I apologise for the absence of the Minister for Finance who is at a Cabinet meeting. He will be here later and will respond to the debate.
I am pleased to put before the Seanad the Finance Bill, 1997. It will enable the Government to reward work, safeguard jobs, reduce business tax and stimulate enterprise. It gives effect to the single biggest set of personal and corporation tax reductions in the past 20 years or more and its passage will secure a substantial increase in after tax income for the tax paying public. It introduces a number of important new reliefs in the areas of education and training. As a recent ESRI report pointed out, investment in the past in the enhancement of skills and knowledge has paid substantial dividends by way of accelerated economic growth.
Naturally, as one would expect, this year's Bill also closes off a series of tax loopholes both in indirect and direct tax areas. It also includes a package of measures to further combat illegal tobacco sales, thus safeguarding a revenue source for the Exchequer and cutting off a revenue source for many criminal gangs, particularly in Dublin.
The Bill also contains a further series of preconsolidation provisions which prepare the way for the Taxes Consolidation Bill, the draft of which the Minister for Finance published on 16 April. The text runs to two hefty volumes containing over 1,100 sections and 29 Schedules and is a testimony to the Revenue Commissioners and their joint venture with the private sector in producing the Bill in line with the target set by the Minister in his first budget in 1995.
Sections 1 to 3 provide for the substantial increases in personal allowances and exemption limits provided for in the budget in addition to a reduction in the standard rate of income tax and the widening of the standard rate bands.
Section 4 meets a commitment in Partnership 2000 by exempting the first three weeks of disability benefit payments from income tax in the 1997-98 tax year and the first six weeks from the 1998-99 tax year onwards.
Section 5 and a number of later sections incorporate into the Bill the existing provisions on income tax, capital gains tax, capital acquisitions tax, probate tax and stamp duty contained in the Family Law Act, 1995, and the Family Law (Divorce) Act, 1996. This will ensure that these tax provisions will be found now in the Finance Acts for the guidance of taxpayers and practitioners.
Section 6 introduces a change in the tax procedures for employing a person in the home. At present, an employer is obliged to register and operate PAYE where payments in excess of £6 per week are made to an employee. The limit is £1 per week where the employee has another employment. These limits date from the 1960s. Section 6 increases these limits to £30 per week where an individual employs a person to work in a domestic capacity in the individual's private home and that person is the only person employed in that capacity. This will remove red tape from certain domestic employment situations and make it easier to employ such domestic help. A simplified arrangement is also being provided for in respect of registration and payment of employers' PRSI for these domestic situations and the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social Welfare will be producing a leaflet on the new system in the near future. I hope this initiative will be welcomed by the House.
Section 7 relates to tax relief for third level fees for undergraduates and confirms that fees paid for qualifying part-time third level courses by non-earning spouses can be set against their earning spouses' taxable income. The section also allows for retention of tax relief for those progressing from certificates to diplomas to degrees within the same course. It also extends relief to those pursuing approved distance education courses provided in the State by colleges in another EU member state which meet certain codes of standards. Section 8 contains a new tax relief at the standard rate for those undertaking certain IT and foreign language courses in order to develop their employment skills.
Sections 9, 10, 31 and 75 give effect to the package of tax reliefs announced in the budget to encourage the newly established developing companies market. These reliefs cover access to the BES for DCM companies and a special increase in the investment limits on special portfolio investment accounts where DCM investments are concerned. This increase, which will be available for three years, is aimed to help the DCM get off the ground.
Section 11 will curb the use of long-standing tax relief for scholarship income as a means by which companies can provide tax free income to, for example, directors, under the guise of scholarship schemes for their children. There is no wish to interfere with genuine schemes or with the tax position of the recipient. For that reason, the section continues the current exemption in respect of the recipients of scholarship income. It provides, however, for the taxation of the income as a benefit-in-kind in the hands of the parent if the scheme under which the scholarship is provided does not disburse at least 75 per cent of the scholarship income to persons not connected to the employer providing the scholarship. The new rules apply to all new schemes from 26 March 1997 and to existing schemes from 6 April 1998.
