I propose to take Questions Nos. 180 and 181 together.
In relation to question 12819, it is unclear what particular needs the Deputy is referring to. I am advised by Revenue that there are a number of measures in the tax code that are aimed at persons with disabilities or particular needs. A high-level overview of some of the substantive provisions across the various tax heads is set out below. However, if the Deputy has a particular case or a particular need in mind Revenue is willing to engage on that particular case or issue.
Reduced rates of VAT and refund orders are provided for in the VAT Consolidation Act 2010. For example, the supply of a range of medical equipment and appliances, which include invalid carriages (excluding mechanically propelled road vehicles), orthopedic appliances, deaf aids, walking frames and crutches are subject to a zero rate of VAT.
The Value-Added Tax (Refund of Tax) (No. 15) Order, 1981, provides, in certain circumstances for the refund of VAT on goods which are aids or appliances and includes goods specially constructed or adapted for use that are purchased for the exclusive use of a person with a disability of a type specified for the purposes of the Order. The provisions of the Order also extend to works carried out on homes to adapt them to make them more accessible for disabled persons.
The disabled drivers and passengers scheme provides relief, subject to qualifying criteria, from Vehicle Registration Tax, VAT and road tax, for persons with disabilities.
Within the Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003 (CATCA), the following measures are provided:
- Sections 17 and 22 provide for an exemption from discretionary trust tax in the case of discretionary trusts established for the benefit of incapacitated persons who, because of age or improvidence, or of physical, mental or legal incapacity are incapable of managing their own affairs;
- Section 82 provides that receipts by a permanently incapacitated individual of funds which are held on a qualifying trust or of incomes deriving from funds held on such trusts is not subject to capital acquisitions tax;
- Section 84 provides for an exemption from capital acquisitions tax on gifts or inheritances taken exclusively for discharging the qualifying expenses of an individual who is permanently incapacitated because of physical or mental infirmity; and
- Section 86 provides for an exemption from capital acquisitions tax on the transfer of a dwelling house to dependent relative provided they have lived in the dwelling house for the three years preceding the gift or inheritance and they do not have an interest in another dwelling house.
The following measures relating to local property tax and residential properties are contained in the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended):
- Section 5 provides an exemption for properties that have been vacated by the owner because of long-term physical or mental infirmity;
- Section 7 provides an exemption for properties owned by charities or public bodies that are used to provide accommodation to people who, because of old age, physical or mental disability, require a particular type of accommodation and support to enable them to live in the community;
- Section 10B provides an exemption for properties acquired or adapted to make them suitable for occupation by certain permanently and totally incapacitated people; and
- Section 15A provides for a reduction in the taxable value of properties that are adapted to make them more suitable for the accommodation of certain persons with a disability where the taxable value is increased as a result of the adaptation work carried out on the property.
