Property Tax

Ceisteanna (84)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

84. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance when changes to the local property tax arrangements will be announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3457/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The report of the review of the Local Property Tax is currently being finalised by my Department in conjunction with the Departments of the Taoiseach, Public Expenditure and Reform, Housing Planning and Local Government, and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners. I expect that the review report will provide a number of policy choices for consideration. I will of course carefully consider the conclusions and recommendations of the report when it is presented to me.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (85)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

85. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his views on a proposal (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3458/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Decisions on taxation matters are made in the context of the annual Budget process, and the Deputy will understand that I cannot give any indications of my plans for Budget 2020 at this time.

However,  I should add that policy in relation to the matters the Deputy raises are, in the first instance, matters for the Minister for Rural and Community  Development. "Realising our Rural Potential: Action Plan for Rural Development" contains a detailed list of actions and priorities with a view to revitalising rural Ireland generally. This effort is being led by the Minister for Rural and Community Development in conjunction with Ministers and officials from other Departments, as well as the Local Authorities and a range of other stakeholders. A variety of actions included in this plan aim to assist in improving rural towns and making rural Ireland a better place to live. 

Furthermore, the Department of Finance Tax Expenditure Guidelines, published in October 2014, set out guidelines for best practice in ex-ante and ex-post evaluation of tax expenditures and is used by my Department when considering whether or not to introduce a new tax expenditure, or in reviewing an existing measure. These guidelines provide that tax expenditures should only be used in limited circumstances of demonstrable market failure, and where a tax based incentive is likely to be more efficient than a direct expenditure intervention.

Finally, EU State Aid rules make it difficult to introduce tax reliefs that target specific geographic areas while excluding others. In this regard, the Deputy may be aware of the difficulties that my Department encountered in obtaining state aid approval from the European Commission for the Living City initiative. 

Customs and Excise Controls

Ceisteanna (86, 89)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

86. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if custom officials carry out adequate surveillance and checks with regard a particular transport service (details supplied) in view of concerns raised. [3464/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

89. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Finance the number of customs officials that are assigned to Rosslare Port; the start and end times of custom official shifts; and if customs officials are present for all ferry departures and arrivals. [3538/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 86 and 89 together.

I am advised by Revenue that interventions that it makes as regards entry into or importation into the State are risk based. The overall customs regime in place is designed to facilitate the legitimate movement of trade and to secure payment and collection of duty and VAT, as appropriate and protect citizens, trade and the environment.

I am advised by Revenue that they provide trade facilitation services and support and undertake compliance interventions in any location where there are ferry arrivals and departures by reference to the overarching objectives set out above. The nature of the traffic movements concerned as regards an intra community service between EU Member States informs the assessment of risk.

I am assured by Revenue that all ferry services into and out of the location concerned are risk profiled and risk assessed. Where compliance risks are identified, Revenue resources including staff, detector dogs and Revenue’s mobile scanner, are available on a 24/7 basis for deployment.

I am advised by Revenue that there are currently 20 Revenue officials assigned to Rosslare Port with specific responsibility for Revenue’s trade facilitation and compliance functions in the port.

These officers are available on a 24/7 basis.

From the 4 March 2019, 20 additional officers will be assigned to Rosslare. These officers will be assigned on a 24/7 shift pattern.

Tracker Mortgage Examination

Ceisteanna (87)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

87. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance when the Central Bank will make a final decision on whether its staff will be included in the tracker review as impacted customers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3495/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As the Deputy is aware, the Central Bank’s Tracker Examination is focused on ensuring that lenders provide fair outcomes for all groups of customers impacted by tracker related failings both from a contractual and transparency perspective.  The Examination requires all lenders, which offered tracker interest rate mortgages to their customers (including customers who may be Central Bank staff), to review all mortgage accounts, including accounts in arrears, to identify any tracker related failings both from a contractual and transparency perspective. The Central Bank does not make the decision on what is impacted or not- this is the responsibility of the lender. The Central Bank reviews and challenges the lender where appropriate on its conclusion. 