Sections 12 and 13 are technical amendments to provisions dealing with the taxation of severance payments and to the withholding tax deduction system for sub-contractors. Section 14 introduces a new relief aimed at assisting certain firms to adapt to a change in their competitive environment. It provides that where a company restructures its operations by agreement with the workforce to secure its survival, income tax relief can be made available on certain lump sums paid by the company to employees to achieve and compensate for a substantial pay restructuring. The maximum lump sum to be tax relieved is £6,000 plus £200 per year of service up to an overall maximum of £10,000. The pay cut involved must be at least 10 per cent of average pay for the previous two years and the reduction must remain in force for at least five years. The payment of normal general pay round increases and increments will not affect the availability of the relief. The proposed restructuring will have to be certified by the Minister for Enterprise and Employment, on advice from the Labour Relations Commission, as being necessary and effective to meet the new situation. The Minister has been conscious of the need to target this relief on the essential function of saving jobs and to minimise the tax planning aspects and is happy that this has been achieved.
Section 16 provides for tax relief on certain corporate and personal donations of £1,000 or more to publicly funded third level institutions. The donations must be in respect of defined projects in the areas of research, acquisition of capital equipment, infrastructural development in certain specified institutions and the provision of facilities to meet defined skills needs. Projects in these areas must be approved by the Minister for Education, following consultation with the Higher Education Authority on the basis of guidelines to be agreed with the Minister for Finance. The guidelines will deal with the approval process, the definition of skills needs and the specification of approved infrastructural developments. In addition, section 25 introduces a facility whereby tax relief can be provided for certain financing arrangements for the construction of third level facilities where the project is approved by the Ministers for Education and Finance and where at least half of the expenditure involved is met by private donations. This relief is being introduced on a pilot basis for three years and will operate where it can be shown there are benefits to the State by using such financing arrangements.
Section 17 provides for the extension of tax relief on expenditure on the repair, maintenance or restoration of approved heritage buildings and gardens. Relief will be given for aggregate expenditure of up to £5,000 per annum on alarms, public liability insurance and restoration of approved art contents on condition that the contents are kept on display for a minimum period of two years after restoration. It also provides that any qualifying expenditure which is unrelieved in any one year can be carried forward for up to two subsequent years. In addition, section 137 brings the current 90 days per year public access requirement for the purposes of the CAT relief down to 60 days per year and, thus, into line with the income tax access requirement. This is a sensible and useful simplification.
A number of sections deal with farmer taxation. Stock relief for farmers will continue at 25 per cent for a two year period from 6 April 1997 to 5 April 1999 by virtue of section 18. Section 19 provides that stock relief at a rate of 100 per cent will be available to farmers under 35 years of age who, between 6 April 1997 and 5 April 1999, either qualify for the scheme of installation aid for young farmers or become chargeable for the first time to income tax in respect of profits or gains from farming and meet specific training requirements. This special relief will be available to qualifying farmers for two years.
Section 20 and the Fourth Schedule introduce a new ‘year one' capital allowance of 50 per cent for expenditure incurred on necessary farm pollution control measures up to an expenditure limit of £20,000. The balance of expenditure will be written off over the following seven years in accordance with the normal wear and tear allowances. The scheme applies for three years from 6 April 1997 to 5 April 2000. The Fourth Schedule sets out the farm buildings and structures to which the allowances for pollution control will apply. Section 126 continues the two thirds stamp duty relief for young trained farmers in respect of agricultural land and buildings transferred to them for a further three years up to 31 December 1999.
Sections 21, 22 and 23 relate to the capital allowances regime for motor vehicles, rented accommodation, and the application of balancing charges in certain cases. Section 24 deals with an abuse of capital allowances for hotels. These allowances, which can be offset against all the income of investors, apply at the rate of 15 per cent of expenditure for the first six years and 10 per cent in year seven — 100 per cent in total. Under the scheme, the investors claim the capital allowances for the seven years and, at the end of the period, are each given ownership of a nominated suite in the "hotel"— in effect privately owned suites for private use located in what had been until then a hotel building. The section will deny capital allowances to investors in such cases with appropriate transitional arrangements for projects where contracts were signed or applications for planning permission were received by the local authority before 26 March 1997.
Section 26 extends the deadline for tax relief under the general urban renewal scheme from 31 July 1997 to 31 July 1998 subject to certain conditions. Section 26 also makes provision for the designation by order of areas immediately adjacent to seven regional airports as enterprise areas where a viable qualifying proposal has been put forward for location in these areas. The airports are at Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Knock, Sligo and Waterford. The designation order will be made by the Minister for Finance after consultation with the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications. The section also provides for the designation of three new enterprise areas in Cherry Orchard-Gallanstown, Finglas and Rosslare Harbour as described in the Tenth Schedule.
