Tax Reliefs Costs

Ceisteanna (127)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

127. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost of increasing by €100 the maximum VRT relief for electric vehicles. [51131/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that, based on current trends in the vehicle market, the estimated annual cost of increasing the maximum amount of Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) relief for an electric vehicle by €100 (from the current maximum of €5,000) is €0.4m.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (128, 129)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

128. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the estimated first and full-year cost of increasing the income tax standard rate bands in line with projected core harmonised index of consumer prices, HICP, inflation in each of the years 2021 to 2025. [51133/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

129. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the estimated first and full-year cost of increasing income tax credits in line with projected core HICP inflation in each of the years 2021 to 2025. [51134/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 128 and 129 together.

Page 10 of the Post-Budget 2020 Revenue Ready Reckoner includes a table that shows the estimated cost of a 1% indexation of credits, rate bands and exemption limits for Income Tax and the Universal Social Charge. As per this document, the total full year cost of a 1% increase in the personal tax credits (including the Home Carer Tax Credit) and the rate bands is estimated to be €129 million.

Revenue have advised that these figures are based on projected 2020 incomes as calculated on the basis of actual data for the year 2017, the latest year for which returns are available, adjusted as necessary for income, self-employment and employment trends in the interim. The figures are provisional and may be revised. Revenue does not provide cost estimates beyond the tax year 2020. The Ready Reckoner is available on Revenue’s website at https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/statistics/ready-reckoner.pdf.

Increases greater than 1% can be estimated on a straight-line or pro-rata basis from the information given.

Table 7 on page 18 of the Department of Finance Budget 2020 Economic and Fiscal Outlook publication (available at http://budget.gov.ie/Budgets/2020/Documents/Budget/Budget%202020_Economic%20and%20Fiscal%20Outlook_B.pdf) contains the updated macroeconomic and fiscal forecasts for the period 2019-2024, including core Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HCIP). As the document sets out, core HCIP is forecast to be 1.5% for 2020.

Based on this figure and the information in the most recent Revenue Ready Reckoner, the estimated full year cost of increasing the personal tax credits (including the Home Carer Tax Credit) and the rate bands in line with core HICP inflation in 2020 would be €193.5 million.

Insurance Industry Regulation

Ceisteanna (130)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

130. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if a review has been conducted into the sale of whole-of-life insurance policies; if there has been an investigation into the attachment of such policies to mortgages without the full consent of mortgage holders in view of comments made by the Minister for State with special responsibility for financial services and insurance on 20 February 2018 in Seanad Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51214/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Minister of State’s comments about whole-of-life insurance policies in the Seanad in February 2018 were mainly related to the ability of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) to investigate complaints in relating to long-term financial products within the original 6 year timeframe contained in Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017.

Following the examination of this issue by my Department, the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017 was amended in relation to the definition of a “long term financial service”, which could include, but was not exclusively related, to whole of life insurance policies, to give the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman greater scope to accept complaints about such financial instruments. The amendment was made in Section 9 of the Markets in Financial Instruments Act 2018 that was enacted in October 2018.

As regard the Deputy's reference to the assignment of whole of life insurance policies to mortgages, the Consumer Credit Act 1995 provides that, except in certain specified circumstances, that a life assurance policy shall be put in place in connection with a housing loan, which is at a level that would be sufficient to replay the estimate principle amount in the event of the death of a borrower. The borrower can take out the policy from an insurance provider of his/her own choosing, or if it provides a sufficient level of cover, the borrower can assign the benefits of an existing life policy to the mortgage provider for this purpose.

Any person who has a complaint about the way a regulated financial service provider is handling such financial products, including the sale or assignment of such products, can make a complaint to the provider in the first instance or failing a resolution at that level to the FSPO.

Central Bank of Ireland Data

Ceisteanna (131)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

131. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the Central Bank of regulating the credit union sector in each of the years 2012 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the amount received from credit unions through the industry funding levy in each year; the methodology used to calculate the cost of regulating the credit union sector; the number of persons working on credit union regulation in the Central Bank; the payroll costs in each of the years 2012 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51269/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Central Bank has provided the table below detailing the cost to the Central Bank of regulating the credit union sector in each year since 2012 to 2018 and to date in 2019, the amount received from credit unions through the industry funding levy, the number of persons working on credit union regulation in the Central Bank, and the payroll costs in each year.

