Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 184-200
 Header Item Ministerial Advisers Remuneration
 Header Item Sale of Aer Lingus
 Header Item Tax Reliefs Availability
 Header Item Tax Reliefs Availability
 Header Item Tax Yield
 Header Item VAT Rates
 Header Item Insurance Costs
 Header Item Tax Compliance
 Header Item Consumer Protection
 Header Item Tobacco Smuggling
 Header Item NAMA Staff Remuneration
 Header Item Fuel Laundering
 Header Item Enterprise Support Services Provision
 Header Item Tax Reliefs Availability
 Header Item Tax Credits
 Header Item Tax Reliefs Availability
 Header Item Drug Smuggling

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 774 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 162 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 184-200

Ministerial Advisers Remuneration

 184. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the names of special advisers for whom salary increases have been requested; the amount requested; the details of those granted increases and the amount by which they were increased; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [40022/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore No such salary increases have been requested or approved. Ms Jean O’Mahony received a salary increment of €3,286 on 10 March 2012 in line with Department of Public Expenditure and Reform guidelines relating to Special Advisers.

Sale of Aer Lingus

 185. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the role of NewERA in the sale of Aer Lingus; his liaisons with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [36986/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan As was announced on 22nd February 2012 consideration will be given to the sale of the State's remaining shareholding in Aer Lingus when market conditions are favourable and at an acceptable price to Government. NewERA are providing advice to the relevant Government Departments.

Tax Reliefs Availability

 186. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the tax relief associated with Revenue job assist; if this has changed since the budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37383/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Sections 472A and 88A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provide tax incentives for both employers and employees, to help the long-term unemployed to return to employment. The relief under Section 472A, known as the Revenue Job Assist scheme, allows qualifying employees, in addition to their normal tax credits, to claim certain income deductions, including additional deductions for qualifying children, for the three year period after taking up employment. Section 88A provides an associated tax incentive for employers. Employers may claim a double deduction in computing the profits of the trade or profession in respect of the first 3 years’ wages paid to qualifying employees. This double deduction may also be claimed in respect of the employers’ PRSI contribution on such wages.

Both incentives apply in respect of individuals who have been unemployed for at least 12 months and are in receipt of a specified social protection payment or, who are in a category approved for the purposes of the scheme by the Minister for Social Protection with the consent of the Minister for Finance. The scheme was amended in Finance Act 2012 such that individuals signing on solely for credits with the Department of Social Protection can also qualify for the relief.

Tax Reliefs Availability

 187. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the maximum relief for the business expansion scheme; if this has changed since the budget; if the conditions have changed; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37384/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Budget 2011 replaced the Business Expansion Scheme (BES) with the Employment and Investment Incentive (EII) subject to EU approval. That approval was received from the European Commission in November 2011. The new incentive is available in respect of investments made on or after 25 November 2011. EII (like BES) is a tax incentive that provides tax relief for investors who purchase new ordinary shares in small and medium companies carrying on a trade. The purpose of EII is to enable companies raise new capital to expand their activities. The scheme allows an individual investor to obtain income tax relief on investments up to a maximum of €150,000 per annum (unchanged from BES) in each tax year up to 2013. The main differences between EII and BES are as follows: the maximum amount that may be raised by a company in any 12 months has increased from €1.5m to €2.5m; the lifetime amount that may be raised by a company has increased from €2m to €10m; the period for which shares are required to be held has been reduced from 5 years to 3 years; the maximum rate of tax relief for subscriptions for eligible shares has been reduced from 41% to 30%, in recognition of the reduced holding period; a further 11% of tax relief may be available at the end of the holding period provided the company concerned has increased its number of employees or its expenditure on research and development.

Unlike BES, which was limited to companies carrying on a restricted number of trades, EII applies to companies carrying on all types of trades— with a small number of exclusions, including managing hotels/guest houses/nursing homes, financing activities and dealing in or developing land.

Tax Yield

 188. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he has investigated the likely effects of an increase in corporation tax on employment, the presence of multinational corporations, and any other macroeconomic effects; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37391/12]

 242. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the amount of extra revenue that would be generated if corporation tax rose from 12% to 15%.  [38007/12]

 276. Deputy Peter Mathews Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the amount of additional revenue that would be raised as a result of a tax increase (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38383/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 188, 242 and 276 together.