The Central Bank does not have a statutory role in investigating individual consumer complaints;  however, it uses information that it receives directly from consumers to guide the scope of its broader supervisory work. 

The Central Bank advises that it is not in a position to comment on individual firm’s supervisory engagement.  The Bank also advises that a further update on the Tracker Mortgage Examination will be published in early 2019.

Motor Insurance

Question No. 89 answered with Question No. 86.

Ceisteanna (88)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

88. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the situation for many young drivers who hold learner permits and are unable to obtain car insurance (details supplied); the measures he has taken or plans to take to rectify same; if he has considered a special scheme for young drivers in which they are charged a set insurance rate which increases if they commit a driving offence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3509/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation.  Neither I nor the Central Bank of Ireland can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products, as these matters are of a commercial nature, and are determined by insurance companies based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept.  This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance which expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules which require insurance companies to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products.  Consequently, I am not in a position to direct insurance companies as to the pricing level or terms or conditions that they should apply in respect of particular categories of drivers or vehicles such as young drivers with learner permits.. 

I am aware of the issue of younger drivers continuing to experience increases in their insurance premiums in spite of the fact that prices are generally in decline.  Unfortunately, younger drivers have historically tended to face higher premiums as they are seen by insurers as a category which poses a higher risk.  In making their individual decisions on whether to offer cover and what terms to apply, insurers will also use a combination of other rating factors, which include the age and type of the vehicle, the relevant claims record and driving experience, the number of drivers, how the car is used, etc.  My understanding is that insurance companies do not all use the same combination of rating factors, and as a result prices and availability of cover varies across the market.  In addition, insurance companies will price in accordance with their own past claims experience, meaning that in relation to the age of the driver, and relevant experience they may have, different insurance companies will price the risk differently.  As one of the factors includes driving experience, it is acknowledged that this may impact the ability of learner drivers to obtain insurance in their own name from particular insurers, however this should not prevent them from take driving lessons with a qualified driving instructor which should assist a young driver in getting a full licence as soon as possible.

More generally, the Deputy should note that the Cost of Insurance Working Group will continue to focus on putting into place the measures proposed in its Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance.  It is envisaged that the implementation of all the recommendations cumulatively, with the appropriate levels of commitment and cooperation from all relevant stakeholders, should achieve the objective of delivering fairer premiums for all consumers, including young drivers. 

Finally, I would recommend younger drivers who are quoted increased premiums to consult the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission website, which has an informative section regarding the purchase of car insurance generally.  One of the key tips listed to help cut costs is to “shop around” and “always get quotes from several insurance providers when you need to get or renew insurance”.  In addition, I understand the Citizens Information Bureau make recommendations on things young drivers can do to reduce the cost of motor insurance, such as join a parent's insurance as a named driver as early as possible, to establish a safety record, or choosing a car with a relatively small engine, as less powerful cars are cheaper to insure.

Question No. 89 answered with Question No. 86.

National Debt

Ceisteanna (90)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

90. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the number of bilateral loans Ireland has with the UK; the amount outstanding per loan; the original principal sum per loan; the interest rate per loan; the way in which these loans with be settled in the context of Brexit; the preparedness of the State regarding Brexit in the context of outstanding bilateral financial commitments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3583/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The UK bilateral loan provided as part of the EU-IMF Programme was drawn down in eight equal tranches of £403 million over the period October 2011 to September 2013. The total UK bilateral loan outstanding is £3.23 billon.

This is a fixed rate loan. The weighted average interest rate, including service fees, on the aggregate UK loan facility is 2.6%. Interest is paid semi-annually, in June and December.

The first tranche is due to be repaid in April. The table following provides further information.