The Central Bank have informed me that in terms of methodology used to calculate the cost of regulating the credit union sector, from 2012 to 2018, Industry Funding levies for credit unions were capped at 0.01% of the total assets of the credit union sector, with the remaining balance covered by the Bank through subvention.

In 2019, levies payable by credit unions will be based on a percentage of each credit union’s assets as at 31 December 2019 as reported in its end December quarterly return to the Central Bank. In accordance with the approval of the Minister for Finance, the percentage will be determined in such a way as to recover 20 per cent of the 2019 cost of regulating the sector.

Year

Average Staff numbers

Payroll Costs

Amount received through Levy

Cost of Regulating Credit Unions

2012

47

3,306,511

1,398,596

Note 1

2013

57

4,622,579

1,375,178

Note 1

2014

62

4,139,359

1,380,453

Note 1

2015

57

4,014,405

1,407,189

Note 1

2016

61

4,136,476

1,483,376

16,749,396

2017

67

4,724,492

1,598,873

19,931,556

2018

64

4,512,117

1,664,988

16,889,381

2019 Jan -Nov

58

4,026,269

Note 2

Note 2

Note 1 : the Central Bank have also informed me that it is unable to provide the full cost of regulation for the years 2012-2015 in the time available. The Central Bank are in the process of gathering this information which will be provided to the Deputy shortly.

Note 2 : a year-to-date figure is also not available for 2019 but a full year figure will be available in Q1 2020.

Insurance Costs

Ceisteanna (132)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

132. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied) relating to insurance premiums for a circus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51273/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Let me say at the outset that I am very aware of the affordability and availability of cover issues facing businesses and organisations in the culture and leisure sectors including the organisation mentioned in the details supplied. I have much sympathy for the position such organisations find themselves in, however as the Deputy is aware, there are significant constraints on what the Government can do to immediately resolve this issue. In this regard, neither I, nor the Central Bank of Ireland, have any influence over the pricing of insurance products, and neither can we compel any insurer operating in the Irish market to provide cover as this is a commercial matter for insurers. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance (the Solvency II Directive) 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, the Government cannot direct insurance companies to cover certain types of risk, such as those in the culture or leisure sector. A further constraint is the fact that for constitutional reasons, the Government cannot direct the courts as to the award levels that should be applied.

Notwithstanding these constraints, reducing the high cost of insurance generally has been a priority for the Government. The Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) was established in July 2016 and undertook an examination of the factors contributing to the increasing cost of insurance in order to identify what short, medium and long-term measures could be introduced to help reduce the cost of insurance for consumers, businesses and the voluntary and arts sectors. The CIWG has produced two reports the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance and the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance.

Many reforms have been made already including amendments to the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004, the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act, and the establishment of National Claims Information Database in the Central Bank of Ireland, however it is clear that the single biggest challenge that still needs to be addressed and which is having the most impact on the culture and leisure sector is the level of awards that exist in Ireland, for relatively minor injuries, as compared to other jurisdictions. In this regard, the key recommendation arising from both of the CIWG’s reports was the establishment of the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) and the publication of its two reports. The PIC conducted a benchmarking of award levels between Ireland and other jurisdictions for the first time and this has been very helpful in identifying the scale of the problem that is faced. This research showed that award levels for soft tissue injuries in Ireland were 4.4 times higher than in England and Wales. The PIC recommended that a Judicial Council be established and that it should compile guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury. In carrying out this exercise, the PIC believes that the Judiciary will take account of the jurisprudence of the Court of Appeal, the results of its benchmarking exercise, etc. On foot of this recommendation, the Government with the support of all parties in the Oireachtas prioritised the passing of the Judicial Council Act 2019. This Act provides for the establishment of a Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee upon the formal establishment of the Judicial Council. This Committee is tasked with introducing new guidelines to replace the Book of Quantum.

With regard to the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee and the subsequent publication of its new guidelines to recalibrate award levels and replace the Book of Quantum, it is a matter for the Judiciary to put in motion the necessary process to expedite these. The first important step in this process was the recent announcement by the Chief Justice of the names of the seven “members designate” of the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee (PIGC), which will be chaired by Ms Justice Mary Irvine of the Supreme Court. This is a significant step forward as I believe it is a recognition of the prioritisation that the Judiciary are giving to this issue.