The Taoiseach, myself and other members of the Government have repeatedly expressed the Government’s commitment to the retention of the 12.5% rate. In that context, I must state that this is a hypothetical exercise. It is possible to provide an estimate on a straight line basis assuming that the proposed levy would apply to the same taxable income of all companies to which the current standard rate of corporation tax rate applies. However in reality it is impossible to estimate the level of additional tax revenue that would be realised due to behavioural change on the part of taxpayers as a result of such a measure which would be a significant factor.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the full year yield to the Exchequer, estimated in terms of expected 2012 profits, of increasing the standard rate of corporation tax from 12.5% to 15% is tentatively estimated on a straight line arithmetic basis to be about €675 million. While this estimate is technically correct it does not take into account any possible behavioural change on the part of taxpayers as a consequence. In terms of an increase in the 12.5% rate, estimating the size of the behavioural effects is difficult but they are likely to be relatively significant. An OECD multi-country study found that a 1% increase in the corporate tax rate reduces inward investment by 3.7% on average. On this basis, it would take only a 2.5% increase in the rate (to 15%) to decrease Ireland’s inward investment by nearly 10%. This assumes the average applies across the board but in fact the effect is likely to be more extreme for Ireland.

The very major importance of maintaining the standard 12.5% rate of corporation tax to Ireland’s international competitive position in the current climate must also be borne in mind. Ireland, like other smaller member states, is geographically and historically a peripheral country in Europe. A low corporate tax rate is a tool to address the economic limitations that come with being a peripheral country, as compared to larger core countries. Ireland’s low corporation tax rate plays an important role in attracting foreign direct investment to Ireland and thereby increasing employment here. Recent research by the OECD also points to the importance of low corporate tax rates to encourage growth. Further, it would be difficult to justify such a move in the context of Ireland’s consistently strong view that we will not change our corporation tax strategy. Even a marginal change would undermine both our long held stance on this issue and the certainty of business, domestic and international, in our resolve to maintain that position.

VAT Rates

 189. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will exempt from VAT service companies that export more than 90% of their output; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37392/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Legal advice has indicated that proposals to exempt from VAT service companies that export more than 90% of their output are not in accordance with EU VAT law, with which Irish VAT law must comply.

Insurance Costs

 190. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the measures he has implemented to improve competitiveness in relation to insurance costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37404/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Pricing of insurance is generally determined by an assessment an insurer will make of the risks involved. Generally I understand that previous claims experience will have a major influence on such matters. Therefore, if there has been a major increase in claims in a particular area, as has happened with household insurance in the last few years, then this will be reflected in an increase in premiums.

Competition in the market place acts as a constraint in such circumstances, however insurance companies have always to be conscious of their prudential obligations and are required by the Central Bank of Ireland to meet their capital requirements on an ongoing basis in order to ensure the sustainability of their business. In these circumstances when they are exposed to a high level of claims, it is inevitable that their capital position will suffer and put pressure on prices. In this regard, it should be noted that the new prudential regime for insurers in the EU known as Solvency II which will come into force from the start of 2014 will place a greater emphasis on the need to price risk appropriately than the existing regime, and will in turn require insurance companies to be more conscious of their pricing policy. This will benefit the consumer in many instances. However in circumstances where there has been a significant increase in claims, it is likely to result in higher premiums.

It is worth noting that past initiatives, in particular the establishment of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board and legislation to improve road safety which has reduced accidents significantly still continue to make a major contribution to keeping insurance costs at a reasonable level. Another contributing factor to a more competitive market has been the introduction of greater transparency in the price of insurance products enabling cost comparisons be carried out e.g. the National Consumers Agency’s focus on providing information to consumers on financial service products including insurance on “Its your Money” website (www.itsyourmoney.ie). Finally, it should be noted that the ability of the Government to influence the competitiveness of insurance costs is limited as neither I as Minister for Finance nor the Central Bank can prohibit or restrict an insurance company from increasing its annual premium rates, as this is a commercial decision for the company in question.