Section 28 allows the Minister to extend by order the definition of the Custom House Docks area for the purposes of the IFSC tax regime. It is proposed to extend the area to include the block bounded by Commons Street, Mayor Street, Guild Street and the North Wall Quay, a block of land immediately to the east of the original Custom House Docks area site which houses the IFSC. Sections 32, 36, 66, 67 and 74 deal with a number of IFSC tax issues to provide continued certainty beyond 2005 for the tax transparency of collective funds managed by certified IFSC and Shannon companies and the exemption of securities issued by such companies from withholding tax and to modify a number of provisions in relation to the tax treatment of certain life assurance policies issued by IFSC life assurance companies.
Section 29 provides for relief for pre-trading non-capital expenses which was announced in the budget. Expenses which are wholly and exclusively incurred for the purposes of a trade or profession not more than three years prior to the commencement of trading and which would have been allowed if incurred after trading commenced will be deductible. This important new relief will be available for new businesses, whether incorporated or not, which commence trading on or after 22 January 1997.
Section 30 amends the relief for investment in films which is known as "section 35" relief. It is proposed to increase the existing cap on "section 35" investment in any one film from £7.5 million to £15 million where at least 50 per cent of the "section 35" investment is made by corporate bodies. The section will also increase the current £6 million annual investment limit for corporate bodies to £8 million in total and the limit for corporate investment in any one film from £2 million to £3 million. In addition, it is proposed to allow an additional 10 per cent "section 35" finance for films in respect of which post-production, such as editing, dubbing or mixing, is carried out in the State. The section also provides for a number of changes to the film certification process operated by the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. These are designed to strengthen his powers in this regard and to prevent abuse of the system by certain applicants for relief.
Sections 33 to 35 together with sections 69 and 161 of the Bill deal with strips of interest bearing securities. Strips are created when interest bearing securities are split into their component parts, individual yearly interest elements and final principal element, the rights to which can then be separately sold and traded in their own right as zero coupon securities. The introduction of such a facility for Government securities has been recommended by the NTMA as a necessary step in widening and deepening the market in Irish Government securities to match similar market developments in other countries. However, within the present tax code, the creation of strips could open up the possibility for tax deferral and avoidance in certain circumstances, especially in the case of individuals, non-trading corporates and life assurance companies. The Bill sets out tax rules to deal with the creation of, and transactions in, strips to minimise the risk of tax planning. This will involve taxing the growth in the value of these zero coupon securities on an annual basis rather than when the gain or income is realised on redemption.
Sections 35 and 69 also address a potential avoidance mechanism involving equity and Government security swaps in the case of certain taxpayers.
Section 39 deals with the tax treatment of share buybacks involving quoted companies. Under the new rules, such a buy-back will not be treated as a distribution of profits so that a tax credit will no longer apply to the payments made by the company to the shareholders concerned. Consequently, the sale of shares to the company by the shareholders will be regarded as falling within the capital gains tax provisions. This will protect the position of the Exchequer in such buy-back situations.
Section 40 exempts from tax employment grants which are made to employers by the National Rehabilitation Board under the employment support scheme and by the Rehab Group under the pilot programme for people with disabilities. Similar exemptions have been granted in previous years for employment grants in other areas.
Section 41 closes off a loophole in the operation of tax relief on employer contributions to occupational pension schemes to ensure that relief is only given where contributions are actually paid into the schemes and not where they are merely payable, as some tax advisers have sought to claim.
Sections 42 to 44 close off a gap in the capital gains tax legislation which allows certain Irish companies to avoid paying tax on capital gains on the disposal of assets by transferring the residence of the company abroad, usually to a tax haven, shortly before the disposal takes place. If left unchecked, this loophole could give rise to a significant loss of tax revenue. The provisions, however, will not apply to companies which are owned and controlled by non-resident shareholders from a country with which Ireland has a double tax treaty.
Section 50 makes a number of changes to existing approved profit sharing schemes, in particular the minimum period for individuals to hold shares in order to gain full income tax relief is reduced from five to three years, and part-time employees must in future be eligible to participate in such schemes on the same basis as fulltime employees.
Section 51 and the Third Schedule allow for the establishment of a new form of employee share ownership trust under which, subject to certain conditions, a company and its employees may set up a trust, whether controlled by the employees or otherwise, to enable the employees to build up a long-term holding in their employer company via the trust. The establishment of the trust is a matter for negotiation between an employer and employees and the section permits certain tax reliefs once the trust is established.
