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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 201-216
 Header Item Fuel Trader's Licence
 Header Item Tax Reliefs Availability
 Header Item Licensed Moneylenders
 Header Item Job Assist Scheme Expenditure
 Header Item Intestate Estates
 Header Item Dormant Accounts Fund Deposits
 Header Item Dormant Accounts Fund Management
 Header Item VAT Rate Application
 Header Item Regulation of Accountants
 Header Item Departmental Bodies
 Header Item Departmental Bodies Expenditure
 Header Item Job Creation
 Header Item Job Creation
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure

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. 201-216

Fuel Trader's Licence

 201. 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) regarding a fuel trader's licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [38375/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that from 1 October this year, anyone who sells or deals in, keeps for sale or delivery, or delivers marked gas oil or marked kerosene must hold a marked fuel trader’s licence in respect of each premises or place in which such mineral oil is sold or dealt in, or kept for sale or delivery. This licence will be issued by Revenue to successful applicants, and will expire on the 30th June next after the date on which it is issued. The licence fee is a flat rate excise duty of €250 imposed by Section 101(10) of the Finance Act 1999 (as amended), irrespective of whether it is for a full year or part of a year. This is the rate that has applied since 2001 to the licence required for traders who sell or deal in, keep for sale or delivery, or deliver auto-fuels.

Tax Reliefs Availability

 202. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the number of properties in receipt of the heritage property relief that were open or closed during National Heritage Week; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [38918/12]

 330. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the number of taxpayers that have had to reimburse the State due to failure to comply with the heritage property relief conditions on an annual basis since 2005; the number of audits relating to use of the relief that have been performed on an annual basis since 2005; the amount of revenue raised from such audits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38919/12]

 331. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the estimated cost on an annual basis since 2005 of the heritage property relief; the number of claims there have been on an annual basis since 2005 of this relief; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [38920/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 202, 330 and 331 together.

  The estimated cost on an annual basis, from 2005 to 2010 inclusive, of the income tax relief available under section 482 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 in respect of heritage properties, and the associated number of claims, are as follows.

Year Numbers Cost €M
2005 84 3.3
2006 180 6.2
2007 210 5
2008 290 5.9
2009 150 4.6
2010 140 3.9


I am advised that the number of properties in the scheme varies from year to year but averages around 200. However, the number of claimants in any one year refers to those property owners/occupiers who incur qualifying expenditure under section 482 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 within the year.

  The requirement, from 2012, to open during National Heritage Week applies where qualifying expenditure under section 482 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 occurs in a tax year. I understand that of the 187 property owners/occupiers in the scheme who were written to by the Revenue Commissioners  earlier this year, 166 indicated that they intended incurring qualifying expenditure in 2012, in which case the requirement to open during National Heritage Week would apply In addition to the 187 cases referred to above, 20 properties under the scheme are guesthouses which would also be open during National Heritage Week.

  Statistics on audit interventions are not compiled in such a way as to allow Revenue to supply figures for the number of audits, and the yield from same, of taxpayers who avail of tax relief in respect of heritage properties. As part of the Revenue Commissioners’ overall tax compliance strategy, sample compliance checks are carried out each year on taxpayers who avail of heritage property tax relief. For 2012, these checks would also have occurred during National Heritage Week. I understand that, since 2005, relief has been withdrawn or disallowed in two cases.

Licensed Moneylenders

 203. Deputy Catherine Byrne Information on Catherine Byrne Zoom on Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will consult with the Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland with a view to the banks capping the interest rate being charged by licensed moneylenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37029/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I mentioned in the House on 18 July 2012, at the conclusion of the debate on the Private Members' Bill on the issue of capping the interest rate charged by licensed moneylenders, that I would draw to the attention of the Governor of the Central Bank, the concerns and points raised during the debate. I have received a reply from the Governor in recent days and its contents are being examined. The Governor's response raises a number of significant issues which will require additional consultation between my Department and the Central Bank.

