VAT Rate Application

Ceisteanna (118)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

118. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the reason VAT is chargeable by counsellors and psychotherapists on their services; if there is flexibility to change the application of VAT; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37045/19]

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. Under domestic legislation, professional medical care services recognised as such by the Department of Health and Children are exempt from VAT. Professional medical care services recognised by the Department of Health and Children are generally those medical care services supplied by health professionals who are enrolled, registered, regulated, or designated on the appropriate statutory register provided for under the relevant legislation in force in the State or equivalent legislation applicable in other countries. This includes health professionals registered under the Medical Practitioners Act 2007, the Nurses Act 1985 and those engaged in a regulated profession designated under Section 4 of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005.

Statutory Instrument No. 170 of 2018 (Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (Regulations 2018) of 2 July 2018 designates psychotherapists and counsellors as a regulated profession and establishes the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Registration Board. Professional counselling and psychotherapy services provided by persons registered by this Board are exempt from VAT from the date of their registration.

As the Deputy will be aware my colleague, the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, appointed the thirteen members of the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Registration Board with effect from 25 February 2019.

The Board has begun the substantial body of work which must be undertaken before it is in a position to open its registers. It is envisaged that this process will take a minimum of two years to complete. 

Questions on the establishment of the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Registration Board and their progress in opening their register are a matter for the Minister for Health.

Banking Operations

Ceisteanna (119, 121)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

119. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding open banking rules; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37055/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

121. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if the deadline will be extended for the implementation of the new open banking rules (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37104/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 119 and 121 together.

The second Payment Services Directive (or “PSD2”) was transposed into Irish law last year through the European Union (Payment Services) Regulations 2018 (S.I. No. 6 of 2018).  PSD2 is supplemented by a European Commission Delegated Regulation (2018/389) with regard to regulatory technical standards for strong customer authentication.

These rules on strong customer authentication protect consumers and other users of payment services. They provide stronger protection against fraud, particularly online card fraud. Strong customer authentication is based on the use of two independent elements which must come from two of the three categories of possession, knowledge and inheritance. Chip and PIN, for example, relies on the chip on a payment card (something you have) and a PIN (something you know) to perform strong customer authentication. For this reason, sales in physical shops already comply with the requirements and it is in online ecommerce sales that a change will be seen.

The deadline set for compliance with the regulatory technical standards on strong customer authentication was 14 September 2019. The Central Bank of Ireland, however, stated in a notice on 8 August that it recognised the difficulties with meeting this deadline. In line with the opinion of the European Banking Authority published in June, it announced that a limited migration period would be put in place for firms it regulates. The migration period relates to ecommerce transactions only and is being put in place to ensure no disruption to payments systems from 14 September.

The Central Bank has been engaging with the industry to develop a migration plan to implement strong customer authentication for ecommerce transactions as soon as possible after this date. It has stated that it will continue to engage with the European Banking Authority and other National Competent Authorities in the European Union in relation to this issue, aiming to agree a harmonised approach to the migration time periods across the European Union. The Central Bank has committed to continue to communicate on this issue and an announcement on the new deadline may be expected shortly.

Motor Tax Yield

Question No. 121 answered with Question No. 119.

Ceisteanna (120)

John Lahart

Ceist:

120. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Finance the reason motor tax may have missed its target in terms of revenue to date in 2019. [37060/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As of end-August Motor Tax is currently €16 million or 2.3 per cent ahead of target. 

The performance of Motor Tax in the year is publically available in the Department of Finance's monthly publication 'Fiscal Monitor', and has been reproduced for the Deputy's convenience below.

 

Monthly Performance

Monthly Target

Excess/Shortfall

Excess/Shortfall

Cumulative Performance

Cumulative Target 

Excess/Shortfall

Excess/Shortfall

 

€m

€m

€m

%

€m

€m

€m

%

January

95

87

8

9.3

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

February 

85

82

2

2.6

179

177

2

1.2

March

86

85

1

1.5

266

262

3

1.3

April

90

84

6

7.5

356

346

10

2.8

May

84

81

3

3.7

440

428

13

3.0

June

76

76

-1

-0.8

516

504

12

2.4

July

91

87

5

5.5

607

591

17

2.8

August

75

76

-1

-1.6

682

667

16

2.3

Question No. 121 answered with Question No. 119.

