Tax Credits

Questions Nos. 172 and 173 answered with Question No. 167.

Ceisteanna (171)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

171. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance when a tax credit certificate will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5512/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the issue in this case has been fully resolved.

The person in question held two employments in 2018 with all tax credits allocated to one employment in accordance with their instructions. Revenue maintained this allocation for 2019 as no notification of any change to their employment status was received.

On 18 January 2019, an additional employment was registered for the person by a new employer. As Revenue had not been notified by the previous employer that the existing employment had terminated, and no instruction on a reallocation of tax credits was received, the situation remained as allocated at the start of the year. Consequently, a Revenue Payment Notification (RPN) showing ‘nil’ tax credits issued to the person’s new employer.

The person subsequently contacted Revenue and confirmed that they had changed employment and that they wanted their tax credits reallocated. The person’s records were updated and a revised tax certificate was issued to them. A revised RPN also issued to their new employer setting out their correct entitlements.

Questions Nos. 172 and 173 answered with Question No. 167.

Customs and Excise Controls

Question No. 175 answered with Question No. 157.

Ceisteanna (174)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

174. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the criteria used by customs officials in deciding which passengers are stopped and questioned in the context of persons arriving through public airports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5559/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am informed by Revenue that they adopt a risk based approach when stopping and questioning passengers at public airports. I am advised that a key focus in this context for Revenue is the carrying of prohibited or restricted goods.

Revenue have further advised that their interaction with the public in airports is governed by Revenue’s Customer Service Charter which provides that customers are treated courteously, with consideration and in a non-discriminatory way when dealing with Revenue. Revenue staff receive comprehensive training covering this Charter, the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour, and Revenue’s Code of Ethics.

Question No. 175 answered with Question No. 157.

Tracker Mortgages

Ceisteanna (176)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

176. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance his plans to regulate a situation (details supplied). [5561/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Central Bank of Ireland advises that the general lending practice of mortgage providers is that, when a mortgaged property is sold, the security on that property is released and the mortgage redeemed and if credit is sought for any subsequent purchase of a property, that credit will then be subject to a new mortgage contract with the interest rate and other mortgage terms of the new mortgage applicable at the time of the new contract. However, these are commercial matters for lenders and, subject to complying with the macro prudential lending rules and other regulatory requirements governing the provision of mortgage credit to consumers, there is no legal or regulatory measure which would prevent a mortgage lender from offering new and/or additional amounts of credit to an existing borrower in the context of purchasing a new home on terms which are identical or comparable to the terms of the existing tracker mortgage. Indeed some lenders have developed specific mortgage products to facilitate greater housing mobility by tracker mortgage holders; for example, I note from the internet that Bank of Ireland has such a mortgage offering:-

(https://personalbanking.bankofireland.com/borrow/mortgages/mover/starter-tracker-for-mover/).

I consider that these competing commercial considerations of borrowers and lenders can best be resolved in the context of a normal mortgage market situation and I have no current plans to propose particular legislation in this area.

EU Investigations

Ceisteanna (177)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

177. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Finance the status of the appeal on the judgment regarding a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5583/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Government profoundly disagrees with the Commission’s analysis in the Apple State aid case. An appeal is therefore being brought before the European Courts. Such an appeal takes the form of an application to the General Court of the European Union, asking it to annul the Decision of the Commission.The Attorney General prepared the legal grounds in support of the annulment proceedings and the application has been lodged in the General Court of the European Union. As is normal practice, a summary of these have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. They were also published on the Department of Finance’s website in December 2016.The case has been granted priority status and is progressing through the various stages of private written proceedings before the General Court of the European Union. The timing of any oral hearing is at the discretion of the Court. It will most likely be several years before the case is ultimately concluded.

VAT Rate Reductions

Ceisteanna (178)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

178. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he or the Revenue Commissioners have discretion to reduce the rate of VAT that applies to non-alcoholic beers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5602/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

VAT is governed by the EU VAT Directive with which Irish VAT law must comply. The Directive provides that all goods and services are liable to VAT at the standard rate, currently 23% in Ireland, unless there is a provision in the Directive that permits a lower rate to be applied.