Tax Compliance

 191. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his policy on tackling the hidden economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37428/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that their tax and duty compliance programmes are under constant review to ensure that they are focussed on the areas of greatest risk, including risks from the shadow economy. The hidden economy includes the suppression of sales, wages and income by registered businesses, fraudulent repayment claims, smuggling and trading in counterfeit and contraband goods, unregistered traders and individuals working and ‘signing’. It is a multifaceted issue that requires a co-ordinated and multifaceted response. Revenue tackles the problem of the shadow economy through its range of compliance and audit interventions including through targeted special projects. Case interventions are undertaken based on Revenue’s assessment of compliance risks, the level of those risks and other relevant information available. Revenue is using a wide range of methodologies to identify those operating in the shadow economy and is deploying the full range of compliance interventions. Activities can include covert surveillance, cold calls to businesses and venues as well as its audit and investigation programmes.

The Revenue’s approach to the shadow economy is underpinned by close consultation and cooperation with the Department of Social Protection. The primary objective of these activities is to uncover either non-declaration or under declaration of income and/or fraudulent DSP claims. The Hidden Economy Monitoring Group provides a forum for the exchange of views on the effectiveness of measures introduced in combating the hidden economy. This group, which is chaired by Revenue, includes representatives from employer and business organisations, trade unions and other Government Departments and agencies. Regional hidden economy liaison groups have been established to facilitate greater local interaction and more immediate responses to insights and issues that may be highlighted. Increasingly Revenue is finding that bodies and individuals are prepared to share insights and specific information with regard to shadow economy activity.

The Deputy will be aware of the continuing strengthening of legislation to provide for a robust framework within which the Revenue Commissioners may tackle tax and duty evasion, including recent provisions relating to:

- The making of returns of transactions by merchant acquirers, and other payment settlement entities, to the Revenue Commissioners.

- The more effective investigation of white-collar crime.

Other new provisions included a comprehensive package of measures in relation to Excise (Oils) including, requirement for separate licences for auto-fuel traders and marked fuel traders, requirement to have a separate licence for every premises or place at which the fuel concerned is dealt in, and a requirement that a licence must be clearly displayed at the premises or place.

Revenue’s tobacco strategy, “Strategy On Combating the Illicit Tobacco Trade (2011- 2013)” was published on the Revenue website in June 2011. This three-year strategy is underpinned by annual action plans. The strategic level plans include taking steps to ensure that the legitimate trade remains compliant, delivering more effective and visible interventions through enhanced capability and better deployment of Revenue resources. The strategy also include further development of cooperation and intelligence sharing at national and international level, together with a commitment to prosecute all serious cases of tobacco tax evasion and a focus, in partnership with other Government agencies, on reducing the demand for contraband tobacco.

During 2011 Revenue seized a total of 109m cigarettes in 10,581 seizures. Commercial quantities in maritime freight traffic accounted for 76.4m cigarettes. Revenue also seized 11,158kg of tobacco in 2011. In six particular operations, over 19m cigarettes, 1,344 kgs tobacco and 49 vehicles were seized. Regulations were also introduced in 2011 requiring Government Departments and State Bodies to supply details to the Revenue Commissioners, of payments made. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that this data is matched to the Revenue records of the various recipients, and is used to profile risk. Similar matching is also carried out using other third party data received by the Revenue Commissioners.

Revenue has a prioritised focus on those sectors that traditionally have been susceptible to shadow activity such as cash businesses. All possible sources of information, including following up on services advertised on TV, Radio, Local newspapers, Internet, special interest publications are used by Revenue. Revenue investigations have detected the use of computer programmes or electronic devices to alter or conceal sales records. To counteract these risks, legislation was enacted in 2011 providing penalties for the possession, use or supply of automated sales suppression devices known as "zappers" for the purpose of evading tax.

Streetscape programmes, in which every cash business in an area is visited, without prior announcement, have been carried out. The main focus of real time activity is on businesses that have the potential to operate with cash. This includes professionals such as doctors, veterinary surgeons, etc. These operations have also resulted in the registration of previously unregistered persons. 803 such registrations were recorded in the period from January to the end of April 2012. The results from all the various projects are reflected in the general audit and compliance results from audits, assurance checks, site visits etc. which are published in the Revenue Annual Report.

