Public Sector Pensions Expenditure

Ceisteanna (91)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

91. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide in tabular form the number of public servants in receipt of annual gross public sector pensions of between 0 to 10,000 euro, 10,001 to 20,000 euro, 20,001 to 30,000 euro, 30,001 to 40,000 euro, 40,001 to 50,000 euro, 50,001 to 60,000 euro, 60,001 to 70,000 euro, 70,001 to 80,000 euro, 80,000 to 90,000, 90,000 to 100,000 euro, 100,001 to 110,000 euro, 110,001 to 120,000 euro, 120,001 to 130,000 euro, 130,001 to 140,000 euro, 140,001 to 150,000 euro, 150,001 to 160,000 euro, 160,001 and above; and if these figures include local authorities, vocational educational committees, commercial semi State companies, non-commercial State agencies/bodies public sector retirees. [49825/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

With regard to the staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the calculation and payment of superannuation benefits is a matter for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. Staff of the former Agency for Personal Service Overseas (APSO) were integrated into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2003. Two former APSO staff and a spouse of a deceased APSO staff member are in receipt of public sector pensions paid by my Department. The requested information in respect of those pensions is set out in the table.

Number

Annual Pension (range)

1

€19,001 – €20,000

1

€5,001 - €6,000

1

€0 - €2,000

There are no State agencies, offices or bodies under the aegis of my Department.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (92)

Ciara Conway

Ceist:

92. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Finance if he will introduce the necessary changes in order to give full tax equality to same-sex couples; if will provide a timescale for any introduction of this measure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49101/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

In bringing forward the necessary legislation to provide for the changes to tax legislation arising from the enactment of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, (the Civil Partnership Act), I advised this House that the new legislation (subsequently Finance (No. 3) Act 2011) would ensure that registered civil partners receive the same tax treatment as married couples in respect of income tax, stamp duty, capital acquisitions tax, capital gains tax and VAT. This comprehensive body of legislation recognised the new status of civil partnerships for tax purposes and set out the various rights, entitlements and obligations that apply to civil partners with regard to taxation. For example, it allowed civil partners to avail of the tax bands and tax credits, which are available to married couples. It also provided for similar capital taxes and stamp duty reliefs on the transfer of property by gift or inheritance. As a result, transfers of property between civil partners now qualify for the same exemption from stamp duty as is given to married couples.

This legislation provides for equitable tax treatment for same-sex couples in a registered civil partnership. Where individuals choose to cohabit rather than enter a civil partnership then they continue to be treated for tax purposes as single persons, such tax treatment being consistent with the treatment of opposite-sex cohabitants. Other information on tax and civil partners including ‘Frequently Asked Questions on Taxation and Civil Partnership’ is available on the Revenue website www.revenue.ie.

Fuel Sales

Ceisteanna (93)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

93. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance the total number of litres of motor fuel, petrol and diesel, sold in the State in the five most recent years for which figures are available; the total amount of State revenue directly generated by these sales; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49112/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the number of litres of petrol and diesel that were sold in the state in the past five years is not available. However, the number of litres of petrol and diesel where Mineral Oil Tax was paid in the calendar years 2007 to 2011 is as follows:

Year

Petrol

Auto Diesel

-

Litres

Litres

2007

2,377,727,280

3,025,245,030

2008

2,310,695,880

2,959,932,690

2009

2,117,044,957

2,714,349,687

2010

1,930,179,524

2,559,664,467

2011

1,829,164,922

2,563,433,251

The revenue generated for the State from these commodities in the calendar years 2007 to 2011 in respect of Mineral Oil Tax, Carbon Tax and Value Added Tax is as follows:

Petrol

MOT

Carbon Tax

VAT (Estimated)

Total

Year

€m

€m

€m

2007

1,050.7

-

465.2

1,515.9

2008

1,046.3

-

485.9

1,532.2

2009

1,074.5

-

419.0

1,493.5

2010

981.2

65.1

438.8

1,485.1

2011

992.6

60.1

459.0

1,511.7

Auto Diesel

MOT

Carbon Tax

VAT (Estimated)

Total

Year

€m

€m

€m

€m

2007

1,076.3

- €m

57.0

1,133.3

2008

1,051.9

-

64.6

1,116.5

2009

1,060.3

-

49.4

1,109.7

2010

1,040.0

98.4

55.5

1,193.9

2011

1,078.3

97.5

62.0

1,237.8

Please note that the VAT receipts are estimated, as the VAT returns do not require the yield from a particular sector or sub-sector of trade to be identified and the actual VAT yield for each category cannot therefore be determined.

