with disabilities to personal transport schemes, a commentary by the Ombudsman; his plans to address the issues raised in the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61689/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am aware of the recent Ombudsman report and its findings, particularly in relation to the Disabled Drivers & Disabled Passengers Scheme, which provides relief from Vehicle Registration Tax and VAT on the purchase and use of an adapted car, as well as an exemption from motor tax and an annual fuel grant.

The Scheme is open to severely and permanently disabled persons as a driver or as a passenger and also to certain charitable organisations. In order to qualify for relief, the applicant must hold a Primary Medical Certificate issued by the relevant Senior Area Medical Officer (SAMO) or a Board Medical Certificate issued by the Disabled Driver Medical Board of Appeal. Certain other qualifying criteria apply in relation to the vehicle, in particular that it must be specially constructed or adapted for use by the applicant.

To qualify for a Primary Medical Certificate an applicant must be permanently and severely disabled, and satisfy at least one of the following medical criteria, in order to obtain a Primary Medical Certificate:

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

- be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

- be without both hands or without both arms;

- be without one or both legs;

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

- have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

The current medical criteria medical criteria were included in the Finance Act 2020, by way of amendment to Section 92 of the Finance Act 1989. This amendment arises from legal advice in light of the June 2020 Supreme Court judgement that the medical criteria in secondary legislation was not deemed to be invalid, nevertheless it was found to be inconsistent with the mandate provided in Section 92 of the Finance Act 1989 (primary legislation).

As the Deputy will appreciate this Scheme confers substantial benefits to eligible persons and changing the medical criteria to more general mobility-focused criteria, would raise the already considerable cost of the Scheme in terms of tax foregone to the Exchequer. Any increase in the cost of the Scheme would require a concomitant increase in tax, reduction in public expenditure, or increase in the Exchequer deficit.

While I am very aware of the importance of this scheme to those who benefit from it, I am also aware of the disquiet expressed by members of this house and others in respect of the difficulties around access to the scheme. The Ombudsman report highlights many of these same issues.

Accordingly, I gave a commitment to the House that a comprehensive review of the scheme, to include a broader review of mobility supports for persons with disabilities, would be undertaken.

In this context I have been working with my Government colleague, Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. We are both agreed that the review should be brought within the wider review that was commenced in March 2020 under the auspices of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy, to examine transport supports encompassing all Government funded transport and mobility schemes for people with disabilities. Its work was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Minister O’Gorman has confirmed that he has asked his officials to reconvene the working group established to carry out that review at the earliest opportunity and we are both agreed that this is the most appropriate forum for the review. With this in mind, officials from both my Department and Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth have met recently to discuss proposals for progressing the Disabled Drivers Scheme review within the wider review. My officials will continue to work closely with officials from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, to progress this review, and on foot of that will bring forward proposals for consideration.

Tax Data

Question No. 224 answered with Question No. 223.

Question No. 225 answered with Question No. 223.

Questions (223, 224, 225)

Carol Nolan

Question:

223. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Finance the total corporation tax receipts and the total tax receipts under all headings for each of the years 2010 to date in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61731/21]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

224. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Finance if a portion of corporation tax receipts was ring-fenced for capital expenditure for 2015 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61732/21]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

225. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Finance the estimated proportion of corporation tax receipts which was spent on capital expenditure for 2015 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61733/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 223 to 225, inclusive, together.

Corporation tax receipts are paid into the Central Fund along with other tax receipts. Issues from the Central Fund are used in the day-to-day running of the State and it is therefore not possible to link corporation tax revenue specifically to capital expenditure.

Tax revenue data is available from my Department’s databank at databank.finance.gov.ie.

The tax receipts from 2010 to end-November 2021 are reproduced below for the Deputy’s convenience.

Exchequer tax receipts, 2010 to end-November 2021, € thousands

[<a href="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/debates/questions/supportingDocumentation/2021-12-14_pq225-14-12-21_en.docx ">Exchequer Tax Receipts</a>

Question No. 224 answered with Question No. 223.
Question No. 225 answered with Question No. 223.

Tax Code

Question No. 227 answered with Question No. 220.

Questions (226)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

226. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Finance if correspondence from a person (details supplied) in relation to VAT in an area will be reviewed; the action his Department is taking to reduce VAT in relation to the matter raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61826/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the VAT rating of goods and services is subject to the requirements of the EU VAT Directive with which Irish VAT law must comply. Under the EU VAT Directive and Irish VAT legislation the supply of building materials is liable to VAT at the standard rate, currently 23%. Member states are not permitted to apply a VAT rate lower than the standard rate to building materials. By way of special derogation from the general rule, however, Ireland is permitted to continue its long-standing practice of applying a reduced rate, currently 13.5%, to the supply of ready-to-pour concrete and certain concrete blocks but there are strict restrictions on this derogation, including that the rate cannot be reduced below 12%.

On the suggestion of a VAT compensation mechanism for purchasers, I am advised by Revenue that this is generally contrary to the operation of VAT. It is for this reason that Ireland has not introduced any new VAT refund orders since the 1980’s and any changes to VAT refunds since then have been either by EU requirement or making minor changes to existing orders.

As a general point of EU law, VAT is a tax on consumption and is applied to supplies being made by a person and not to supplies received by a person. For that reason, it is not permissible to apply different VAT rates to different customers. Therefore, it would not be possible to accept the proposal to apply a different rate of VAT to building materials supplied to particular categories of buyers, such as individual self-builders.

In relation to self-build properties, substantial support is already available through the tax system for first-time buyers, including those self-building their first home. The Help to Buy (HTB) 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 legislation. Section 477C Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 outlines the definitions and conditions that apply to the HTB scheme.

Finally, the Deputy has raised the matter of the VAT rate on new builds in Northern Ireland. When it was within the EU, the UK, by way of special derogation from the general rule, was permitted to continue its long-standing practice of applying a zero rate of VAT to the supply of certain residential buildings.

Question No. 227 answered with Question No. 220.
Top
Share