Revenue Documents Issuance

Ceisteanna (122)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

122. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if a P21 for each of the years 2013 to 2018 will be made available in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37108/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that it has reviewed the person’s tax position and Balancing Statements (P21) have issued to them for the years 2015 to 2017. A Balancing Statement cannot be provided for 2018 as the person is not on record as a PAYE employee for that period.

Section 865(4) of the Taxes Consolidation Act (TCA) 1997 provides for a statutory time limit of four years for the claiming of tax refunds, and consequently Balancing Statements for years prior to 2014 are not available. However, a copy of the pay and tax details on record for 2014 has been provided to the person, together with a copy of the Balancing Statement for 2013 that previously issued in 2014.

Brexit Staff

Ceisteanna (123)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

123. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 153 of 9 July 2019, if there have been further hires and or additional personnel recruited by the Revenue Commissioners to deal with Brexit-related challenges; if so, the detail of same by staff grade and county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37119/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

In September 2018, the Government granted approval in principle for the phased recruitment of an additional 600 Revenue staff to meet the challenges posed by Brexit.  Following the Government decision in December 2018 to give greater priority to preparations for a no deal Brexit, it was agreed to accelerate Revenue’s recruitment plans. I am advised by Revenue that it has appointed an additional 106 staff to customs related roles in preparation for Brexit since 9 July 2019, details of these staff are included in the following two tables.

Table 1: Additional staff assigned in preparation for Brexit from 9/7/19 to 16/9/19 by grade.

Grade/Year

HEO/AO

EO

CO

Total

Total

3

7

96

106

Table 2: Additional staff assigned in preparation for Brexit from 9/7/19 to 16/9/19 by location. 

Location

Total

Dublin

84

Leinster (excluding Dublin and Louth)

3

Munster

7

BMW (in Donegal, Galway, Louth, Sligo)

12

Total

106

I am advised by Revenue that it will have in place the full additional 600 staff approved by Government by 31 October 2019.

Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Data

Ceisteanna (124)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

124. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the number of complaints received to date in 2019 by the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman; the number of cases settled by the ombudsman within timeframes (details supplied) from all complaints received to date; and the percentage of the number of cases settled from the total number received according to the timeframe in tabular form. [37193/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Firstly, I must point out that the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) is independent in the performance of his statutory functions.  I have no role in the day to day workings of the office or in the decisions which he takes.

The Office of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) was established on 01 January 2018 to resolve complaints from consumers, including small businesses and other organisations, against financial service or pension providers. The establishment of the FSPO resulted from the merger of the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman and the Financial Services Ombudsman’s Bureau. 

The Ombudsman has informed me that the FSPO inherited 3,178 complaints from its predecessor bodies.  5,692 complaints were received in 2018 and 4,178 new complaints were received up to and including 9 September 2019. 

In 2018, the office closed 4,443 complaints leaving a balance of 4,427 complaints on hand at the end of 2018. Up to 9 September this year the office has closed 3,242 complaints.  

To answer the Deputy's question as to the number of complaints received (4,178), the percentage and number closed up to 9 September 2019 the Ombudsman has provided the following information:-

 

Months

 Number of Complaints

 % of total (4,178) received that were closed

 Within 2 months

241

 6%

 Within 4 months

311

 5%

 Within 6 months

201 

 7%

 Over 6 months

 49

 1%

 Total

 802

 19%

In light of the backlog, earlier this year I sanctioned an additional 35 staff members. This will allow for delivery of a better faster service for consumers while tackling existing waiting times.  It will also aid the delivery of the objectives set out in the FSPO Strategic Plan 2018 – 2021.  Recruitment for these additional resources has already commenced, with an initial tranche of new staff joining the organisation in September 2019.   

On the issue more generally, the Ombudsman has also informed me that new complaints are dealt with in sequence based on the date they were received by the office.  While the high volume of complaints received has impacted the complaint registration process and has given rise to delays at various stages of the process, it is important to note that the duration required to register, mediate, or investigate a complaint can vary depending on the number and nature of submissions made by the parties to the complaint. This sometimes involves an extensive exchange of evidence and submissions. At all stages of the process, each complaint is considered on its own merits.