Credit Unions Services

Ceisteanna (94)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

94. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of credit unions that operate debit cards for their customers; the reasons a credit union (details supplied) had to discontinue the debit cards used by its customers. [49119/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Under the Exemptions from Additional Services Requirements Regulations (SI 223 of 2004, SI 107 of 2007 and SI 838 of 2007), credit unions can provide ATM and third party payment services to members. This enables credit unions to provide card services to their members. The Central Bank has advised me that 46 credit unions reported on the 2011 Credit Union Annual Return that they provide such services. These services do not require approval from the Central Bank. However, when providing these services to members, credit unions must ensure that they comply with all relevant legal and regulatory requirements, including the requirements of the Credit Union Act, 1997. It is also incumbent on credit unions to ensure that they are operationally capable of providing such services without placing undue risk on members’ savings. The Central Bank has stated that it cannot comment on matters in relation to individual credit unions. Any regulatory action by the Central Bank is taken with the specific purpose of protecting members’ savings.

Departmental Staff Redeployment

Ceisteanna (95)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

95. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of posts and the locations of the posts expected to be filled from the existing Revenue panel for administrative officers in audit and compliance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49156/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by the Office of the Revenue Commissioners that they undertake regular workforce planning analyses to identify key posts and skills that require to be filled to enable them to deliver on their current and developing strategies. The Revenue Commissioners are in on-going discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on their immediate and medium term resource requirements.

Notwithstanding the need to reduce public service numbers generally, an effective tax collection system is an essential element of our fiscal consolidation requirements. In that context, it is important that the Revenue Commissioners have the capacity to recruit staff with key skills and expertise not available within the existing public service. To address skills gaps and deficits that are emerging, and the limited availability of staff from elsewhere within the public service with audit and compliance skills and experience, Revenue was recently granted sanction to undertake an open recruitment competition for Administrative Officer (Audit & Investigation).

In line with the Government policy on public service numbers, and the moratorium on recruitment, the specific sanction of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is required to fill posts in the public service. Public Service bodies are required to refer to the public service resource panel in the filling of any such posts in the first instance. Where critical posts cannot be filled from within existing resources, or through redeployment from within the public sector, a public service body may, subject to sanction from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, fill posts by open recruitment. As the Revenue Commissioners are obliged to refer to the public service resource panel to fill posts in the first instance, and the resource panel is an evolving source, it is not possible to confirm how many new staff Revenue will be in a position to recruit from the current open Administrative Officer (Audit & Investigation) panel or where those posts may be located.

Pension Provisions

Ceisteanna (96)

Robert Dowds

Ceist:

96. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Finance the rate at which the pension provisions of senior managers in the banks in which the State has a stake will be taxed; and if he has considered levying a high rate of tax on these pension provisions in order to provide some measure of social equity. [49158/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The position is that the rates of taxation which would apply in respect of the income of any pensioner, irrespective of their previous employment, is determined by the level of the income they receive, their personal circumstances, and that individual’s entitlements to deductions, credits and reliefs. Income Tax and Universal Social Charge will be deducted at source using the existing rates and bands set out in current legislation. It is also a longstanding practice of the Minister for Finance not to comment, in advance of the Budget, on any tax matters that might be the subject of Budget decisions.