Consumer Protection

 192. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his policy on improving consumer confidence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37429/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Government considers that the best means to improve consumer confidence is to restore sustainability to the public finances, repair the banking system and improve competitiveness. Effectively addressing these three areas will result in increased employment, investment and consumer spending and will be key in driving this country forward. Looking more specifically at what the Government is doing to restore sustainability to the public finances, we have met all our fiscal targets to date and are on track to meet future targets under the Programme of External Financial Assistance. Furthermore, the Deputy will be aware that in the Medium-Term Fiscal Statement, the Government set out the required fiscal adjustment path over the medium term. This will provide Irish citizens with greater certainty regarding the magnitude of future budgetary adjustment measures and, in so doing, will help to improve confidence among households.

In terms of repairing the banking sector, the Irish banking system has been recapitalised to a very high level and has undergone significant restructuring to make it fit for purpose. The Government has imposed lending targets on AIB and Bank of Ireland for the three calendar years, 2011 to 2013. Progress on these lending targets is monitored by the Credit Review Office (CRO) and by my Department. Additionally, the CRO ensures that the pillar banks do not refuse credit to viable businesses, both by its existence and by offering the right to a review of refusals.

Competitiveness is improving and this is feeding through to exports and higher inward Foreign Direct Investment. Earlier this month, the CSO published revised outturn figures for 2011 which confirm that growth resumed in the Irish economy last year with GDP increasing by 1.4 per cent, which is stronger than previously thought. Most forecasters also expect positive growth this year, with exports leading the way.

The Government is acutely aware of the headwinds which the domestic economy faces. We have, therefore, taken a number of steps to support domestic activity and job creation, including the introduction of the Jobs Initiative shortly after coming into office and the structuring of Budget 2012 in such a way as to be as growth-friendly as possible. I would also note that the latest KBC/ESRI Consumer Sentiment Index for August shows a third consecutive increase in the index, which is at its highest level for about five years. Overall, we have seen that Government policies, both domestic and at EU level, are helping to improve confidence among consumers and investors.

Tobacco Smuggling

 193. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan in view of his commitment to increase the penalty for tobacco smuggling and provide robust protection measures to counteract such smuggling, and given that so far this has not happened and the illegal tobacco problem here is growing, his plans to deal with this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37645/12]

 232. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan in view of the efforts being made to raise revenue and that the combined loss to the Irish Government in tobacco, excise and VAT over the past two years has been €1 billion, his plans to tackle this massive loss; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37644/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 193 and 232 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners, who have responsibility for tobacco products tax, that tackling the illicit trade in tobacco is a priority for them. I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that it is extremely difficult to estimate the loss to the Exchequer which results from shadow economy activity and that claims about the extent of this activity and the associated tax loss must be treated with caution unless supported by credible analysis. Research commissioned by Revenue and the Office of Tobacco Control in 2010 estimated that 14% of cigarettes consumed in the State were illicit product, at a cost to the exchequer of €250 million in excise and VAT annually, assuming that in the absence of illicit cigarettes, smokers would smoke the same quantity of tax paid cigarettes.

In responding to the illicit cigarette problem, Revenue has adopted a comprehensive strategy that includes a range of programmes including border and inland operations, co-operation and intelligence sharing at organisational, national and international level together with ongoing investigation and prosecution of all serious cases of tobacco tax evasion. In the eight months to end-August 2012, 66.8m cigarettes with a retail value of €30.2m and 2,706 kg of tobacco with a retail value of €1m have been seized by Revenue. In addition, Revenue obtained thirty-eight convictions relating to cigarette smuggling, with fines of €63,750 imposed together with eighteen custodial sentences, four of which were suspended, and two community service orders. There were a further forty-eight convictions relating to the sale of unstamped tobacco products. Fines of €84,200 were imposed in these cases, in addition to seventeen custodial sentences, ten of which were suspended, together with one community service order.

In 2011, Revenue seized a total of 109.1m cigarettes with a retail value of €45.95m and 11,158 kgs of tobacco with a retail value of €4m. They also obtained one hundred and one convictions relating to cigarette smuggling, with fines of €136,300 imposed, and thirty-one custodial sentences of which twenty-one were suspended. There were a further fifty-seven convictions relating to the sale of unstamped tobacco products with fines of €115,850 imposed, and fourteen custodial sentences of which seven were suspended.