I am hopeful that the creation of personal injury damage guidelines by the Judiciary can result in the lowering of award levels. Were this to happen, I would expect a lowering of the costs of insurance generally. In this context, I note the comments made by the Interim Insurance Ireland CEO Gerry Hassett recently that if award levels come down so will premiums. I believe that this is a very reassuring commitment and it is one the Government intends holding the insurance industry to.

Finally, I wish to reiterate my view that a recalibration of award levels will go a very significant way towards addressing the current problems around the affordability and availability of insurance being experienced by impacted businesses and voluntary groups, including the arts and culture sectors. I also believe this recalibration in combination with the cumulative effects of the implementation of the two CIWG Reports’ recommendations will lead to a more competitive insurance market.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (133)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

133. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Finance his plans to reduce the current rate of the life assurance exit tax in order to bring it in line with the rate of DIRT; the reason there is an 8% difference in the two tax bands for savings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51290/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As the Deputy will undoubtedly appreciate, there were minimal changes in taxation in this year's Budget due to the need to take into account the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

Any changes to align the rate of financial products subject to LAET with DIRT rates has an Exchequer cost. On a post-Budget basis, the estimated full year cost of reducing Life Assurance Exit Tax (LAET) from 41% to 33%, thereby aligning it with Capital Gains Tax (CGT) and Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT), is €25 million. Costs and yields for changes to LAET are published on page 13 of the Ready Reckoner on Revenue’s website, which is available at the link below:

https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/statistics/ready-reckoner.pdf

Notwithstanding the potential cost to the Exchequer, there are also other issues and policy considerations that need to be taken into account when considering such a change and whether it is appropriate to align the taxation rate applied to financial products subject to LAET with the rate applying to DIRT. It is necessary to consider whether certain investment products are comparable with deposit accounts in terms of their structure, risk profile, and expected returns and losses which could support an alignment of the rates of tax applied to them.

Given the above, as well as the need for prudence in an uncertain environment, no change was made to the rate of Life Assurance Exit Tax in Budget or Finance Bill 2019. However, I have asked officials in my Department to give this matter further consideration as part of the Tax Strategy Group process for 2020.

Motor Insurance Costs

Ceisteanna (134)

James Browne

Ceist:

134. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Finance the steps he will take to lower motor insurance premiums here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51346/19]

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 price or the level of cover to be provided to motorists.

Notwithstanding this, reducing the high cost of insurance generally has been a priority for the Government. The Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) was established in July 2016 and undertook an examination of the factors contributing to the increasing cost of insurance in order to identify what short, medium and long-term measures could be introduced to help reduce the cost of insurance for consumers and businesses. The initial focus of the CIWG was the issue of rising motor insurance premiums and as part of that exercise, there was and has been extensive interaction with the insurance industry and its representative bodies. The CIWG has produced two reports the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance and the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance.

Arising from the work of the CIWG, there have been important steps taken to address the cost and availability of insurance including:

- The establishment of the National Claims Information Database in the Central Bank to increase transparency around the future cost of private motor insurance. The Central Bank is due to make its first report shortly;

- Reforms to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019 to strengthen the powers of PIAB around compliance with its procedures;

- The reform of the Insurance Compensation Fund to provide certainty to policyholders and insurers, resulting from the failure of Setanta Insurance;

- The recent changes introduced by the Central Bank of Ireland in relation to the renewal of insurance policies to assist the consumer to shop around for motor and home insurance;

- Commencement of the amendments to Sections 8 and 14 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 to make it easier for businesses and insurers to challenge cases where fraud or exaggeration is suspected;

- Various reforms of how fraud is reported to and dealt with by An Garda Síochána, including increased co-ordination with the insurance industry, a divisional focus on insurance fraud which will be guided by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (which will also train Gardaí all over the country on investigating insurance fraud), and the recent success under Operation Coatee, which targets insurance-related criminality, and;

- The commencement and prioritisation by the Law Reform Commission (LRC) of its work to undertake a detailed analysis of the possibility of developing constitutionally sound legislation to delimit or cap the amounts of damages which a court may award in respect of some or all categories of personal injuries, as part of its Fifth Programme of Law Reform.

I believe that these reforms are already having a significant impact with regard to private motor insurance (CSO figures from October 2019 show that the price of motor insurance is now 27.1% lower than the July 2016 peak).