I understand that the FSPO wrote to all members of the Houses of the Oireachtas informing them of the Protocol for the Provision of Information to Members of the Oireachtas by State Bodies and providing a dedicated email address for the timely provision of information to members of the Oireachtas.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (125)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

125. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Finance his views on correspondence regarding a scheme from a person (details supplied). [37199/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that business models and contractual arrangements in the poultry sector created the conditions for the generation of a systematic excess of flat-rate addition payments to farmers in the sector over their VAT input costs. My predecessor introduced a provision in Finance Act 2016 to enable the exclusion of an agricultural sector from the flat-rate scheme where the Minister is satisfied that, because of the business structures, contractual arrangements or models in place, the application of the flat-rate addition within that sector has resulted in, and would otherwise continue to result in, a systematic excess of flat-rate addition payments over input costs incurred by flat-rate farmers in that sector.

My officials are currently in the process of considering a report received from Revenue on the operation of the flat-rate addition scheme in the poultry sector.

To date, Revenue has not established that similar business models and contractual arrangements exist or are common in any other agricultural sector and the correspondence referred to does not present any evidence of such arrangements.  A flat-rate farmer involved in a business in which cattle are bought from other flat-rate farmers and reared for a further limited period before being supplied to a VAT registered business such as a beef processor would normally receive a flat-rate addition payment  that exceeded his or her VAT input cost; however, the payment might not exceed the total VAT input costs associated with rearing the animal incurred by all the farmers involved in the process. It would be expected that the price paid to flat-rate farmers supplying to another flat-rate farmer would take account of the flat-rate ‘credit’ being transferred with the animal. I will however continue to monitor the beef sector and other agricultural sectors to ensure that the flat-rate addition scheme does not operate to give rise to overcompensation of farmers at the aggregate level for VAT on input costs.

If the Deputy has information of particular contractual arrangements in the beef sector that could give rise to a systematic excess of flat-rate addition payments to farmers involved in beef production he should pass that information on to the Revenue Commissioners.

Tax Exemptions

Ceisteanna (126)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

126. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Finance if organisations engaged in hunting will be removed from tax exemption under section 235 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 which relates to sports and games organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37205/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Section 235 Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides an exemption from income tax or corporation tax, as appropriate, for bodies which are established and existing for the sole purpose of promoting:

- an athletic game or an athletic sport, or

- an amateur game or an amateur sport.

The exemption applies to that portion of the income of the “approved body” which has been or will be applied to the purpose of promoting an athletic or amateur game or sport. 

As the legislation does not define what is meant by the term “sport”, it is given its ordinary meaning, which includes pastimes collectively undertaken for recreation purposes, provided such activities are legal and considered by convention and custom to be sporting activities. These include field sports such as hunting. Bodies engaged in the promotion of such activities are entitled to a tax exemption under the legislation provided they meet all the other relevant criteria.

My Department's Tax Expenditure Guidelines provide that tax expenditures such as this should be reviewed on a regular basis.  The measure mentioned by the Deputy will be reviewed in the normal course of events and all relevant considerations and views will be taken into account as part of that process.

Stamp Duty

Ceisteanna (127)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

127. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Finance the benefits to the taxpayer of introducing a new stamp duty tax on the transfer, leasing and sale of aviation aircraft made here from budget 2020 onwards in view of the size the global aircraft sale and leasing industry here and the opportunity to raise public funding from same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37361/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The aircraft leasing industry is just one element of the strong ecosystem in aviation in Ireland which includes aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul, avionics and a range of specialist aviation service providers.

As a peripheral economy, Ireland has a strong reliance on aviation in facilitating trade and tourism.

In light of the significant opportunities that the continued growth of aviation globally presents to Ireland's industry, the Government continues to pursue appropriate policies to strengthen our position in aviation.

The National Aviation Policy seeks to maximise Ireland’s connectivity to support continued economic activity and specifically seeks to further develop the wider aviation enterprise sector, including leasing, in support of job creation.

