Tax Appeals Commission

Ceisteanna (90)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

90. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of full-time tax commissioners working for the Tax Appeals Commission; the number of part-time commissioners; the number of all other staff both part-time and full-time working for the commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5275/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Since its establishment in March 2016 the Tax Appeals Commission (TAC) has had two full time Commissioners. An additional temporary Commissioner was appointed in June 2017 for a 2-year period in order to assist in disposing of the legacy appeals which transferred to the Commission from the Revenue Commissioners. Further to this, the Commission currently compromises of the following administrative staff: PO, 1; AP, 3; HEO, 1.5; EO, 3; and CO, 3.

The TAC has a recruitment campaign underway in conjunction with the Public Appointments Service to engage experienced, tax-qualified staff to assist with all appeals. This process is currently underway with applications having been received in early January 2018. It is expected to progress to the next stage in due course.

Tax Appeals Commission

Ceisteanna (91)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

91. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the annual interest charged on appeals outstanding that are with the Tax Appeals Commission; if interest is paid by the Revenue Commissioners for holding money that has been determined by the Tax Appeals Commission as being wrongfully collected; if so, the annual interest rate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5276/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that while a matter is subject to an appeal to the Tax Appeals Commission, the collection of the amount of tax that is in dispute is suspended until the appeal is determined by the Tax Appeals Commission. Where the Tax Appeals Commission find in favour of Revenue, and the tax is found to be due and payable, the original due date in respect of that tax continues to apply for interest purposes. Appellants can make protective payments to Revenue in advance of the determination to minimise their potential exposure to interest charges.

Interest payable on outstanding income tax, corporation tax and capital gains tax in respect of a given period of late payment is set out in section 1080 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (TCA 1997). The current interest rate on overdue tax in respect of income tax, corporation tax, capital gains tax, gift and inheritance tax is currently 0.0219% per day which equates to an annual rate of 7.92%. The current interest rate on overdue tax in respect of taxes such as VAT and PAYE is currently 0.0274% per day, which equates to an annual rate of 10%, as set out in section 114 of the Value Added Tax Consolidation Act 2010 (VATCA 2010) and section 991 of the TCA 1997.

Where the Tax Appeals Commission finds in favour of the appellant there may be an overpayment of tax to be repaid. Section 865A of TCA 1997 states that where a repayment of direct taxes arises to a taxpayer for a chargeable period due to a mistaken assumption by Revenue in applying tax legislation, interest is payable on the amount overpaid for each day after the end of the period in question or, if later, the date on which the tax was paid, until the date on which the repayment is made. Interest is payable at the rate of 0.011% per day, which equates to an annual rate of 4.015%. Section 105 of the VATCA 2010 provides for the same rate in respect of VAT refunds as a result of a mistaken assumption by Revenue. Interest is not payable in these circumstances where the overpaid tax is offset against outstanding tax and/or returns are outstanding or where the amount of interest is less than €10.

Tax Collection

Ceisteanna (92)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

92. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Finance the status of a query by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5290/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the income tax owed by the person concerned for 2016 is based on a return they completed for the year in question. I am further advised by Revenue that arrangements are being made to make direct contact with the person concerned to clarify matters as regards the tax owed and to agree a suitable payment arrangement for any tax owed.

Public Sector Pensions Data

Ceisteanna (93)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

93. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the arrangements to ensure that retired civil servants on pensions receive pro-rata payment restoration with serving civil servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4985/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 186 on 23 January 2018.

Public Sector Staff Retirements

Ceisteanna (94)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

94. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the timeframe for the legislation to extend the mandatory retirement age in the public sector to 70 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4986/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 146 on 14 December 2017.

EU Funding

Ceisteanna (95)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

95. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has raised the issue of cross-Border funding at recent engagements with European Union representatives. [4279/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Ireland and Northern Ireland are currently partners in two EU-funded cross-border Cooperation Programmes, PEACE and INTERREG.  Between them they have seen nearly €3.5 billion of investment in Northern Ireland and the Border region of Ireland over the last quarter of a century.

The Government is proud of the role it played in securing EU funding for a fourth PEACE programme.  Along with its sister INTERREG Programme, it will see investment of more than half a billion Euro in Ireland and Northern Ireland over the period 2014-2020.

The programmes are important drivers of regional development in a cross-border context.  Through EU-funded cooperation, a range of Departments and agencies, North and South, have engaged in and benefitted from a variety of cross-border and cross-community projects.     

Support for the two programmes from the European Regional Development Fund is not only an important source of funding but also a key element of the European Union’s continuing commitment to the process of peace building and reconciliation in the region over the last quarter of a century. 

As part of the contingency planning undertaken by the Government prior to the UK referendum on EU membership, my Department identified the risks to these EU-funded programmes in the event that the UK voted to leave.

As a result, we responded to the result of the referendum immediately, with the first official level contacts with the European Commission taking place on the day of the referendum result itself.

The Irish Government has been clear that its ambition is the successful implementation of the current programmes and successor programmes post-2020.

In the immediate aftermath of the referendum I proposed that the then Finance Minister in Northern Ireland, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, and I would write jointly to the EU’s Regional Policy Commissioner, Corina Cretu, to highlight the importance we attach to the programmes.  I then raised the matter at meetings of the General Affairs Council devoted to Cohesion Policy.  In the margins of last April’s Council meeting in Luxembourg I had a bilateral meeting with the Commissioner about the programmes.  I subsequently wrote to her to invite her to visit the region and see for herself the important work that is taking place on the ground, and she has indicated her desire to do that.  In the meantime there have been ongoing contacts at official level.