In relation to penalties, I am informed that persons convicted of indictable excise offences, including evasion of excise duty and dealing in unstamped tobacco products, are liable to a fine of up to €126,970. This amount was increased from €12,695 in 2010. In the case of evasion of excise duty, where the value of the excisable products involved in the offence is more that €250,000, a fine of three times the value of the products may be imposed. Persons guilty of these offences are also liable to a custodial sentence of up to five years. The specific penalties imposed in any particular case are, of course, a matter for the Courts. There are no proposals for further penalty increases at this time, but the position will be kept under review taking account, among other considerations, of practical experience of the operation of the increased fines provided for in the 2010 Act.

NAMA Staff Remuneration

 194. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the number of employees working for the National Asset Management Agency; the highest wage paid to a NAMA employee; the average wage for a NAMA employee; the recruitment process employed for new employees; if new positions are advertised for positions with NAMA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37923/12]

 313. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the number of persons working for the National Asset Management Agency; the number of different pay scales within the agency; the number of persons within each pay scale; if he will provide details on the recruitment process to which the agency adheres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38607/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 194 and 313 together.

All NAMA staff are employees of the NTMA and under Section 42 of the NAMA Act 2009, the NTMA assigns staff to NAMA. Other than a small number of staff reassigned from other functions within the NTMA, NAMA staff are employed by the NTMA on the basis of specified purpose contracts - their employment lasts for as long as their particular skills and experience are required by NAMA. NAMA reimburses the NTMA the costs incurred by the NTMA in assigning staff and providing business and support services to NAMA. As of 24 August 2012, some 217 staff had been assigned by NTMA to NAMA. The highest paid executive in NAMA is the Chief Executive Officer whose salary is €430,000. However, the CEO agreed to a request from me that he waive 15% of salary in 2012, thereby reducing it to €365,500.

Under the NTMA business model, there are no general pay scales. Staff are employed on the basis of confidential individually negotiated contracts. The average annual salary of staff assigned to NAMA is €100,000. This reflects the fact that, given the nature of its activities, the staffing complement assigned to NAMA is primarily composed of experienced professional staff with substantial private-sector experience. Remuneration scales by band for all NTMA and NAMA staff are set out in NTMA’s 2011 Annual Report. Vacant positions within NAMA are openly advertised on the NTMA website and positions are filled through a process involving competitive interview and aptitude tests.

Fuel Laundering

 195. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan in view of the statistics and figures regarding the usage of illegal road diesel, the measures he intends introducing to stamp out this illegal activity which is costing the Exchequer hundreds of millions in lost revenue every year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37981/12]

 350. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the proposals that he has to implement further measures to deal with diesel laundering and the resulting revenue loss to the Exchequer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39349/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 195 and 350 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners, who have responsibility for mineral oil tax, that tackling the illicit trade in laundered diesel is a priority for them. Revenue has responded very aggressively to the threat posed to the exchequer and to legitimate business by this criminal activity and has a comprehensive action plan in place to tackle the problem. The key elements of the Revenue strategy are: more effective monitoring and control of the mineral oil distribution chain; robust and sustained enforcement action; and cooperation with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in the UK.

A number of legislative provisions have been made, in this year’s Finance Act and in Revenue Commissioners’ Regulations, to underpin and support Revenue’s monitoring and control of the fuel supply chain, to make it more difficult for launderers to source marked fuel for laundering and to supply laundered fuel to retail outlets. The existing requirement for traders, who sell, deliver or deal in any other way with road fuels, to be licensed by Revenue is extended by the Finance Act, from 1 October this year, to traders who deal with marked diesel and marked kerosene. Road fuel and marked fuel may only be delivered from a premises or place for which the appropriate licence is in force or, in the case of cross-border deliveries, under the appropriate intra-EU procedures.

All licences are subject to conditions set by Revenue relating to the security and suitability of the premises or place concerned. A licence must be refused where an applicant cannot satisfy Revenue that those conditions can be met, does not hold a tax clearance certificate, or has, in the previous ten years, been guilty of an indictable tax offence. A licence may be revoked for failure to satisfy the specified conditions, on conviction for an indictable tax offence, or for any breach of excise law in relation to dealings with mineral oil.

