I move amendment No. 140:
In page 182, before section 95, to insert the following new section:
"95.—Relief from stamp duty shall be afforded to community based sporting organisations on property transactions for the purposes of the organisation.".
I spoke about this amendment yesterday. It is proposed on foot of representations I received from a GAA club in the south. This situation may arise from time to time as a result of changes made to stamp duty regulations in recent years. It used not be a problem. GAA clubs may not have full charitable status for the purposes of the payment of stamp duty. If a club buys a site to develop for its own purposes, it must pay stamp duty on the transaction, with the consequent additional expense. I have asked the Minister whether it is possible to work out a scheme to recognise the community and non-profit making nature of the GAA. It is inappropriate that it should be charged stamp duty and a way should be found to relieve it. One possible way would be to have the stamp duty payment deferred, unless the land involved was sold for development purposes, which is not a usual occurrence but it may happen occasionally. Given that the sports capital programme funds development by clubs, this proposal would make a lot of sense.
I ask for the Minister's comments on a related matter. My understanding is that there is a stamp duty avoidance scheme, whereby if a developer has land and that land is built upon, subject to a licensing rather than an outright purchasing arrangement, it is possible to develop a scheme to avoid the payment of stamp duty. I am aware of a number of deals done in my constituency which are subject to a licensing arrangement, particularly where it has been impossible to meet agreements with developers for the purchase of school sites. I have noted that in a number of instances the Department of Education and Science has allowed a site to be built upon under a licensing arrangement. It has been suggested to me that part of the motive for this may be that developers are looking for so much money for sites because the Government has no control over the value of sites for community or social building purposes such as schools. I am also informed that if structured correctly, this could be advantageous in terms of the payment of stamp duty.
I am puzzled as to the reason a GAA community facility has to bear the full brunt of stamp duty. While I accept that in recent years the Revenue has introduced anti-avoidance measures to stop people evading stamp duty, has the Minister had an opportunity to reconsider the issue? Are developers using licensing arrangements to avoid stamp duty and, if so, what is the cost to the Exchequer of the tax foregone?