Sections 49 and 52 to 58 deal with the Dublin Docklands Authority. Section 49 exempts the authority from corporation tax and capital gains tax. Section 128 exempts from stamp duty land purchases by the authority. Sections 52 to 58 provide for a scheme of tax reliefs for the development of the docklands area. The Minister announced in his budget that a package of reliefs would be put in place for the Dublin Docklands Authority when the consultants drawing up the draft master plan for the area finalised their report. While the report is not yet completed, there has been extensive consultation with both the consultants and the Department of the Environment on the appropriate structure and form of reliefs to be put in place for the development of the area and the proposals now put forward will be consistent with the report.
The Bill provides that the new Dublin Docklands Authority will recommend that the Minister for the Environment designate particular geographical sub-areas of the Dublin docklands area where one or more or all of the various tax incentives should apply. The Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Finance will then, if they agree with the recommendations, apply the various incentives by way of orders.
The menu of tax incentives in terms of capital allowances, rent and rates relief is broadly the same as those already applying in the Custom House Docks area. The tax package will apply initially for a period of three years, i.e., from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 2000. The Minister is confident that these reliefs will help reinvigorate the area in combination with other public and private sector projects and that we will see over the next 15 years a transformation of the area in terms of jobs, infrastructure and the provision of amenities for the benefit of the local population.
Section 59 reduces the standard rate of corporation tax from 38 per cent to 36 per cent while under section 60 the lower rate on the first £50,000 of taxable income is being reduced from 30 per cent to 28 per cent. The reduced rates apply from 1 April 1997. Provision is also being made in section 37 for a reduction in the tax credit on dividend payments to shareholders in line with these rate reductions. Section 60 also clears up a technical problem with the formula for the application of the 28 per cent rate of corporation tax which came to light some months ago and which has already been addressed by Revenue.
Section 61 provides for the removal of the VHI's exemption from corporation tax under section 80 of the Corporation Tax Act, 1976, with effect from 1 March 1997. This is necessary to ensure a common corporation tax regime for all health insurers operating in the Irish market.
Section 129 removes the £1 duty payable on non-life insurance policies from policies offered by authorised insurers in respect of health insurance business covered by section 2 of the Health Insurance Act, 1994.
Section 62 deals with the tax treatment of the profits of harbour authorities which have been reconstituted as harbour companies under the Harbours Act, 1996. These companies are now being brought into the corporation tax net in line with the general policy of subjecting commercial State bodies to tax in the same way as private concerns. However, the Government has decided to afford the harbour companies an appropriate transitional period and not to apply full taxation until 2001 to allow the companies time to adapt to the new situation. A similar tax régime will be extended to privately owned ports in the transitional period 1997-2000, inclusive. Harbour authorities which are not vested as companies will retain their exemption from tax for the present. The harbour companies which are being brought into the tax net in this way currently handle over 90 per cent of commercial port traffic. Section 48 and the Fifth Schedule also provide that the transfer of assets from the former harbour authorities to the new harbour companies does not in itself trigger a tax charge.
Section 63 exempts the Irish Take-over Panel from corporation tax. Sections 64 and 65 extend the tax relief on corporate donations to First Step and to the Enterprise Trust until 31 December 1999 in both cases. This is in recognition of the contribution to enterprise development and employment made by both bodies and the commitment to continued relief in Partnership 2000 in the case of the Enterprise Trust.
Sections 70 to 78 deal with capital gains tax, principally the cut in the CGT reduced rate from 27 per cent to 26 per cent, a reduction to three years in the trading period for qualification for the reduced rate, the closing off of certain CGT loopholes, a relief from CGT on life interests in certain heritage houses and objects and the treatment of free shares on demutualisation of life companies. As I mentioned earlier, the application of exemption from CGT in certain family law cases and to the DCM is also dealt with here.
Section 77 provides for CGT roll-over relief on the disposal of development land which is an asset of an authorised racecourse once the proceeds of the sale are reinvested in the assets of such a racecourse. This relief will apply from 6 April 1995.
Sections 82 to 94 relate to excise matters. The sections firstly confirm the budget day excise changes on tobacco and road fuels. They also deal with a number of other technical items including a provision the effect of which will restrict a rebate of duty on recycled waste oil to such oil used for any purpose other than motor fuel. More importantly, sections 86 to 93, inclusive, provide considerably increased powers to support the increasingly more successful fight against illegal tobacco sales. The sections provide for increased penalties, new powers of arrest and detention, new offences aimed at illegal wholesaling as well as retail street vending of illicit tobacco products, improved seizure powers and more streamlined court arrangements in certain cases. These new powers were drawn up by the Revenue Commissioners in consultation with the Garda Síochána and are an indication of the Government's determination to do all that is necessary to ensure that this problem is dealt with firmly and in an effective way. This is, of course, a Europe wide problem and with my agreement the Revenue Commissioners have taken up the issue at that level with a view to having all aspects of the matter examined. The Commission has now agreed with member states to establish a high level group for this purpose.