A further important consequence of the work of the CIWG was the establishment of the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) and the publication of its two reports, which included a benchmarking of award levels between Ireland and other jurisdictions. This research showed that award levels for soft tissue injuries in Ireland were 4.4 times higher than in England and Wales. The PIC recommended that a Judicial Council be established and that it should compile guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury. In carrying out this exercise, the PIC believes that the Judiciary will take account of the jurisprudence of the Court of Appeal, the results of its benchmarking exercise, etc.

The Government with the support of all parties in the Oireachtas prioritised the passing of the Judicial Council Act 2019. This Act provides for the establishment of a Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee upon the formal establishment of the Judicial Council. This Committee is tasked with introducing new guidelines to replace the Book of Quantum. While the Government cannot interfere in their deliberations, I believe that the Judiciary recognise the importance of this issue and are prioritising it accordingly.

I am hopeful that the creation of personal injury damage guidelines by the Judiciary can result in the lowering of award levels. Were this to happen, I would expect a lowering of the costs of insurance generally. In this context, I note the comments made by the Interim Insurance Ireland CEO Gerry Hassett recently that if award levels come down so will premiums. I believe that this is a very reassuring commitment and it is one the Government intends holding the insurance industry to.

In conclusion, while the cost of motor insurance has reduced for the majority of motorists, I would hope that the recalibration of award levels may result in further reductions, in particular for those that may not be seeing the same level of reductions. In addition, this coupled with the cumulative effects of the implementation of the two CIWG Reports’ recommendations will include increased stability in the pricing of insurance for consumers and businesses and a more competitive insurance market.

Corporate Governance

Ceisteanna (135)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

135. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance the progress to date in tabular form regarding each of the action points made in the report Measures to Enhance Ireland’s Corporate, Economic and Regulatory Framework, published in November 2017; if each such action point has been completed, not completed or is ongoing, respectively; and the revised deadlines for action points not delivered by original timelines committed. [51396/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Department of Finance is the lead Department for ten key actions identified in the report, Measures To Enhance Ireland’s Corporate, Economic And Regulatory Framework. The majority of these actions have already been implemented and the others are in progress for implementation. The attached table provides details on the relevant action points.

Appendix – Table of Actions (Department of Finance Actions)Action Point No.

Action Point

Timeline

Relevant Bodies

Lead/Owner

Progress

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

Publish a progress report on the implementation of the recommendations of the Report of the Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis, which includes corporate governance measures

12

Publish Progress Report on the implementation of the recommendations of the Report of the Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis

Q4 2017

Department of Finance

Department of Finance

Near completion – Draft Report prepared and being considered.

13

Monitor the implementation of further recommendations from the Report of the Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis

Ongoing

Department of Finance

Department of Finance

Ongoing – Draft Report contains an assessment to November 2019 of the implementation of the recommendations from the Report of the Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis.

ENHANCING THE POWERS OF THE AUTHORITIES TO IDENTIFY AND COMBAT ECONOMIC AND REGULATORY OFFENCES IN THE FINANCIAL SECTOR

Examine whether any additional powers and resources are required to combat tax evasion and avoidance as part of Budget 2018 and its associated Finance Bill

18

Revenue, in conjunction with the Department of Finance, will continue to examine whether any additional powers or measures are currently required. Any such measures will then be proposed to the Minister for Finance for inclusion in Finance Bill 2018.

Ongoing

Department of Finance, Revenue Commissioners

Department of Finance

Completed - Funding allocated to Revenue in Budget 2018 will support them in undertaking a number of initiatives, including:

- Significant reform of the administration of the PAYE system; and

- The enhancement of ICT systems capacity for data matching and data analytics.

Implement MIFID II

19

Implement MiFID II, which broadens the powers of the Central Bank to remove (members of) the executive board from the management of [“failing”] MiFID companies

Q1 2018

Department of Finance, Central Bank of Ireland

Department of Finance

Completed

20

Extend the Market Abuse Rules to a wider cross-section of individuals under MiFID II

Q1 2018

Department of Finance, Central Bank of Ireland

Department of Finance

Completed

21

MiFID II Bill providing for criminal sanctions for serious infringements of MiFID II/MiFIR

Q1 2018

Department of Finance, Central Bank of Ireland

Department of Finance

Completed –Markets in Financial Instruments Act 2018 was enacted in October 2019

Implement the automatic exchange of financial account information under the global Common Reporting Standard (CRS)

22

Implement the automatic exchange of financial account information under the global Common Reporting Standard (CRS)

Q4 2017

Department of Finance, Revenue Commissioners

Revenue Commissioners

Completed - the first information exchange began in September 2017.