Job Assist Scheme Expenditure

 204. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the cost to the Exchequer to date of the Revenue job assist programme. [37031/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The cost to the Exchequer of the Revenue Job Assist scheme in each year since inception in 1998/99 to 2010, the latest year for which the necessary detailed information is available, is as follows:

Year Cost €m
1998/99 1.0
1999/00 2.7
2000/01 2.9
2001(short tax “year”) 1.7
2002 0.9
2003 0.6
2004 0.4
2005 0.4
2006 0.3
2007 0.3
2008 0.2
2009 0.3
2010 0.5

Intestate Estates

 205. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his role in the management of a deceased person's assets and finances when the deceased has not left a will and there are no living dependants. [37032/12]

 208. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the estimated value of assets formerly belonging to persons who are now deceased and who did not leave any indication of any beneficiary nor any living relative. [37035/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 205 and 208 together.

Section 73 of the Succession Act 1965 provides that where a person dies intestate and without known next-of-kin the estate of that person shall be taken by the State as ultimate intestate successor. Where an estate falls to the State under Section 73, it is administered by the Chief State Solicitor under the direction of the Attorney General. Depending on the extent and nature of the estate this process may involve the extraction of letters of administration from the High Court and advertising for next-of-kin. When it is established that there are no known next-of-kin, the proceeds of the estate are paid into the Intestate Estates Fund Deposit Account.

Under Section 73 of the Succession Act, 1965, the Minister for Finance has power to waive the State's interest in escheated estates. Every application for waiver is referred to the Office of the Chief State Solicitor for consideration. The CSSO, in consultation with the Attorney General's Office, as appropriate, deals with the legal issues involved. The Minister for Finance makes his decision on an application for waiver following consideration of the advice of the Attorney General.

Under Section 36 of the State Property Act, 1954, as amended by Section 28 of the Dormant Accounts Act, 2001, the Minister for Finance may transfer monies from the Intestate Estates Fund Deposit Account into the Dormant Accounts Fund which proceeds are used for charitable purposes. A sum of €4.4m was transferred from the Intestate Estates Fund Deposit Account to the Dormant Accounts Fund in 2007. The balance currently in the Intestate Estates Fund Deposit Account is €2.16m.

Dormant Accounts Fund Deposits

 206. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the estimated amount of money currently on deposit in financial institutions in the State formerly belonging to persons who are now deceased and who did not leave any indication of any beneficiary nor any living relatives known to the authorities. [37033/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by the National Treasury Management Agency - which is the manager of the Dormant Accounts Fund - that the balance of the Fund as at 31 August 2012 was €169,305,657. The Fund does not refer only to deposits of persons who are deceased. An account will be considered to be dormant if it has been 15 years since the last customer-initiated transaction. Under the Unclaimed Life Assurance Policies Act 2003, the net encashment value of certain life assurance policies are also transferred to the Fund where the holders of the policies in question cannot be traced. The NTMA is not in a position to determine how much of the balance in the Fund came from individuals who died intestate, or from accounts which have not been used for 15 years or more.

Dormant Accounts Fund Management

 207. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the typical length of time that unclaimed money, owing to the death of a person who has no will and no known next of kin, may remain in an account before the State becomes involved and the longest period for which such an account has remained open following the death of the account holder. [37034/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Section 73 of the Succession Act 1965 provides that where a person dies intestate and without known next-of-kin the estate of that person shall be taken by the State as ultimate intestate successor. Where an estate falls to the State under Section 73 it is administered by the Chief State Solicitor under the direction of the Attorney General. Depending on the extent and nature of the estate this process may involve the extraction of letters of administration from the High Court and advertising for next-of-kin. When it is established that there are no known next-of-kin the proceeds of the estate are paid into the Intestate Estates Fund Deposit Account.

The length of time between the death of a person who has no known next-of-kin and who has not left a will comes to the attention of the State depends on the circumstances of the case, including whether or not any other person has knowledge of the existence of a bank account and of the death of the account holder. In any event an account will be considered to be dormant if it has been 15 years since the last customer-initiated transaction and the proceeds of the account would fall to be paid into the Dormant Accounts Fund.

  Question No. 208 answered with Question No. 205.