The Mineral Oil Tax Regulations 2012 support and complement these Finance Bill provisions by setting down detailed procedures for deliveries of mineral oil, and for the keeping of records relating to those deliveries, and all mineral oil at the licensed premises or place. All deliveries must be carried out under a delivery document procedure, with copies to be held by that consignor, the consignee, and the person in charge of the delivery vehicle. There is a simplified procedure for small-scale deliveries to private individuals. A requirement is also introduced for a monthly electronic return to be made by mineral oil traders, setting out the details of their dealings in mineral oil. These new control requirements will come into operation on 1 January 2013, when the necessary systems and administrative arrangements, for the fuel traders and Revenue, are in place. The new Regulations also clarify the requirements for the records to be kept by the trader and made available to Revenue. The information from these delivery documents, returns and other records will provide Revenue with information essential to checks and audits at all points in the fuel supply chain, and the identification of suspect deliveries and anomalous transactions.

Revenue is committed to applying more of its compliance resources to combating the illicit trade in mineral oil, and continues to apply a broad range of compliance and enforcement strategies to detect and counteract illegal practices involving mineral oils. These include ongoing analysis of the nature and extent of the problem, development and sharing of intelligence with agencies on both sides of the border; the conduct of intelligence driven operations using covert surveillance to identify oil laundry locations; seizure of illicit product, laundering equipment and vehicles; physical sampling at road checkpoints; closure of unlicensed or improperly licensed outlets and seizure of stock, and prosecution of those involved in illegal activities in relation to mineral oils.

In 2011 nine oil laundries and 327,000 litres of laundered fuel were seized, together with nine oil tankers and twenty-nine other vehicles. Sixteen persons were arrested in the course of these operations and files have been sent to the DPP, who has to date issued directions to prosecute on indictment in respect of five of these cases and on summary disposal in a further case. In addition, over 718,000 litres of illicit fuel has been seized, the bulk of it at, or in the course of delivery to, retail outlets. To date in 2012 six oil laundries and 135,050 litres of fuel has been seized together with one oil tanker and nine other vehicles. Two people were arrested in the course of these operations. In addition to this over 548,000 litres of illicit mineral oil has been seized, the bulk of it at, or in the course of delivery to retail outlets. There have been two court convictions for laundered oil offences with a fine of €2,500 imposed in one case and a two-year suspended sentence in the other.

Revenue is also engaged in an ongoing and vigorous campaign targeting specific locations nationwide, with the intention of immediate closure of unlicensed outlets and challenging of instances of non-compliance. In 2011 thirty-two filling stations were shut down by Revenue because they did not have a licence or were in breach of licensing conditions. To date in 2012, twenty-seven such outlets have been closed.

Revenue enforcement is carried on in close cooperation with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by sharing intelligence and identifying and investigating the criminals involved in fuel fraud. In addition, Revenue and HMRC have been working in partnership to identify a new fuel marker that will be more resistant to fuel laundering, and a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the two authorities. A joint invitation for proposals was published in June and a joint information seminar was held for potential applicants on 24 July. Both authorities are committed to seeking the widest possible range of proposals, so that the most effective marker for the future can be identified.

Enterprise Support Services Provision

 196. Deputy Paudie Coffey Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the number of persons who have applied for the seed capital scheme in 2011 and to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37995/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The relevant information available is the number of applications approved for refund under the Seed Capital Scheme in each year. There were 86 applications approved in 2011 and 40 applications have been approved to-date in 2012.

Tax Reliefs Availability

 197. Deputy Paudie Coffey Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the number of new start-up businesses which have benefitted from the three-year corporate tax exemption scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37996/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the most recent available information on the relief in question is for the year 2010 and is derived from corporation tax returns filed in respect of that year. The number of companies claiming the relief for 2010 was 855.

Tax Credits

 198. Deputy Paudie Coffey Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the number of small and medium enterprises that have benefitted from the research and development tax credit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37997/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the total number of enterprises benefiting from the research and development tax credit for 2010, the latest year available, was 1,172. I should highlight that this is a provisional figure. Unfortunately, as the granting of a research and development tax credit is not dependent on the size of the claimant company, there is no basis on which to provide a breakdown of beneficiaries of the tax credit by reference to company size.

