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Help-To-Buy Scheme Administration

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 23 February 2017

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Ceisteanna (150)

James Lawless

Ceist:

150. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Finance if his Department will review the help-to-buy scheme whereby the first-time buyer's 5% tax rebate from purchasing a property is paid back to developers; if consideration will be given in a review to allow this rebate to be paid directly to the first-time buyer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9433/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The legislation setting out the payment provisions for the Help to Buy incentive is contained in Section 477C(16) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. Claimants are required to complete a two-stage online process: an application and then a claim.

First-Time Buyers under the Help to Buy incentive fall into 3 categories as follows:

1. Claimants who have contracted to purchase, or drawn down the first tranche of their qualifying loan to self-build, their home in the period between 19 July 2016 and 31 December 2016, inclusive. This category is known as Retrospective Claimants.

2. Claimants who draw down the first tranche of their qualifying loan to self-build their home in the period between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2019.

3. Claimants who contract to purchase their home, in the period between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2019.

Regarding retrospective claimants, I am advised by Revenue that the claim process does not require the developer to pass information to Revenue. Instead, retrospective claimants are required to submit supporting documentation including a signed copy of the contract, evidence of their mortgage or mortgage drawdown, and details of the property directly to Revenue.

Regarding claimants who draw down the first tranche of their qualifying loan to self-build their home in the period between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2019, I am advised that the information supplied by the claimant will require verification by the claimant's solicitor before any refund is paid. The appropriate refund will be made to the claimant's qualifying loan bank account. Such claims do not require the developer to pass information to Revenue.

Regarding claimants who contract to purchase their home in the period between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2019, I am advised that the information supplied by the claimant will require verification by the Revenue-approved qualifying contractor before any refund is paid. The appropriate refund will be made directly to the qualifying contractor.

I am advised by Revenue that as of 10 February 2017 there have been 138 applications for registration as 'qualified contractors', with 55 of these being fully approved. Given the number of queries they have received from contractors, Revenue anticipates that the number of approved contractors will continue to increase over coming weeks.

Requiring contractors to register with Revenue under the Help to Buy incentive in advance of processing any claims is an important element to ensure compliance under the scheme and is necessary in order to safeguard public monies being paid under the incentive. As such, I do not intend to remove this requirement to register or to allow the rebate be paid directly to the first time buyer when they are purchasing a home from a contractor.

The Help to Buy scheme is a generous incentive that facilitates the purchase of a new home by a first time buyer. For new builds, the rebate is payable on signing the contract to purchase the property rather than upon completion of the sale. This means that it is necessary that details of the planning permission and ownership of the land are provided to Revenue. This information is completely within the control of the builder/developer. The other key condition is that of tax clearance/tax compliance. If a contractor is not tax compliant, in order to participate in the scheme, he or she should engage with Revenue to bring his or her tax affairs up to date.

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