Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Ceisteanna (60)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

60. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that an increase in carbon tax on solid fuel in the forthcoming budget will lead to an increase in illicit trade in solid fuels to the detriment of legal business owners south of the Border; if his attention has been drawn further to the fact that such an increase would also lead to increased use of illegal polluting solid fuels purchased on the black market; if he will keep prices in line with pricing north of the Border; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40940/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As the Deputy will be aware, it is 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.

In relation to the issue of the illicit trade in solid fuels, as I, and my predecessor, have pointed out before, the collection of solid fuel carbon tax is heavily reliant on the regulatory regime covering the marketing, sale, distribution and burning of solid fuels in the State. This regulatory regime is operated by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and is enforced by local authorities. This regime, which imposes higher environmental standards on coal in the State than applies in Northern Ireland, enables local authorities to undertake enforcement action to prevent the sale or distribution of coal that does not meet our standards.

European Union Single Market constraints preclude the use of any cross-border movement controls in the administration of Solid Fuel Carbon Tax. Therefore, Revenue has no authority to stop vehicles and physically inspect loads of such fuel. Similarly, the transport or possession of solid fuels that originated in Northern Ireland are not, in themselves, Revenue offences and Revenue’s officers have no authority to challenge such transportation or possession. It is important to note that liability to Solid Fuel Carbon Tax does not arise on the physical presence of the goods in the State, but on first supply in the State by the supplier who is obliged to register with Revenue, make a return and pay the tax. This return must be made one month after the two-month accounting period provided for in law.

I am advised that Revenue is in contact with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to discuss the effectiveness of the regulatory regime for solid fuel and to explore how to improve matters in light of continuing concerns that fuel sourced from Northern Ireland is getting onto the market here, including the scope for cooperation to ensure improved compliance in the sector.