The leasing sector faces strong competition from other jurisdictions (e.g. China, Singapore etc.). Ireland's operating environment, including a stable legal and tax environment for aviation leasing has contributed to the growth of the sector in Ireland.

I am informed by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport that the leasing sector here contributes over €540 million to the economy in direct and indirect spending, and supports  some 4970 jobs (circa 1700 in direct employment).

The transfer, sale or lease of an aircraft, either where the transfer deed is executed in Ireland, or if executed outside Ireland relates to any property situated in Ireland or to any matter or thing done or to be done in Ireland, is currently exempt from stamp duty in accordance with section 113 of the Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999. This exemption applies, inter alia, to boats and aircraft.

Therefore, I have no plans to revoke that exemption in order to introduce a new stamp duty of the type suggested in the Deputy's question.  

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (128)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

128. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he will report on the recent announcement by the United Kingdom Government that duty free is being reintroduced; if he has met his officials to discuss the matter; his plans to deal with the announcement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37421/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The UK Chancellor announced, on the 10th September, that the UK Government intends to reintroduce duty-free shopping for passengers travelling to EU countries if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October next.

If the UK leaves without a deal, the UK will assume the status of a ‘third country’ in terms of their trading relationship with the European Union.  Earlier this year, the Oireachtas passed extensive legislation covering contingency arrangements in relation to the exit of the UK from the EU under these circumstances.

On 22 February, the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019 was published.  It completed all Oireachtas stages on 13 March and was signed into law by the President on 17 March 2019. The legislation introduced a specific measure relating to Duty Free sales between Ireland and the UK in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal. The provision contained in the Act was designed as a contingency measure in that it was anticipated that a solution to such matters would form part of a future relationship agreement between the EU and UK.

In the Act, I made provision to impose restrictions on duty-free sales in Ireland to UK bound travellers, which I planned to implement if the UK introduced similar restrictions in respect of Ireland bound travellers in the UK. As the UK has now decided to apply an unrestricted duty-free scheme in the event of a no-deal Brexit and in line with this reciprocal policy, Ireland will not now commence the relevant legislative measure and European Union rules, in relation to passenger travel between the EU and third countries, would therefore apply from 31 October.  In effect this would mean that Excise and VAT free sales on purchases of tobacco and alcohol made at duty-free shops, subject to quantitative purchase limits, would therefore operate between Ireland and the UK. 

Passengers from the United Kingdom will however, only be entitled to bring goods into Ireland without payment of tax and duties, within prescribed limits.  The total value of the goods may not exceed €430 (€215 in the case of a traveller under 15 years of age), and quantitative limits will apply to excisable products (alcohol and tobacco).  The quantitative limits are set out in the attached table (see table A) and the enforcement of these limits will be an operational matter for Revenue.

This policy is in compliance with EU law and Ireland’s international obligations.

Table A: Quantitative limits on excisable UK duty free entering EU

Excisable Products

Product

Personal Allowance for 3rd country travellers

Cigarettes

200

Cigarillos

100

Cigars

50

Tobacco products

Loose tobacco

250g

Spirits

1 litre

Intermediate products (e.g. port., sherry) and sparkling wine

2 litres

Wine

4 litres

Alcohol products

Beer

16 litres

Gambling Legislation

Ceisteanna (129)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

129. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the number of investigations and successful prosecutions that have occurred regarding instances of underage gambling regarding on-street bookmaker shops, online and trackside bookmakers in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37447/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I understand that the Deputy asked a similar Parliamentary Question to the Minister for Justice last week and was informed that the Courts Service and An Garda Síochána have advised that they do not have the records requested for the years in question. I have no further information to add to this.

Tax Yield

Ceisteanna (130)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

130. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the amount raised from the betting tax in the past three years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37448/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that Betting Duty receipts for the years to 2018 are published on the Revenue website at link:

www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/statistics/excise/betting-duty-receipts.pdf .

I am also advised that €68.1 million was paid in respect of Betting Duty in the period to end August 2019.