VAT Rate Application

 209. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if VAT is charged on crested and official primary school uniforms; if so, whether this runs contrary to the zero VAT rate on clothes labelled and marketed for children under 11 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37037/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan As you are aware, Ireland applies the zero rate of VAT to children’s clothing and shoes under defined circumstances. Where crested and official primary school uniforms meet the criteria of children’s clothing then they will be subject to the zero rate, if not then the standard VAT rate applies. There is no special VAT treatment of crested and official primary school uniforms distinct from the VAT treatment of children’s clothing. Specifically, the zero rate applies to the supply of children’s personal clothing of sizes that do not exceed the sizes of those articles appropriate to children of average build of 10 years of age, in accordance with paragraph 10(1) of Schedule 2 of the Value-Added Tax Consolidation Act 2010. The articles of clothing must be described, labeled, marked or marketed on the basis of age or size and fur or partly fur skin clothing is excluded. The criteria for clothing size used by the Revenue Commissioners for the purposes of the zero rating are that children’s clothing must be of sizes up to and including 32” chest or 26” waist. Where crested and official school uniforms meet these conditions then the zero rate will apply to their supply.

Regulation of Accountants

 210. Deputy Arthur Spring Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the measures in place to protect clients of registered accountants when the accountant fails to provide sufficient information to the Revenue Commissioners despite the fact that the client provided all necessary information to the accountant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37038/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, in the absence of specific details of the failure in question, it is only possible to reply in general terms to your query. At the outset, it is important to note that the Revenue Commissioners do not regulate accountants. Accordingly, where a taxpayer engages the services of an accountant in relation to taxation matters, that contractual relationship is a private one between the taxpayer and the accountant – the Revenue Commissioners are not involved.

Failures by accountants to provide the services their clients contract with them to provide are, in the main, matters to be resolved between accountants and their clients. If an accountant’s failure to correctly deal with a taxpayer’s tax matters results in adverse consequences for the taxpayer, it would be a matter for the taxpayer to consider what redress he or she would have against the accountant in law and/or whether he or she would have a basis for making a complaint to the accountant’s professional representative body.

The Revenue Commissioners will consider all factors leading to any adverse tax consequence, but it is important to note that the Revenue Commissioners will not relieve a taxpayer of an adverse tax consequence solely on the grounds that an accountant was in some way responsible. Engaging an accountant does not relieve a taxpayer of responsibility of taking the necessary care to ensure that his or her tax matters are correctly dealt with. If a taxpayer is in any doubt as to the correctness of the handling of any particular aspect of his or her tax matters, appropriate enquiries can be made to Revenue, whether by contacting the appropriate Revenue office or, where relevant, by accessing the taxpayer’s tax record through the Revenue On-line service (ROS) or PAYE Anytime.

Departmental Bodies

 211. 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 number of agencies, authorities, boards, committees, working groups, tribunals, council services, task forces, agencies or other quangos set up by his Department since February 2011; the number abolished since then; the extra cost of quangos which were established; the savings from the abolition of quangos; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37245/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

Name of Body, Board  etc. Date established Were any bodies, boards etc abolished  since 2011 Cost of any new body , board etc set up since  Feb 2011/ savings associated with abolition of any board, body etc. set up since Feb 2011
N/A N/A INBS merged into IBRC in June 2011 Savings (not to the Exchequer directly of circa €200,000
Name of Body, Board  etc. Date established Were any bodies , boards etc abolished  since 2011 Cost of any new body , board etc set up since  Feb 2011/ savings associated with abolition of any board, body etc. set up since Feb 2011
Irish Fiscal Advisory Council July 2011 N/A 2011 outturn - €222,0002012 allocation - €650,000
Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising (D/Finance, Revenue & Irish Charities Tax Reform Group) April 2011 N/A Not remunerated

Departmental Bodies Expenditure

 212. 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 estimated cost of each quango in his Department; the amount expected to be saved from the mergers of quangos in his Department; the basis for this figure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37261/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The information requested by the Deputy is as follows.

  The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) was established in 1990 with a commercial remit outside the civil service structure. It has a range of functions providing asset and liability management services to Government. These include borrowing for the Exchequer and management of the National Debt, the State Claims Agency, the New Economy and Recovery Authority (NewERA), the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF), the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA), and the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).

  The NTMA reports directly to the Minister for Finance in the performance of its funding and debt management, State Claims Agency and NewERA functions. Each of the National Pensions Reserve Fund, the National Development Finance Agency and the National Asset Management Agency has its own board. The NTMA has an Advisory Committee to assist and advise on such matters as are referred to the Committee by the NTMA. The NTMA acts as the executive in respect of the NPRF and the NDFA.   In the case of NAMA it assigns staff to NAMA and also provides it with business and support services and systems. NAMA reimburses the NTMA for the cost of these staff and services from its operations.