 Loan Tranche

Amount Maturing £m

Month/Year of Maturity

1

403

April   2019

2

403

July   2019

3

403

September   2019

4

403

February   2020

5

403

April   2020

6

403

September   2020

7

403

December   2020

8

403

March   2021

Total

3,227

 -

The Exchequer is well positioned to fund these loan maturities. It had over €15 billion in cash at the end of 2018 and the NTMA has already raised €4 billion earlier this month through the issue of a new ten year benchmark bond.

I do not expect Brexit to have any impact on the repayment of the UK bilateral loan.

The currency exposure has been hedged by the NTMA in its management of the National Debt.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (91)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

91. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Finance the number of meetings he has attended since the beginning of September 2018 with his officials to discuss and prepare for Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3597/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Deputy will be aware that Brexit has implications across almost all sectors of the economy. Since the UK referendum, Brexit is an integral part of business planning in the Department of Finance and issues relating to Brexit are mainstreamed across all divisions of my Department. In this context, I meet and engage on an ongoing basis with my officials on issues linked to Brexit.  The objective of my approach as Minister for Finance is to protect the economic and financial interests of the state and to support the work of the Revenue Commissioners so as to minimise disruption to trade to the greatest extent possible. These objectives are being advanced under four priority headings which are developing appropriate economic and budgetary policy advice; safeguarding financial stability through engagement with the CBI and the NTMA; assuring continued funding of the State by the NTMA and supporting the work of the Revenue Commissioners in the areas of customs, direct and indirect tax.  

I would point out that my Department has been to the fore in producing and funding a number of Brexit-related studies, both before and since the UK's referendum decision, covering overall macroeconomic and sectoral impacts. A dedicated Brexit Unit within the EU and International Division was established in July 2016 to oversee and coordinate Brexit work across the entire Department and to act as a key liaison point, in particular with the Departments of the Taoiseach and of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Assistant Secretary who heads the EU and International Division of my Department is designated as the lead official in the Department for Brexit matters.  We have appointed lead Brexit coordinators at Principal Officer level across all divisions of the Department. Developments on and preparations for Brexit are a standing item for discussion by my officials at key departmental structures, such as the Executive Board and EU Strategy Committee meetings.

VAT Rate Application

Ceisteanna (92)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

92. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the concerns expressed by the manufacturers and distributors of food supplements, vitamins and minerals regarding the increase in VAT on their products from 0% to 23%; the rationale for this increase; if he will respond to a request for a meeting from a group (details supplied) to discuss the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3638/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The standard rate of VAT applies to food supplements. However, a Revenue Commissioners concession allowed the zero rate to be applied to certain types of vitamins, minerals and fish oils.  Revenue has since decided to remove this concession with effect from 1 March 2019 so that all food supplements will be charged at the standard VAT rate. 

The operation of the concession became extremely problematic as a result of efforts by certain businesses in the industry to extend the concession beyond the scope permitted. Consistent challenges to Revenue guidance and decisions on the VAT rating of products gave rise to serious concerns about compliance within the industry and unfair competition between compliant and non-compliant businesses.

It should be noted, however, that human oral medicines, including certain folic acid and other vitamin and mineral products, licenced by the Health Products Regulatory Association will continue to apply at the zero rate of VAT.  Infant foods will also continue to be zero rated. 

However, independent of Revenue’s decisions on interpretation, I agreed during the recent Finance Bill to put in place a process that will conclude in the 2019 Tax Strategy Group Paper to examine some of the policy choices around the VAT treatment of food supplements. Should stakeholder groups wish to feed into this process, submissions will be considered in this context.

Property Tax Deferrals

Ceisteanna (93)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

93. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons availing of the deferral option under Part 12 of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended) by county and postcode in Dublin. [3644/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the information on Local Property Tax (LPT) collection, including information on exemptions and deferrals for the year 2018 is shown on page 8 of the latest LPT report published on the Revenue website at: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/local-property-tax/end-of-year-reports/local-property-tax-2018.aspx . 

The information is listed by Local Authority, including the four Dublin Local Authorities. A breakdown by postcode in Dublin is not available.