COUNTERING MONEY LAUNDERING AND CORRUPTION

Respond to the recommended actions of the Financial Action Task Force Report on Ireland’s Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism framework (due to be published September 2017).

23

Respond to the recommended actions of the FATF Report on Ireland’s Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism framework

Ongoing

Department of Justice and Equality and the various Departments and agencies involved in AML/CFT

Department of Finance

In progress (no deadline) – The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Report on Ireland’s Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) found that overall, Ireland has a sound and substantially effective regime to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing. It also made a series of detailed recommendations in regard to all aspects of Ireland’s AML/CFT regime.

An action plan to address those recommendations is in place and has been significantly progressed. Ireland underwent its second post review follow-up in October 2019 and received upgrades to 11 of its review findings and was removed from enhanced follow-up. Ireland is now compliant or largely compliant with 33 of the 40 FATF recommendations and partially compliant with the remaining 7.

Establish Registers of Beneficial Ownership for Companies, Industrial and Provident Societies (cooperatives) & ICAVs

25

Establish a central register for beneficial ownership of companies and industrial and provident societies

Q1 2018

Department of Finance, Department of Justice and Equality, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Companies Registration Office, Office of the Attorney General, Revenue Commissioners

Department of Finance

This has been delivered. SI 110 of 2019 establishing the register entered into force in March. The register went live in July with a filing deadline of 22 November 2019.

26

Transpose Article 31 4AMLD regarding trusts and similar legal arrangements

Q1 2018

Department of Finance, Department of Justice and Equality, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Companies Registration Office, Office of the Attorney General, Revenue Commissioners

Department of Finance

The Department of Finance concluded transposition of Article 31 4AMLD. This was delivered via SI 16 of 2019. The Department is currently transposing Article 31 of 5AMLD. This work is well advanced and is expected to be concluded soon.

Departmental Advertising Campaigns

Ceisteanna (136)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

136. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the advertising campaigns, promotional events and launches planned by his Department for the first six months of 2020; the budgeted costs of these campaigns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51410/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I can advise the Deputy that the European Financial Forum will be held on 12th February 2020 in Dublin Castle as part of the Ireland for Finance strategy. The Strategy is a whole-of-government strategy for the development of the international financial services sector and led by my colleague, Michael D’Arcy TD, Minister of State for Financial Services. The Forum is book-ended by events on the day before and the day afterwards that are undertaken with other state agencies and the financial services industry. The lead organiser for the Forum is IDA Ireland. No costs are incurred by my Department.

There are currently no other advertising campaigns, promotional events or launches planned by my Department for the first six months of 2020.

Data Sharing Arrangements

Ceisteanna (137)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

137. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Finance the data sharing agreements his Department has in place with organisations that are not other Departments or State agencies; the purpose of these data sharing agreements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51427/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by my officials, who were in consultation with the Deputy, that the Deputy's question is referring to any arrangements whereby the personal data of members of the public is shared with organisations not covered under the Data Sharing and Governance Act 2019 (i.e. non-public bodies).

In this regard, I understand that no such personal data is currently used by my Department and, as a result, it has no such arrangements in place.

I also wish to advise the Deputy that the Department is at all times very mindful of its obligations under the Data Protection Act 2018.

Freedom of Information Data

Ceisteanna (138)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

138. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Finance the number of freedom of information requests in which his Department made a decision to deny; and the number in which the Information Commissioner overturned the decision of his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019. [51461/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As the Deputy may be aware, in line with the Freedom of Information Act 2014, there are many grounds on which an FOI Body can refuse a request, including:

- Section 15(1)(a) where records do not exist

- Section 15(1)(b) insufficient particulars

- Section 15(1)(c) Voluminous

- Section 15(1)(d) information in the Public Domain

- Section 15(1)(h) Non Payment of Fees, etc.

Furthermore, the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) is not restricted in its deliberations to only consider appeals on cases where FOI requests were refused by an FOI Body. A requester may also submit an appeal to the OIC in instances where the Department has granted or part granted requests for records.

The information as requested by the Deputy is provided in tabular format below:

2016

2017

2018

2019

FOI requests refused

70

109

80

76

OIC reviews which annulled or varied the original decision by the Department.