Tax Reliefs Data

Ceisteanna (131)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

131. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Finance the number of help-to-buy tax reliefs provided to home buyers since the scheme was introduced by house price ranges (details supplied) in tabular form. [37472/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Help To Buy (HTB) incentive, announced in Budget 2017 and backdated to 16 July 2016, is designed to assist first-time buyers with the deposit required to purchase or self-build a new house or apartment to live in as their home.

The incentive provides for a refund of Income Tax and DIRT paid over the previous four tax years, limited to a maximum of 5% of the purchase value up to a value of €400,000. The HTB refund is capped at €20,000. This incentive is available for the period from 19 July 2016 to 31 December 2019.

Revenue advise me that the HTB scheme has a number of phases. Initially an application is made; this will progress to the claim stage if the applicant decides to purchase a property that is eligible for the scheme. Claims are then approved and paid by Revenue, provided the qualifying contractor or solicitor has verified the claim. At any given time there will be a number of pending claims awaiting approval, the vast majority of which are approved.

To date, 14,722 HTB claims have been made, of which 13,955 are approved.

Revenue advise me that they are unable to provide data relating to the house prices in the €50k bands specified in the Deputy's question. However, they have provided me with information regarding the number of claims made in €75k bands since the introduction of the scheme (i.e. over the period 16 July 2016 to 31 August 2019) as follows:

Property Value Range € 

Claims

0-150k

 296

151-225k

 1,617

226-300k

 4,713

301-375k

 5,008

376-450k

 2,116

 Over 450k

 972

IBRC Legal Cases

Ceisteanna (132)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

132. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the number of cases concluded in the courts with respect to the IBRC pre-special liquidation; the costs settled to date; the nature of each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37607/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The information requested is not held by the Department of Finance. I am advised by the Special Liquidators that the records of the cases concluded in the courts before their appointment and pre-special liquidation are not readily available and it would be a very significant and burdensome exercise to complete not only in terms of costs but also regarding the time it would take to assess the status of every case instituted prior to the special liquidation. I have asked the Special Liquidators to provide an estimate of the cost of retrieving and analysing this information and my officials will contact your office in due course.

At the time of the appointment of the Special Liquidators in February 2013, there were over 1,100 cases that IBRC was party to. Since then, IBRC has reduced the number of legal proceedings to 83. IBRC continues to pursue and manage 19 recovery and enforcement actions. Many of these cases were instigated prior to the Special Liquidators appointment.

The remainder of the cases still extant, range from breach of contract, breach of statute, breach of duty, negligence and allegations of mis-selling swaps and investments.

IBRC Expenditure

Ceisteanna (133)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

133. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the costs incurred regarding the special liquidation of IBRC from 2013 to date; the amounts incurred that were as a result of the engagement of external legal and or financial consultancy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37608/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The total professional fees associated with the Special Liquidation from 7th February 2013 to 31st December 2018 are €258.054 million (gross). 

The fees and all other costs associated with the Special Liquidation are outlined in detail in the latest IBRC Progress update report to 31 December 2018   (“the Report”) issued by the Special Liquidators on 22 May 2019. This report and all prior reports are published on the Department of Finance website at www.gov.ie/en/publication/365bc5-t/

Details of the various legal, financial consultancy and other professional firms who were in receipt of fees is contained in the costs and fees section of the Report.

IBRC Expenditure

Ceisteanna (134)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

134. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the overall amount to date issued by way of settlement and or compensation in instances in which IBRC is and or was a defendant in cases regarding allegations of mis-selling of swaps and investments, mismanagement, negligence, breach of contract and breach of duty in view of the fact that the State is party to these cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37609/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by the Special Liquidators that any cases that IBRC has settled concerning the mis-selling of swaps and investments are subject to strict confidentiality agreements between the parties, which prohibit disclosure of any details pertaining to the settlement, and which also includes costs.

Brexit Preparations

Ceisteanna (135)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

135. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Finance the number of businesses with trade in excess of €1 million that have not as of yet obtained an EORI number; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37623/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the majority of businesses with UK imports or exports valued in excess of €1 million have an EORI number. As per Table 1 and Table 2 below, 205 businesses with imports and 60 businesses with exports in excess of €1 million do not have an EORI number.