Fuel Laundering

Ceisteanna (97)

Michael Conaghan

Ceist:

97. Deputy Michael Conaghan asked the Minister for Finance the consideration that has been given to ending the price differential in diesel prices in order to tackle fuel laundering and if he will consider an alternative rebate or tax deduction mechanism. [49162/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

My understanding of the Deputy’s question is that it envisages a movement away from the current system of marking of oil to which a reduced rate of tax applies to one in which certain users would be given refunds of part of the mineral oil tax paid by them in respect of fuel used for non-auto purposes. The issue of the introduction of a rebate scheme for users of marked gas oil has been addressed in previous parliamentary debates. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a change to a system of this nature would involve the establishment of an expensive repayments system and would give rise to significant costs and place an administrative burden on oil traders, users and the Revenue Commissioners. It would also pose significant cash-flow costs for those currently using marked gas oil. Marked gas oil has a wide range of uses such as the propulsion of trains, the operation of agricultural, construction and industrial machinery, commercial sea-navigation (including fishing) and for commercial and home heating purposes. Any change in the existing system would therefore impact across a wide range of users.

Fuel laundering is a priority for the Revenue Commissioners who are tackling the problem on a number of fronts. For example, new and enhanced licensing provisions have been introduced for the sale of marked gas oil and auto-fuel. In addition, from January 2013, all fuel traders will make monthly returns to Revenue on their fuel stocks and transactions, enabling Revenue to identify unusual or suspicious patterns of activity. Revenue is also collaborating with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in the UK to ensure we tackle the problem in a consistent and complementary way and the two administrations are working together to seek a better marker. Revenue continues to enforce the regulations actively at all stages of the fuel supply chain, targeting those involved in producing and selling laundered fuel. Since 2010, these interventions have resulted in the closure of 24 fuel laundering plants, the closure of over 70 fuel retail outlets and the seizure of over 2 million litres of fuel, together with associated equipment and transport.

Mortgage Interest Relief Expenditure

Ceisteanna (98, 99, 101)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

98. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons who are in receipt of mortgage tax relief at present for loans taken out in or after 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49180/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

99. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the total cost of mortgage tax relief in 2012 for loans taken out in or after 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49181/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

101. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the cost in tax forgone of increasing mortgage interest relief for all loans taken out in or after 2004 by 1%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49183/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 98, 99 and 101 together.

It is estimated that the total number of mortgage interest relief claimants in 2011, the latest year for which information is readily available, is about 488,000, of which some 266,000 are estimated to be first-time buyers. The total cost of mortgage interest relief in 2011 is estimated at €357 million. Given the current structure of mortgage interest relief, in that relief is available at varying rates and subject to certain ceilings, in respect of interest paid by first-time buyers and non-first-time buyers, on a loan used by that individual for the purchase, repair, development or improvement of his/her sole or main residence, it is not possible to calculate the cost of tax forgone of increasing mortgage interest relief for all loans taken out in or after 2004 by 1 percentage point in the time allowed.

However, the tax forgone cost of increasing mortgage interest relief by 1 percentage point has been calculated in relation to first-time buyers who took out qualifying loans in the period 2004 to 2008 for whom the rate of tax relief was increased in Budget 2012. The Revenue Commissioners tentatively estimate that the number of first-time buyers who qualified for this relief to be in the order of 214,000. The cost to the exchequer of that measure is estimated at €52 million in a full year. The estimated cost to the exchequer of increasing the rate of mortgage interest relief by 1 percentage point for those first-time buyers is of the order of €11 million in a full year. These figures are provisional and subject to revision.

Mortgage Interest Relief Application

Question No. 101 answered with Question No. 98.

Ceisteanna (100)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

100. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the years that mortgage tax relief will cease for persons who took out loans in each of the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49182/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

In Finance Act 2010, mortgage interest relief was extended up to end of 2017 for those whose entitlement to relief was due to end in 2010 or after (i.e. those whose purchased in 2004 or after). Therefore, tax relief will continue to be available for all tax years up to and including the 2017 tax year in respect of interest paid on qualifying home loans taken out on or after 1 January 2004 and on or before 31 December 2012.

Question No. 101 answered with Question No. 98.

Mortgage Interest Relief Eligibility

Ceisteanna (102)

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

102. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Finance his plans for a person (details supplied) in County Wexford who can avail of mortgage interest relief only on part of the overall mortgage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49211/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

This is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners who are responsible for the administration of mortgage interest relief through the tax relief at source [TRS] system. Revenue have requested that full details in relation to the person involved, including his pps number, and also details relating to the mortgage loan be provided so that a comprehensive reply to this question can be given.