Tax Reliefs Availability

 199. Deputy Paudie Coffey Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will provide, in tabular form, the number of employees and employers, both nationally and in County Waterford, who have benefitted as a result of the taking a person one year out of work, double tax relief, scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38001/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Sections 472A and 88A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provide tax incentives for both employers and employees, to help the long-term unemployed to return to employment. The relevant information available in relation to the numbers of employees and employers who availed of the Revenue Job Assist scheme for the income tax years 2010 and 2011 respectively, the latest years for which the necessary detailed information is available, is set out in the following tables (to the extent that it is available). The figures are provided on both a national basis and also by reference to Co Waterford.

  Employees

Employees All Employees Availing of Revenue Job Assist Co Waterford Only
2010 650 13


  Employers
Employers All Employers Availing of Revenue Job Assist Co Waterford Only
2011 794 14


  It should be noted that the geographical region associated with an employee is the region in which wages and salaries are paid by the employer even though the employee may work or reside elsewhere. The information relating to the county breakdown of employees is based on income returns contained in Revenue records at the time the data were compiled for analytical purposes, representing approximately 93% of all returns expected. This is lower than the percentage applying to the numbers on a national basis also provided in this reply because the latter, in accordance with normal practice, are grossed-up at aggregate level to adjust for the perceived level of incompleteness.

Drug Smuggling

 200. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38136/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Revenue Commissioners have primary responsibility for the prevention, detection, interception and seizure of controlled drugs intended to be smuggled or illegally imported into the State. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they place particular emphasis on developing their intelligence base through a strong risk analysis focus at national and regional level and by deploying their resources to areas of highest risk.

To assist in its drugs enforcement intelligence and operational development at international level Revenue has assigned a Europol Liaison Officer to Europol Headquarters, a Revenue attaché in London and a Country Liaison Officer to the Maritime Operations and Analysis Centre – Narcotics in Lisbon. Officers from Revenue’s Customs Drug Law Enforcement Unit also liaise nationally and internationally with other law enforcement agencies to prevent, detect and intercept drugs destined for European and Irish markets and implement intelligence-led joint Revenue and law enforcement operations at European, national and regional level. At national level Revenue has signed over forty-three Memoranda of Understanding with various groups and organisations involved in the maritime sector and with international travel and trade service providers.

Revenue’s Drugswatch Programme assists in the monitoring of our coastline and airfields through its coastal and airfield reporting mechanism. This allows members of the public, including maritime communities etc., to notify in confidence suspect and/or unusual movements at sea or around the coast directly or through the Drugswatch Freefone. Revenue have permanent staff based at strategic locations and ports throughout the country. Also Revenue officers patrol the coastline including the harbours and piers. These patrols are selective and targeted and based on analysis and evaluation of national and international seizure trends, traffic frequency, routes and other risk indicators.

In terms of maritime surveillance there are currently two Revenue Cutters in service and these support Revenue’s teams of land-based enforcement officers involved in anti-smuggling duties. These Cutters are deployed to cover high risk/threat areas along the coastline and by their nature the timing and location of surveillance patrols are confidential. Additionally, Revenue officers, as part of the Joint Task Force on Drugs Interdiction continue to work proactively with the assistance of the Irish Naval Service and Aer Corps and engage in maritime surveillance and operations aimed at identifying, monitoring and intercepting vessels suspected of drug smuggling. As part of the task force, nation-wide liaison at national and local level between nominated Revenue and Garda officers takes place to exchange information and to pool intelligence on drugs smuggling.

This pooling of intelligence between the agencies at national and international level accords with best worldwide practice and enhances the focus on counteracting drug trafficking and the dismantling of drug organisations. To date, operations involving the enforcement agencies have proved successful in the detection of drugs and the successful prosecution of the smugglers and the Revenue Commissioners are satisfied that the current arrangements for maritime and coastal surveillance are sufficient and effective.


Last Updated: 06/05/2020 09:09:41 First Page Previous Page Page of 162 Next Page Last Page