As part of its ongoing multi-layered trader engagement programme, Revenue wrote to these businesses in the last few months outlining the practical preparatory steps to take based on their trade pattern in 2018. In addition, they have received or will soon receive a follow up phone call from Revenue. I understand that the programme of follow up calls by Revenue will be completed by Revenue 20 Sept 2019.

It should be noted that some businesses may have changed their trade patterns and plan to source products from within the EU in the post-Brexit environment. Other businesses are part of larger groups that have customs expertise within the group and may transfer the customs operations to the more experienced part of the business. The key issue for businesses is that if they plan to continue trading with the UK in a post-Brexit environment they must take the necessary steps to prepare their business.

There has been a significant increase in registrations for EORI numbers with almost 5,000 businesses registering in August 2019 alone and an additional 2,700 since the start of September. The total number of registrations to date in 2019 is almost 15,500.

89% of the total value of VIES Imports from the UK in 2018 and 96% of the total value of VIES Exports to the UK in 2018 was carried out by businesses who now have an EORI number. This indicates that businesses that are going to be significantly impacted by Brexit are responding to the call to be prepared.

I very much welcome Revenue’s intensified Brexit engagement with businesses and I strongly urge all businesses to take note of and act on Revenue’s advice, thereby ensuring they are Brexit ready by 31 October.

TABLE 1 - Statistics related to VIES Imports from the UK in 2018 (as at 13.9.19)

Threshold value

Number of cases

% with an EORI

% not registered for EORI

Number with an EORI

Number not registered for EORI

Imports above €1m

2,327

91.2%

8.8%

2,122

205

 

TABLE 2 - Statistics related to VIES Exports to the UK in 2018 (as at 13.9.19)

Threshold value

Number of cases

% with an EORI

% not registered for EORI

Number with an EORI

Number not registered for EORI

Exports above €1m

1,210

95%

5%

1,150

60

Vehicle Registration

Ceisteanna (136)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

136. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Finance his views on a change to VRT bands to take into account the differences between old and new CO2 testing regimes due to be implemented in 2020 and the subsequent price differential with newer imports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37649/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As the Deputy will be aware, it is a long-standing 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.

VAT Rate Application

Ceisteanna (137)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

137. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the reason given by the Revenue Commissioners such a treatment has no legal provision and that such a treatment in the past was a concession and therefore had no legal basis with regard to the zero rated VAT treatment of food supplements that; if it provided guidance that indicated that food supplements constituted food within the terms of the second schedule to the Value-Added Tax Act 1972 (as amended); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37714/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Irish VAT law does not zero rate food supplement products and under EU VAT law Ireland is precluded from introducing such a provision. The zero rate for food and drink is provided for under a derogation from EU VAT law which allows Member States to retain certain zero rates for goods and services which were expressly covered in their national VAT legislation on 1 January 1991. The legislative provision for food and drink was in place on 1 January 1991; however, there was no legislative provision for food supplement products and therefore they cannot be legally zero rated.

Shortly after the introduction of VAT, Revenue allowed the zero rate to be applied to certain food supplement products (vitamins, minerals and fish oils). This concessionary approach expanded as the market developed over the years and resulted in the zero rating by Revenue of further similar products, including products other than vitamins, minerals and fish oils and Revenue’s guidance simply reflected this. The evolution of the scope of the concessionary treatment of certain types of food supplement products was well understood by the industry and by agents representing clients in the food supplements sector and has never been disputed by Revenue. However, the various VAT rating decisions published in its VAT rates database and other information made available in whatever form on food supplement products cannot override VAT law.

Revenue has acknowledged that the scope of its zero rating concession had broadened progressively over time to the point that it had become increasingly difficult to maintain an effective distinction between food supplement products that could benefit from the zero rate and those that were standard rated. Revenue acknowledges that this concessionary approach was unsatisfactory and led to diverging and inconsistent practices. There were continuous efforts by elements in the industry to expand the zero rate to products that should be standard rated, including products claiming to enhance male fertility, promote hair growth, boost tanning, avoid a hangover and reduce stress.