However, in general, I should point out that tax relief on interest paid on all qualifying home loans is being phased out. Tax relief on interest paid on qualifying home loans taken out in the period 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2012 will continue up to and including the 2017 tax year. However, tax relief is not available on interest paid on loans taken out on or after 1 January 2013. Likewise, where a residence is under construction, only the interest paid on monies drawn down on or before 31 December 2012 will qualify for tax relief. A qualifying loan for mortgage interest relief is one which without having been used for any other purpose, is used in the purchase, repair, development or improvement of a claimant’s principal private residence.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (103)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

103. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance the gross and net additional expenditure savings that his Department is seeking to achieve in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49242/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Funding requirements for my Department for 2013 have not yet been finalised. We continue to review all cost categories with a view to achieving savings where possible. The Department of Finance has always been a strong adherent to the need for efficiency and has a track record of implementing change and reducing headcount. Some of the initiatives undertaken in this regard are highlighted below:

- The Department acts as a sizeable shared service centre for the Civil Service as outlined in the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure of 2011. The work of the Department in this area will already have allowed considerable cost and headcount efficiencies in client Departments or bodies. The Department remains supportive of further developments in this area and would expect further efficiencies in client locations as the shared service concept is implemented more widely.

- Headcount in the Paymaster General Banking section has fallen from 18 in 2004 to 4 today, arising from automation and payable order reduction.

- The headcount in the combined pensions and salaries sections of 38 today compared to 34 in 2004 represents only a 12% increase, whereas the number of salaries and pensions being paid has risen by almost 85% from 16,400 in 2004 to 30,200 today. Over 50% of this growth is due to the Department, payroll, as well as payment of pensions to VEC retirees, allowing headcount reductions in these client entities.

- The Department has also actively sought to augment its resources on a pro-bono basis through secondments from the private and public sectors. Currently, the Department benefits from the services of eight individuals in this way without cost to the Exchequer.

- The Department is phasing out the issuance of paper payslips to pensioners. This is expected to yield savings in the order of €200k p.a. The Department is also phasing out the use of payable orders which is expected to yield savings.

- The Department is targeting savings on the overtime bill in comparison with 2012 of some €100k p.a.

- The Department has reorganised accommodation requirements, resulting in the termination of one lease which will generate savings of the order of €0.45m per annum for the Exchequer. We are also reviewing procurement arrangements with a view to introducing efficiencies and securing reduced rates from suppliers on an ongoing basis.

However, we must also ensure that the Department of Finance is adequately resourced to address issues as they arise in the banking sector and to deliver on the considerable goals set out in my Department’s Statement of Strategy 2011-2014. In particular, bank and debt restructuring work is driven by developments in Europe and the primary objective of that work is to ensure that the State optimises its position. We are entering a critical phase of potential restructuring based on the European political commitments expressed during the summer, with potentially very significant benefits to the national finances and therefore the related costs need to be considered. Furthermore, the economic planning initiatives of my Department, the fundamental objective of which is to improve the growth potential of the economy so as to reduce the level of unemployment, also carry an element of additional cost. All of the above are currently under active consideration in the context of the appropriate allocation of the scarce resources of the State in the forthcoming budget.

Tax Reliefs Abolition

Ceisteanna (104)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

104. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance the reduction in tax expenditure that would be achieved from abolishing tax relief for medical and dental insurance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49268/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

It should be noted that relief for qualifying dental insurance policies is allowed as part of the general relief for medical insurance since 2004 and is not identified separately for statistical purposes. On that basis, I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the cost to the Exchequer of tax relief allowed through the tax relief at source (TRS) system for medical insurance premia in 2011 is provisionally estimated at €404 million. The cost figure above does not include a further cost to the Exchequer of €333 million of the age-related tax relief at source, which is established by the Health Insurance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. The cost of the age-related tax credit is offset by a Stamp Duty on health insurance policies. The tax credit and levy are part of an interim scheme of risk equalisation which was introduced in order to provide direct support to community rating in the private health insurance market and is intended to be Revenue neutral over its duration. It expires on 31 December 2012 and will be replaced from 1 January 2013 by a permanent risk equalisation scheme, provided for in the recently published Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2012.