Sections 95 to 114 include a series of important changes to the VAT codes, particularly in the area of property and telecommunications. The purpose of these changes is to combat avoidance and to protect Exchequer resources. The provisions on telecommunications also ensure that there is a level playing field between EU and non-EU suppliers with regard to VAT.
The Explanatory Memorandum sets out in some detail the reasons for and the precise details of the new VAT regime in both property and telecommunications so I will not dwell at length on these aspects. However, some brief elaboration is required. With regard to VAT on property, the Bill seeks to ensure that the tax cannot be avoided by VAT exempt bodies such as banks and insurers. The amendment will close off loopholes which, over time, could cost significant amounts to the Exchequer. The manner in which these loopholes are to be closed partly involves an EU derogation for what is known as a reverse charge mechanism whereby the customer is responsible for the VAT charge. The Government has applied for this approval and the request is currently before the EU. When granted, the reverse charge will apply from the date of publication of the Finance Bill, 26 March 1997. The way the loopholes are being closed is explained in detail in the Explanatory Memorandum.
The telecommunications changes are aimed at eliminating a tax-based distortion of competition arising largely from the fact that non-EU suppliers of telecommunications services are not, at present, liable for VAT on services supplied within the EU. The Bill provides that, for purposes of VAT, the place of supply of international telecommunications services will, in general, be shifted to where the customer is located rather than from where the services are being supplied. A reverse charge mechanism will be introduced for business customers who will be obliged to account for VAT. Non-EU telecommunications operators who supply non-business customers in the State will be required to register and account for VAT on those supplies. The change, which has EU approval and is being implemented in all 15 member states, will come into operation in Ireland on 1 July 1997.
The Bill also addresses certain problems in the operation of the VAT refund retail export scheme. A number of agencies operate schemes whereby non-EU visitors may claim VAT refunds on purchases of goods which they take home. Arising from a recent court case on the operation of one such scheme, the Bill will permit traders and agencies to zero rate goods sold to tourists only when certain conditions are fulfilled. These conditions concern, for example, the time limit for export of the goods, the exchange rate to be used when a repayment is being made and the information to be given to the visitor about fees or commissions being charged.
Section 101 requires that traders selling horticultural produce to final consumers must register for VAT once the standard VAT registration threshold of £40,000 in sales per annum is exceeded. This threshold is reduced to £20,000 if the trader is also providing agricultural services. Previously, certain traders had been using the farmer flat rate VAT mechanism to avoid registration. Section 113 reduces the VAT rate on certain horticultural products from 21 per cent to 12.5 per cent. These sections will have effect from a date specified by ministerial order.
Section 110 provides for an effective exemption from VAT for commercial childminding. This will be achieved in two ways. First, by applying the exemption to child care facilities covered by recent regulations made under the Childcare Act, 1991. Second, by clarifying that the exemption for educational services applies to children's and young persons' education generally, to cover facilities which might not be regarded as child care within the meaning of the Child Care Act. The exemption will be effective from 1 May 1997, the start of the current VAT period. It brings our treatment of child care into line with many other member states and will comply with EU VAT law as recently clarified for the Revenue Commissioners by the EU Commission.
The Bill deals with a number of technical VAT measures to close off certain minor loopholes in the system, to simplify the administration of the system and to comply with EU rulings in the Court of Justice.
Sections 115 to 122 enact the new stamp duty regime given effect in the budget whereby three new rates of stamp duty have been introduced in respect of residential property valued above £150,000. The budget measures provided for a transitional exemption from the new rates for contracts signed on or before budget day and executed before 1 April 1997. In response to representations this period has now been extended to 1 May 1997. Section 124 of the Bill confirms that relief from stamp duty for certain large new houses contained in section 112 of the Finance Act, 1990, does not extend to secondhand houses.
Section 125 extends the exemption from stamp duty, which American depositary receipts (ADRs) enjoy, to shares quoted on a recognised Canadian stock exchange. ADRs are a means of facilitating companies raising capital in the US and Canada. Furthermore, this section removes a barrier to offshore funds relocating to Ireland by exempting the transfer of certain financial instruments from stamp duty.