2

1

2

1

Finally, decisions of the OIC can be found on the OIC website at https://www.oic.ie/

Departmental Agencies Data

Ceisteanna (139)

James Browne

Ceist:

139. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Finance the agencies or organisations under the remit of his Department; the number that have boards; the number of positions on each board; the number of vacant positions; and the agencies or organisations that have boards whose members have an obligation to appear before committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas. [51495/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

There are 17 bodies under the aegis of my Department, 6 of which do not have a board. These are the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Credit Review Office, the Credit Union Advisory Committee, the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, the Irish Financial Services Appeals Tribunal and the Tax Appeals Commission.

The details, as requested by the Deputy, of the remaining 11 bodies are outlined in the table below:

Body Name

Does the Body have a Board

Number of Positions on the Board

Number of Vacant Positions on the Board

Do any Board Members have an obligation to appear before committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas

Central Bank

Yes

10 – 12

1 – 3

Yes

Credit Union Restructuring Board (ReBo)

Yes*

3

0

No

Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal

Yes

5

0

Yes

Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman

No**

5 – 7

0

Yes

Home Building Finance Ireland

Yes

7

0

Yes

Investor Compensation Company DAC

Yes

12

1

No

Irish Fiscal Advisory Council

Yes

5

0

Yes

National Asset Management Agency

Yes

8

1

Yes

National Treasury Management Agency

Yes

9

0

Yes***

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

Yes

3

0

Yes

Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland

Yes

9

0

Yes

* The Credit Union Restructuring Board (ReBo) has been wound down since June 2017 and legislation is currently progressing through the Houses of the Oireachtas to formally dissolve ReBo. There is a caretaker board, consisting of 2 officials from my Department and an existing director, in place until ReBo is formally dissolved.

** While the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman does not have a Board, it is required pursuant to Section 37 of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017, to have a Council.

*** Under the NTMA Acts, the Chairperson and the Chief Executive shall, at the request in writing of a Committee, attend before it to give account for the general administration of the Agency, except for any matter which is or has been or may at a future time be the subject of proceedings before a court or tribunal in the State.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (140)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

140. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance the budget and number of staff working in his Department in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51566/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the budget and the number of staff working in the Department of Finance in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form, are shown below:

Budget allocation and Outturn 2014 - 2019 Budget Allocation

Outturn

Year

Year

2014

19,225,000

2014

17,563,074

2015

18,525,000

2015

17,456,082

2016

18,500,000

2016

16,627,095

2017

18,000,000

2017

17,409,670

2018

18,671,000

2018

18,108,809

2019

19,044,000

2019*

17,501933

*Figures to end of November 2019

Dec-14

Dec-15

Dec-16

Dec-17

Dec-18

Oct-19

Secretary General

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

Second Secretary

1.00

1.00

1.00

0.00

0.00

Asst. Sec

8.00

7.00

6.00

6.00

6.00

5.00

PO

21.80

23.80

25.70

23.70

27.90

26.20

AP

54.40

57.40

64.40

67.60

73.20

76.50

AO

56.00

56.00

65.00

77.00

70.60

77.10

HEO

26.83

24.83

25.83

21.73

24.63

20.78

EO/SO

35.13

29.50

31.50

30.80

38.20

29.10

CO

62.86

52.87

49.87

52.30

50.60

47.70

Service Staff

18.00

18.00

18.00

19.00

18.00

18.00

Other*

4.00

4.00

2.00

2.00

2.00

2.00

Sub Total

289.02

275.40

290.30

301.13

312.13

303.38

Unpaid Staff*

45.00

44.00

44.00

40.00

33.0

39.00

Grand Total

334.02

319.40

334.30

341.13

345.13

342.38

*Includes staff seconded into the Department, staff serving outside the Department and staff on unpaid leave

Property Tax Collection

Ceisteanna (141)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

141. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Finance if he will address a matter regarding property tax in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51601/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012, as amended, specifies that the liability to Local Property Tax (LPT) arises on 1 November each year in respect of the following year, for example 1 November 2019 in respect of 2020, and the designated liable person on that date is obliged to complete returns and make payment.

Joint owners of a liable property must designate the person to file LPT returns and pay the liability due. Once a person is designated as the liable person, Revenue engages with him or her on any LPT issues that arise.

I am advised by Revenue that the person in question was recorded as the designated liable person for the LPT liability in respect of the relevant property on 1 November 2019 and was therefore issued with a payment reminder for 2020. Revenue did not receive any communications from the person, or from any other party, regarding any putative changes to her status as the liable person.