While Ireland applies reduced and zero rates of VAT to a select range of goods and services under Article III of the VAT Directive, and by historical derogation, there is no means under EU VAT law to apply a lower VAT rate to the supply of non-alcoholic beer.

Any changes to VAT rates outside of what is currently permitted though the EU VAT Directive must be negotiated at EU technical working groups and ultimately agreed at ECOFIN. As with all tax files, any such changes require unanimous agreement from all Member States.

VAT Rate Reductions

Ceisteanna (179)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

179. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position on the VAT rate that applies to conferencing facilities; if there is national discretion in relation to the rate charged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5609/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The VAT rating of goods and services is subject to the requirements of EU VAT law, with which Irish VAT law must comply. In accordance with the EU VAT Directive, the supply of conference facilities is liable to the standard rate of VAT, currently 23%.

Where a supply of a conference room takes place in a hotel it would come within the meaning of a ‘letting of a room in a hotel or guest house’ as provided for in paragraph 11 of Schedule 3 to the VAT Consolidation Act, 2010. On that basis, the supply of the room is liable to the reduced VAT rate of 13.5%. This reduced rate applies to the room only and not to any other supplies associated with the service being provided. In this context, the provision of a room or rooms in a conference centre does not come within the scope of the application of the reduced rate of VAT as it is not a ‘letting of a room in a hotel or guest house’.

Furthermore, there is no scope for national discretion to apply the reduced rate solely to the supply of conference facilities, as the provision of conferencing facilities is not included in Annex III of the VAT Directive (which provides that Member States may apply reduced VAT rates to goods or services listed therein), nor did it apply at a reduced or zero rate since 1 January 1991.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (180)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

180. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Finance the reason the level of tax of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare has increased from December 2018 to January 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5614/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that it has reviewed the person’s tax situation and is satisfied that the position as at January 2019 is correct.

The tax credits applied to the person’s private pension were correctly reduced to take account of the increase they received to their Survivor’s Pension from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) in 2018.

In situations where a person has both a private pension and a Survivors Pension from DEASP, the tax due on the latter (DEASP payment) is achieved by reducing the annual tax credits on the former (private pension) by the value of the DEASP payment.

For example, an increase of €5 per week in a DEASP payment means that tax on an additional €260 is to be collected over the course of the year by reducing a person’s tax credits. €260 extra income at the standard rate of tax of 20% gives rise to a reduction in tax credits of €52 for the year or €4.34 per month.

Infrastructure and Capital Investment Programme

Ceisteanna (181)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

181. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of major capital projects since 2016; the tender value of each of the projects; the amount spent on projects if completed; the amount expected to be spent if not completed; the construction company employed to build the project in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4936/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

My Department has had no major capital projects (as defined by the Deputy's office) since 2016.

In order to obtain the information sought in respect of major capital projects in other Departments, a separate question would need to be submitted to each of the relevant Ministers.

Heritage Centres Data

Ceisteanna (182)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

182. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of visitors who availed of guided tours of Castletown House, Celbridge, County Kildare, and visited the estate generally in each of the years 2017 and 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5011/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

In 2017, counters on site recorded 679,496 visitors to Castletown Estate.

In 2018, 642,278 visitors are recorded.

The precise visitor numbers are, in point of fact, higher as digital counters are not in place at all entrances to the estate.

Total number of visitors who availed of guided tours was 8,062 in 2017, and 13,397 in 2018.

Heritage Centres

Ceisteanna (183)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

183. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the works planned at Castletown House, Celbridge, County Kildare, in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5012/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Commissioners of Public Works are seeking planning permission for further works to the Farmyard buildings in order to integrate this area of the estate into the visitor experience at Castletown. The delivery of such work is subject to the availability of funding.

The OPW continues to undertake some works and studies in relation to the Upper Woods to make this area of the estate safe and accessible to visitors.