Following complaints from the Irish Health Trade Association (IHTA), Revenue conducted a comprehensive review of the VAT treatment of food supplement products, including getting an expert report on the definition of food for the purposes of the VAT Consolidation Act. The expert prepared a detailed, scientific report that concluded that food supplement products are not conventional food. Based on the expert report and its own legal analysis, Revenue concluded that the status quo was no longer sustainable. Following this review, Revenue engaged with my Department concerning policy options that might be considered in the context of Finance Act 2018. The relevant legislation was not changed in Finance Act 2018 and therefore Revenue issued new guidance in December 2018 which removed the concessionary zero rating of various food supplement products with effect from 1 March 2019. Following representation from Deputies and from the industry, I wrote to Revenue outlining my plans to examine the policy and legislative options for the taxation of food supplement products in the context of Finance Bill 2019. Revenue responded by delaying the withdrawal of its concessionary zero rating of the food supplement products concerned until 1 November 2019. This will allow time for the consideration of any legislative changes in the context of Budget 2020.

My Department carried out a public consultation on the taxation of food supplement products. The consultation sought input from a wide range of interested parties, including from health and nutrition experts and the Minister for Health. The results of the consultation were included in the recently published 2019 VAT Tax Strategy Group (‘TSG’) paper as part of the Budget 2020 process. Several options have been set out on the VAT treatment of food supplement products in the TSG paper, available here: https://assets.gov.ie/19123/083625ae43d948c88917c749a2ff6b57.pdf.

Flood Relief Schemes Status

Ceisteanna (138)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

138. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of works carried out in both urban and rural areas along the Shannon to alleviate flooding. [36958/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

On 3rd May, 2018, I was delighted to launch 29 Flood Risk Management Plans and €1bn investment in flood risk over the coming decade.  These Plans are the output from the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme - the largest ever flood risk study carried out in the State.  The Plans set out the measures proposed to address the flood risk nationally, and include 19 new flood relief schemes to protect towns in the catchment of the Shannon River in particular, in addition to the scheme underway in Athlone due to be completed in 2021.

Flood Relief Works have already been completed in a number of areas in Limerick City , including Clancy’s Stand and Harry’s Mall (mid 2000’s) and Howley’s Quay (2012).

In King’s Island (Limerick City), funding was provided by the Office of Public Works to Limerick City and County Council for preliminary flood defences involving the construction of sheet piling behind an embankment, completed in 2014, and for advance works flood defence works on Verdant Place, completed in 2017.  Consultants were appointed in 2015 to develop the permanent flood relief scheme for King’s Island and it is estimated that the full scheme will protect approximately 450 residential and 23 commercial properties.  Limerick City and County Council is scheduled to lodge a planning application with An Bord Pleanála later this year, with an anticipated construction completion date approximately two years thereafter.

In Athlone (Co. Westmeath), the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Westmeath County Council (WCC) are working together to advance flood relief works for the town with WCC as the Contracting Authority and OPW funding the costs of the works in addition to undertaking the construction works with its own workforce.  Engineering consultants were appointed in April 2017, to identify appropriate flood risk alleviation measures for Athlone.  The Option Appraisal Report identified eight discrete cells of flood defence works. These flood cells are each being progressed individually under Part 8 or Part 10 of the Planning and Development Regulations.  It is anticipated that the construction works for the Athlone Flood Alleviation Scheme will be completed during 2021. 

Consultants have also been commissioned by the OPW and/or the relevant Local Authority to undertake the design, development and planning of Flood Relief Schemes in Springfield (Co. Clare) and Castleconnell (Co. Limerick).  Procurement is scheduled to commence in the coming months to appoint Engineering Consultants for the design, development and planning of Flood Relief Schemes in Limerick City & Environs, Leitrim Village and Carrick-on-Shannon (Co. Leitrim), and Killaloe/Ballina (Co. Clare/Tipperary).  It is intended to progress the development of flood relief schemes in Dromod (Co. Leitrim) and Portumna (Co. Galway) within the lifetime of the National Development Plan 2018 to 2027.

The Government also established the Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-ordination Working Group in 2016 to support existing plans in place to address flooding on the Shannon and to enhance the ongoing co-operation of all State Agencies involved with the River Shannon.  The Group has taken a number of significant decisions since its establishment, including targeted maintenance activities at a number of locations, trialling the lowering of the levels on Lough Allen, studies to explore managing flood risk at the Callows and a study on the cause, degree and rate of restriction downstream of Parteen Weir.  The Group is also considering a feasible long term maintenance programme for the River Shannon.