  The NTMA’s net costs in 2011 were €41.2m. Of this €3.7m related to its functions in respect of the NPRF and €5.9m to its functions in respect of the NDFA. NAMA’s total administration expenses in 2011 were €128.4m,  including fees of €57m paid to participating institutions for the servicing of NAMA loans. These costs are met from NAMA’s operations. The fees and expenses incurred in the operation of the NPRF in 2011 (other than the costs incurred by the NTMA set out above) were €17.2m. These costs are met from the National Pensions Reserve Fund. The administrative expenses incurred in the operation of the NDFA in 2011 (other that the costs incurred by the NTMA set out above) were €0.081m. These costs are met from the Central Fund.

  The Credit Union Advisory Committee (CUAC)  is a statutory committee established under Section 180 of the Credit Union Act 1997 to advise the Minister for Finance on matters relating to credit unions. The work of this Committee is ongoing in nature and the Committee is to remain in place. The cost of the CUAC in 2011 was €23,356 and the estimate of expenditure for 2012 is €18,000.

  The Credit Union Restructuring Board (ReBo) was established on an administrative basis on 31st August 2012 pending the enactment of the Credit Union Bill 2012, when it will become a Statutory Body. Its work is to facilitate and support the restructuring of credit unions and it is to remain in place until 31 December 2015. The ReBo is to hold its first meeting on 28th September 2012. After that it will be in a position to formulate its work plan and outline its proposed cost. The Rebo will be funded jointly by the State and the Credit Union Sector.

  Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal: the Revised Estimates provision for 2012 is €330,000 and there are no plans to merge this body.

  Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, set up in July 2011: 2011 outturn - €222,000, 2012 allocation - €650,000.

Job Creation

 213. 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 number of new jobs created by his Department as a result of the jobs initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37277/12]

 214. 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 number of new jobs created by his Department as a result of the action plan on jobs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37293/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 213 and 214 together.

  Any matters relating to the jobs initiative are dealt with by my colleague the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mr Richard Bruton, TD.

Job Creation

 215. 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 number of new jobs created by his Department as a result of budget 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37309/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Government framed Budget 2012 in such a way as to make it as job friendly as possible, with various sectoral measures aimed at job creation. As I stated on Budget day, the primary purpose of the Budget was to support the creation and retention of jobs in the short term, the medium term and the long term. This has to be balanced with the need to restore public finances to a sound footing. I would like to point out that employment data are presented in net terms and information on gross flows into and out of employment is not available. This makes it difficult to assess the number of jobs created by any policy initiative. Having said that, I think it is fair to say that there are tentative signs of stabilisation in labour market conditions. For instance, the latest data from the Live Register showed an annual decrease of 13,457 (-2.9%) people on the Live Register in August. This helped to reduce the unemployment rate to 14.7 per cent, although clearly this remains way too high.

  So, leaving aside the fact that quantifying the impact is difficult, I am confident that the measures targeted at job creation for the different sectors of the economy in Budget 2012, as well as the measures introduced by the Jobs Initiative, such as reducing the rate of VAT in the high value added tourism sector, are playing an important role in both creating and sustaining employment. Finally, I want to reiterate that addressing the labour market difficulties remains the Governments biggest challenge and, accordingly, Government is giving its highest priority to job protection and job creation.

Departmental Expenditure

 216. 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 total amount spent on taxis by his Department since February 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37325/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan In response to the Deputy’s question my Department spent €36,748.16 on taxis since February 2011. Some €15,263.25 of this relates to taxis undertaken domestically. My Department has a policy of ensuring that staff who require to use taxis for official purposes are required to pay the costs themselves and claim recoupment through our accounting system. As well as individual trips the domestic costs include taxi’s ordered centrally through corporate services for business reasons. In the period in question some € 11,941.70 was spent on taxis ordered centrally. Included in this amount are costs related to taxi’s order in respect of the business requirements of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reforms as separate billing arrangements for such requirements were not introduced until December 2011. The remaining €21,484.91 spend on taxis in the period relates to taxis booked while abroad on Departmental business. Claims for these costs are paid through our accounting system on production of a valid receipt.


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