Within the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (TCA), the following measures are provided:
- Section 126 provides an exemption from income tax for the following social welfare payments:
- Carers Support grant
- Constant attendance allowance
- Disability allowance
- Domiciliary Care allowance
- Section 189 provides an exemption from tax in personal injury cases and applies to payments made “to or in respect of an individual who is permanently and totally incapacitated by reason of mental or physical infirmity from maintaining himself or herself”;
- Section 189A provides for income tax and capital gains tax exemptions in the case of special trusts established for the benefit of incapacitated individuals;
- Section 189B provides an exemption from income tax for periodic payments made for personal injuries;
- Section 190 provides an exemption from tax for compensation payments made to individuals by the Haemophilia H.I.V. Trust;
- Section 191 provides an exemption from income tax and capital gains tax for compensation payments made to individuals infected with Hepatitis C or HIV from the use of contaminated blood products;
- Section 192 provides an exemption from tax for payments made to individuals who have been affected by Thalidomide;
- Section 462B provides for the Single Parent Child Carer Credit which can be claimed by a single parent (whether widowed, separated, deserted or single parent) with an incapacitated child over 18 where the incapacitated child credit criteria have been met;
- Section 465 provides for the Incapacitated Child Tax Credit which can be claimed by a parent for a child who is permanently incapacitated either physically or mentally from maintaining himself/herself and had become so before reaching 21 years of age or finishing full-time education;
- Section 466 provides for the Dependent Relative Tax Credit;
- Section 466A provides for the Home Carer Credit which can be claimed by a person who cares for a dependent child, elderly relative or incapacitated person;
- Section 467 provides tax relief in respect of the employment of a person to take care of an incapacitated individual;
- Section 468 provides for the Blind Person's Tax Credit which can be claimed by a person who is regarded as blind;
- Section 469 provides for income tax relief on health expenses, which includes doctor visits, medicines, nursing care in the patient’s home (in certain circumstances), nursing home fees, children with life threatening illnesses, kidney patients, mileage for individuals who need to travel for treatment and certain appliances;
- Section 604 provides relief from CGT in relation to a gain accruing to an individual in respect of a dwelling-house which has been occupied rent-free by a dependent relative of the individual;
- Section 792 provides tax relief in respect of a Deed of Covenant in favour of a permanently incapacitated individual. However, parents cannot covenant to a permanently incapacitated minor child (i.e. under 18 years of age);
- Guide Dogs Allowance - can be claimed as part of health expenses where an individual or his/her spouse has a guide dog and is a registered owner with 'Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind';
- Assistance/Service Dogs Allowance - can be claimed as part of health expenses where an individual or his/her spouse or child has an assistance or service dog that has been supplied by an organisation accredited by Assistance Dogs Europe.
In relation to question 12821, under the Commissioners Order 1923 (S.I. No.2 of 1923), Revenue has statutory responsibility for the performance of its functions and is independent in dealing with the tax affairs of any individual under tax and customs legislation. Section 101 of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act, 2011 gives legal effect to Revenue’s independence in the performance of its functions. As set out in my reply to Parliamentary Question Number 173, Revenue’s treatment of any individual is subject to scrutiny by the Office of the Ombudsman. Revenue’s Chairman is the Accounting Officer and Head of Office under the Public Service Management Act, 1997, (PSMA) and in accordance with PSMA, Revenue reports annually on its Statement of Strategy to me as Minister for Finance. Revenue submits end of year accounts to the Comptroller and Auditor General within three months of the end of every financial year. As Accounting Officer, and in accordance with section 10 PSMA, the Chairman appears before the Committee of Public Accounts to deal with issues arising from Reports by the Comptroller and Auditor General and other matters relating to Revenue activities that the Committee may wish to discuss.
Revenue’s Chairman and Revenue officials regularly appear as witnesses before other Oireachtas Committees such as the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure & Reform and Taoiseach, and the Committee on Budgetary Oversight, on matters relating to Revenue activities. Furthermore, the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act, 2013, in respect of the exercise by either or both Houses of the Oireachtas (or by a Committee of either House or both Houses) of a power to conduct an inquiry into specified matters, including the provisions for matters relating to compellability, apply to Revenue.
In relation to the overall administration of the taxation and customs systems, Revenue is accountable to me as Minister for Finance. As regards parliamentary oversight, I present Revenue-related legislation to the Oireachtas; lay Revenue’s Annual Report and accounts before the Houses of the Oireachtas; present estimates for Revenue expenditure in the Dáil and present Revenue’s views, positions and observations on proposals to Cabinet. Tax policy is the responsibility of my Department and my officials work closely with Revenue officials on related issues. I have already said in reply to the earlier Parliamentary Question referred to above that I do not see a need for further identification of vulnerable persons in the tax code. However, as I also said in my reply to the earlier question, I am advised by Revenue that if the Deputy has identified a specific group of vulnerable taxpayers whose needs are not met by existing services, Revenue’s customer services team would be happy to engage with him to identify scope for further improvement.