Revenue has confirmed that the person should contact the LPT team at telephone number 065-6849081 as soon as possible to clarify matters. Revenue has also confirmed that it will write formally to the parties involved, setting out the legislative requirements in respect of LPT and requesting that the matter be clarified.

IBRC Investigations

Ceisteanna (142)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

142. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Finance the number of occasions on which section 19 of the Criminal Justice Act 2011 has been invoked by IBRC; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51627/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by the Special Liquidators that IBRC have invoked Section 19 of the Criminal Justice Act 2011 on five occasions.

Universal Social Charge Data

Ceisteanna (143)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

143. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost in 2020 if the universal social charge rate of 0.5% was discounted for persons earning between €12,012 and €19,000. [51690/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the cost to the Exchequer of exempting individuals who earn between €12,012 and €19,874 from the 0.5% Universal Social Charge (USC) band is estimated to be in the order of €22 million. The Deputy will be aware that individuals who earn under €13,000 per annum are exempt from the USC.

In order to provide an indicative costing to the Deputy, Revenue advised that it was necessary to increase the upper figure in her question from €19,000 to €19,874 to align with the current ceiling on the 2% USC rate band.

Customs and Excise Controls

Ceisteanna (144)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

144. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the amount of cash seized from persons entering or leaving the State by the Revenue Commissioners' enforcement unit at Dublin Airport in each of the past three years to date in 2019; the amount of cash forfeited to the Exchequer in each year; and the amount returned on appeal [51691/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the amount of suspect criminal cash detained at Dublin Airport on foot of Detention Orders granted by a Judge of the District Court are as listed in the following table. Detained cash is either returned to the claimant or forfeited to the State on foot of a Forfeiture Order secured at a Circuit Court hearing. Details of the cash returned, and the value of Forfeiture Orders secured arising from these detentions at Dublin Airport are also included in the table [1].

Table – Dublin Airport Cash Detentions 2016 to 2019

Dublin Airport Cash Detentions

Forfeiture Orders / Returns

Year

Value of District Court Detention Orders

Value of Circuit Court Forfeiture Orders

Value of Cash Returned

2019[to 30 November]

€458,102

Nil

€10,000

2018

€798,377

€19,730

€167,260

2017

€804,333

€360,824

€242,594

2016

€754,500

€604,711

€147,789

[1] Section 38 Criminal Justice Act 1994 as amended by the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2005 contains provisions that the total period of detention shall not exceed two years from the date the original Detention Order was authorised by a judge of the District Court. Hence the investigation of cash detained in 2018 and 2019 is ongoing in many of these cases.

Tax Deduction Systems

Ceisteanna (145)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

145. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the tax deductibility of expenses incurred by landlords against case V rental income such as replacement of furniture, washing machine, fridge and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51779/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that expenditure on furniture and fittings for rental properties, including “white goods” such as a washing machine or a refrigerator, can be claimed against rental income in the form of capital allowances for “wear and tear”. The allowances can be claimed at the rate of 12.5% of the cost of the item or items per year for a maximum of eight years.

Tax Agreements

Ceisteanna (146)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

146. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he has spoken with his EU counterparts recently, particularly since the NATO summit held in London at which the proposed digital sales tax of 2% to be placed on high-tech companies was discussed. [51538/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Deputy will be aware that the Commission proposal for an interim Digital Service Tax, which would impose a 3% levy on the turnover of certain companies’ digital activities, failed to find agreement among Member States when it was discussed at ECOFIN in March this year. The focus of the debate on international tax reform has since moved to the OECD, although it continues to be discussed among Member States – both at a technical and political level.

Most recently, an update on the OECD work on tax and digitalisation was on the agenda at ECOFIN on 6 November. All Finance Ministers within the EU remain in agreement that an OECD solution would be preferable to unilateral action by the EU or by Member States.

Ireland remains committed to global tax reform and believes that global solutions are needed to ensure tax is paid by companies where value is created. That is why Ireland has been a committed participant in, and strong supporter of, tax reform efforts led by the OECD through the BEPS process.

My officials are engaged in the latest round discussions taking place at OECD this month on the many outstanding technical issues on the proposals. Ireland will continue to actively contribute to work in the area of the tax challenges of digitalisation at both OECD and EU level.