Section 131 abolishes residential property tax with effect from 5 April 1997. The existing tax clearance arrangements in the case of sales of houses above a specified value threshold are, however, being maintained in order to assist in the collection of RPT arrears. Under the legislation, the specified value threshold for clearance purposes is the actual RPT value threshold, i.e. £101,000 in 1996. This threshold will continue to be adjusted annually by the increase in the Department of the Environment's new house price index. The new threshold, which applies to house sale contracts executed on or after 5 April 1997, is £115,000.
Sections 133 to 143 deal with various aspects of capital acquisitions taxation. Section 138 increases the relief from CAT in respect of the family house when transferred from one sibling to another from 60 per cent of the value of the house or £60,000, whichever is the lesser, to 60 per cent or £80,000, whichever is the lesser.
Sections 139 to 141 increase the rate of business relief for capital acquisitions tax purposes from 75 per cent to 90 per cent for all qualifying business assets, provided these assets are retained in the business for a period of ten years or more after the transfer. In line with this increase, the relief in respect of agricultural land, buildings, livestock and machinery transferred by gift or inheritance is also being increased to 90 per cent in section 134. Business relief is also being extended to situations involving the termination of a life interest in land, building, machinery or plant used for the purpose of a business but which have been held outside the business.
The CAT code currently exempts Government and other public sector securities from CAT in the hands of foreign beneficiaries subject, in certain cases, to a minimum holding period of three years prior to the gift or inheritance. The exemption is designed to encourage foreign investment in such securities. Section 135 closes off the unintended use of this exemption in certain cases to avoid CAT where property is transferred out of a trust after the death of a disponer or on the change of domicile, or ordinary residence, of the disponer. The other sections deal with family law issues and CAT which I referred to earlier.
Sections 144 to 156 contain extensive pre-consolidation provisions which are intended to rewrite, simplify and codify existing tax measures in certain areas in a comprehensible way prior to consolidation in the forthcoming Taxes Consolidation Bill. I wish to make clear that no substantive change is involved but, as the House will appreciate, it would not be unusual for some parts of the tax legislation to need a good spring clean before they can be incorporated in a consolidation Bill. Thus, in the case of mortgage interest relief and the Temple Bar reliefs, the existing legislation has become complex and convoluted as changes were made over the years. For example, in the case of mortgage interest relief the transitional provisions for standard rating the relief are not needed in a consolidation Bill since full standard rating now applies.
The Finance Bill also includes numerous preconsolidation provisions to amend incorrect or out of date references, update the wording of particular reliefs, for example, for genderproofing reasons and to repeal redundant or spent provisions.
As I mentioned earlier, a draft of the Consolidated Bill was launched last month and it has been the Minister's policy to publish as much as possible of the consolidation measures in advance of the Bill and the Revenue Commissioners have hosted a number of information seminars for members of the Oireachtas and tax practitioners to acquaint them in advance with progress on this major undertaking.
Sections 157 to 160 deal with several tax administration measures. Section 158 relates to the publication of the names of tax defaulters. At present, the list of tax defaulters is published on an annual basis in the Revenue Commissioners' Annual Report. The list includes all those upon whom a fine or other penalty was imposed by a court and all those in whose case the Revenue Commissioners accepted a settlement in excess of £10,000. Settlements are not published where the amount is less than £10,000 or where the taxpayer has, in advance of any Revenue investigation, voluntarily furnished complete information relating to undisclosed tax liabilities. This section proposes to drop the requirement to publish in the Commissioners' Annual Report. Instead, the Commissioners will publish the lists on a quarterly basis. Quarterly publication will ensure more speedy and up to date information.
Section 159 provides for a new procedure for the issue of ID cards to Revenue field officers.
Section 160 applies tax clearance to applications for moneylenders' licences and credit and mortgage intermediaries authorisations under the Consumer Credit Act, 1995.
Section 162 enables the Minister for Finance to lend to the Post Office Savings Bank for the purpose of buying, holding or selling Government securities. This amendment will assist the NTMA in managing the market in such securities. Section 163 enables the NTMA to act as agent for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry in relation to the management of borrowing for the purposes of FEOGA schemes.
The remaining sections are the standard provisions which appear in each year's Bill on the care and management of taxation, the capital services redemption account and the necessary citation clauses.
I hope that the House will support all the measures in this Bill and also the programme of the Government in putting these forward. I commend the Bill to the House.