Flood Relief Schemes Applications

Ceisteanna (139)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

139. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the applications received from Mayo County Council in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019 under the flooding minor works scheme; and the status of each application in tabular form. [37027/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Please see below in tabular form all applications received from Mayo County Council under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019 and the status of each.

Local Authority

Applications Submitted- Project   Location

Project Details

Approved Funding

Funding Drawn-down

Project status

2017

Crossmolina, Chapel Street

To reconstruct part of the existing stone wall

€12,207

€12,207

Complete

 

Ballyhankeen, Claremorris

Deepen existing drains & excavate short length of new open drains & upgrade culverts

€56,765

€15,539

Ongoing

 

Bunnadober, Ballinrobe

Deepen & widen the existing open drain for 150m & extend it for 35m south westwards. Extend the roadside embankment along the western side of the channel &   associated works

€138,079

€17,425

Ongoing

 

Cong / Drumsheel

Installation of culverts, construct chambers & trash screens & channel improvement works (as outlined in report)

€324,819

€48,887

Ongoing

2018

Neale-Cross

A prefeasibility study, stage 1 feasibility study, preferred option identification & surveys

€151,635

€0

Ongoing

2019

Carrowholly (coastal)

Addition of embankments to the existing flood defences Associated works

€358,787

€0

Ongoing

 

Creggaunbaun, Louisburg

Provide embankment around dwelling house & sheds with non-return valves on drainage outlets

€28,333

€0

Ongoing

Garda Station Refurbishment

Ceisteanna (140)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

140. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the reason for the delay in developing Newcastlewest Garda station, County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37053/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The refurbishment and upgrade of Newcastle West Garda Station is included in the  Capital Investment Plan 2016-2021 for An Garda Síochána. The Office of Public Works  has completed  a feasibility study  on the redevelopment of the Station based on a brief of requirements received from An Garda Síochána.  The feasibility study  has identified that a new Station can be built on the existing site. The Office of Public Works has since appointed  a Design Team to progress this project and is engaging with An Garda Síochána on the detailed design phase of the proposed new Station building.

Flood Relief Schemes Status

Ceisteanna (141, 142, 143)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

141. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the Glashaboy flood relief scheme; when it will be commenced and completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37057/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

142. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on the fact that 49 families are unable to obtain home insurance due to the lack of progress on the Glashaboy flood scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37058/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

143. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the procurement phase has been completed on the Glashaboy flood relief scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37059/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 141 to 143, inclusive, together.

The Office of Public Works, through the Arterial Drainage Acts, has submitted the proposal for the Glashaboy Flood Relief Scheme to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform for formal Confirmation. The Minister will, over the coming months, undertake an environmental assessment of the proposed scheme. This assessment will be in line with required legislative requirements and will involve a public consultation. The procurement and appointment of a Contractor will be progressed for this scheme following formal Ministerial Confirmation.

The flood relief scheme will be funded from within the allocated €1 billion for flood risk management over the period 2018-2027.

The Minister for Finance has overall responsibility for the Government’s flood insurance policy. The Office of Public Works (OPW) has an important role to assist insurance companies to take into account the protection provided by flood defence schemes completed by the OPW.

In this regard, the OPW has a Memorandum of Understanding with Insurance Ireland, the representative body of the insurance industry. This Memorandum sets out principles of how the two organisations work together to ensure that appropriate data on completed schemes is provided to insurers to facilitate, to the greatest extent possible, the availability to the public of insurance against the risk of flooding.

The insurance industry has its own flood modelling tools for assessing the level of risk that it is willing to underwrite in relation to individual properties. While the Memorandum notes the OPW requirement that, when assessing exposure to flood risk, insurers take full account of information provided by the OPW on completed schemes, it does not guarantee the availability of flood risk cover in the locations for which information has been provided. The decision on whether to offer insurance, the level of premiums charged and the policy terms applied are commercial decisions for individual insurers based on their assessment of the risks they would be accepting on a case-by-case basis.