Heritage Centres Data

Ceisteanna (184)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

184. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of visitors who availed of guided tours of Maynooth Castle, Maynooth, County Kildare, in each of the years 2014 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5013/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The number of visitors to Maynooth Castle for the years in question were as follows:

Year

Total Visitor Numbers to Maynooth Castle

Numbers that availed of a guided tour

2014

25,268

15,384

2015

21,843

10,819

2016

21,892

10,091

2017

23,315

11,621

2018 (Provisional & subject to change)

22,946

14,450

The visitor season at Maynooth Castle runs from mid-May to end September. In recent years the Castle has been open for five days a week for this period. During the 2018 visitor season Maynooth Castle was open to the public for seven days a week. While overall 2018 visitor numbers are slightly lower than in 2017 the numbers availing of a guided tour increased significantly from 11,621 in 2017 to 14,450 in 2018, an increase of almost 25%.

Heritage Centres

Ceisteanna (185)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

185. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the works planned at Maynooth Castle, Maynooth, County Kildare, in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5014/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

There are no works, apart from general maintenance, planned for Maynooth Castle in 2019.

Pension Provisions

Ceisteanna (186)

James Browne

Ceist:

186. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if consideration will be given to matching Garda pension rates to social welfare payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5111/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I understand the question relates to whether I would consider giving approval to passing on to Garda pensions the same rate of pension increases as are granted to the State Pension.

The Deputy will appreciate that my responsibility extends to the civil and public service occupational pension schemes. The Social Welfare State pension is separate to occupational pension benefits, and falls under the remit of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

However, I would advise the Deputy that the Government have approved a pension increase policy for the period to end-2020 as part of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 (PSSA), to apply to pre-existing public service pension schemes, including the Garda Síochána Superannuation Scheme. The principle of pay parity underlies this pension increase policy. This means that the pay increases agreed as part of the PSSA and legislated for in the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017, are passed on to pension recipients to bring the salary on which their pension is based up to the current salary rate of those still serving, after the pay increases have been applied to serving staff. Pension recipients qualify to receive an increase if the salary on which their pension is based is lower than the current salary rate of those still serving in the same grade and on the same scale point.

If the Deputy has any questions regarding the detailed application of the pension increase policy to Garda pensions, he should address the query to my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality.

Pension Provisions

Ceisteanna (187)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

187. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a person in receipt of a pension under the Local Government (Superannuation) (Consolidation) Scheme 1998 is in a position to benefit from the public service stability agreement; if pensions in payment under this scheme are subject to increases in line with relative salaries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5425/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Government have approved public service pension increases under the pension increase policy adopted for the period to end-2020 as part of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 (PSSA) . The principle of pay parity underlies this pension increase policy. This means that the pay increases agreed as part of the PSSA, and legislated for in the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017, are passed on to pension recipients to bring the salary on which their pension is based up to the current salary rate of those still serving, after the pay increases have been applied to serving staff. Pension recipients qualify to receive an increase if the salary on which their pension is based is lower than the current salary rate of those still serving in the same grade and on the same scale point.

As the Local Government (Superannuation) (Consolidation) Scheme 1998 (LGSS) is a pre-existing public service pension scheme, pensions payable under the scheme are eligible to attract pension increases in accordance with this policy.

The administration of the LGSS falls under the remit of The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, and so I would advise the Deputy to direct any questions regarding the practical implementation of the pension increase policy for the LGSS to that Department.

Pension Provisions

Ceisteanna (188)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

188. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position on pension abatement deducted from pension lump sums payable to certain retired public servants; the position on tax relief on the abatement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5426/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I assume that the Deputy is referring to any outstanding contributions that may be owing with respect to an individual’s membership of a public service Spouses' and Children’s Contributory Pension Scheme, which I understand are deducted from the pension lump sum at point of retirement.

My information is that individuals should qualify for tax relief in respect of such 'abatement' in accordance with the normal provisions applying to pension contributions under the tax code. However, it is a matter for the individual to liaise with the relevant Tax Office in order to recoup any tax refunds due to them, and I understand that the pension administrator will normally provide the relevant documentation to enable this to be done.