I was delighted, therefore, that December’s agreed progress report between the EU and the UK includes a specific paragraph which reflects the Irish Government’s ambition to complete the current programmes and to examine favourably the possibilities for future programmes.  In its communication that accompanied the progress report, the Commission commits itself to proposing the continuation of the programmes.

Now that the Council, the Commission and the UK have all signalled their commitment to the programmes, my officials and I are proceeding on two fronts.

As regards the current programmes, my objective is ensure the successful implementation of PEACE and INTERREG, notwithstanding the UK exit in 2019. 

As regards future programmes, my objective is to ensure the continuation of the deep cross-border cooperation that is the hallmark of the current programmes with Northern Ireland.  My Department is developing proposals about ways of achieving this for discussion with the Commission.

Internal Audits

Ceisteanna (96)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

96. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his Department has completed an external quality assurance assessment of its internal audit function as required by the Institute of Internal Audit standards that were introduced in 2012 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5116/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Internal and EU Audit Unit of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) provides an internal audit service not only to that Department but also to the Department of Finance on a shared service basis.

As required by the Internal Audit Standards launched by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in 2012, the Internal Audit Unit function underwent an External Quality Assessment (EQA) which was carried out in November 2015 by the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors, the standard setting body for internal audit. The objective of the EQA was to provide an independent assessment of the effectiveness of the internal audit function as applied across the two Government Departments. This included considering the team’s conformance to the International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF), the globally recognised standard for quality in Internal Auditing.

The overall assessment conclusion was that the internal audit function met the highest grade rating used by the Institute of Internal Auditors i.e. "generally conforms" to the IIA’s professional standards. This means that the Internal Audit team may state in its audit reports that the work “has been performed in accordance with the IPPF”.

Apprenticeship Data

Ceisteanna (97)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

97. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of persons enrolled in apprenticeships in his Department and State agencies under his remit by gender in tabular form; and if he will list each such apprenticeship. [5262/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The current apprenticeships in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and bodies under its aegis are listed in the following table:

OPW Apprenticeships as of  31/01/2018

 

 

 

 

Female

Male

Total

Carpenter and Joiner

1

9

10

Construction Plant Fitter

 

5

5

Stonecutter and Stonemason

 

23

23

Wood Manufacturer and Finisher

 

2

2

TOTAL

 

 

40

Training Support Grant

Ceisteanna (98)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

98. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) has not received the full payment for their training course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5015/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I have been informed by Cavan Monaghan Education and Training Board that the National Learning Network in Monaghan has contacted the individual concerned and the matter has now been remedied.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (99)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

99. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way in which the distances for SUSI adjacent and non-adjacent grants are defined. [4857/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The current qualifying distance of 45km for the higher non-adjacent rate of student grant, takes into account a reasonable radius within which students may commute on a daily basis. The measurement of the distances relating to the award of adjacent or non-adjacent rates of student grant is a matter for the relevant grant awarding authority. The distance measurement for student grant rates is governed by Article 27(3)(a) and (b) of the Student Grant Scheme 2017. This provides that the relevant distance will be measured in line with agreed guidelines. The guidelines require that the shortest most direct route between the applicant's normal residence and the institution being attended should apply. In determining the shortest most direct route, the relevant awarding authority shall establish:- the method for measuring a route; and- the factors to be taken into account in establishing and measuring a route. SUSI has progressively introduced a number of measures that are intended to make the Student Grant Scheme more efficient for students. One of these measures is the introduction of Eircode which has helped to reduce processing times for applicants.

However, the actual calculation of distance from a student's home to college has not changed from previous years, and SUSI continues to use google maps to calculate distance.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant, or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to SUSI. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal may be submitted to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board within the required timeframe. Such appeals can be made by the appellant on line via www.studentgrantappeals.ie

DEIS Eligibility

Ceisteanna (100)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

100. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the assessment methodology for DEIS application has been revised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5088/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The approach taken to identify levels of disadvantage in schools was informed by the Review of the DEIS programme in 2016. As you are aware, the identification of levels of disadvantage in schools is based on data provided by schools themselves, combined with publicly available Small Area of Population Census data, as represented by the Pobal HP Index. The data is applied uniformly across all the schools in the country. A detailed account of the methodology adopted is available on my Department’s website.

An update of the identification model is currently underway. This will take account of the most recent pupil data as provided by schools for the current academic year. This information is combined with the Pobal HP Index of Deprivation, based on CSO Small Area Population Statistics derived from the 2016 National Census. It is envisaged that this process will be completed by the end of Quarter 1 of this year.

Just to be clear schools are not required to make an application for DEIS as all schools are assessed using the new uniform identification model.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (101)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

101. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a new school building project for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4982/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy may be aware, the project to which he refers was announced as part of my Department's Six Year Capital Programme in 2015.

Officials in my Department are working closely with officials from the relevant local authority under the Memorandum of Understanding in relation to the acquisition of a suitable permanent location for the school to which he refers.  A number of site options were identified and assessed and a short-list of technically suitable site options was selected with the assistance of local authority officials and assessed in further detail.

Engagement with the relevant landowners is ongoing with a view to reaching agreement in principle on the most suitable site acquisition as soon as possible.  The school patron will be appraised of developments in this respect and will be informed of the proposed permanent school location as soon as it is possible to do so.  

I can assure the Deputy that every effort is being made to secure the suitable site for the school as expeditiously as possible.