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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 232-250
 Header Item Departmental Programmes
 Header Item Social Insurance Refunds
 Header Item NAMA Property Rental
 Header Item Bank Branch Closures
 Header Item Personal Debt
 Header Item Pension Provisions
 Header Item Labour Court Recommendations
 Header Item Departmental Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Tax Yield
 Header Item Fuel Prices
 Header Item VAT Rate Application
 Header Item VAT Rate Application
 Header Item VAT Rate Application
 Header Item Social Insurance Rates
 Header Item Tax Reliefs Availability
 Header Item Mortgage Interest Relief Extension
 Header Item Tax Reliefs Application

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. 232-250

  Question No. 232 answered with Question No. 193.

Departmental Programmes

 233. 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 applications received for new stock relief incentive for farm partnerships, reduced stamp duty on agricultural land transactions, restructured capital gains tax retirement relief up until 30 June 2012, which he announced in budget 2012 for those involved in farming; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37648/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan No information is available as yet on the number of applications for the new stock relief incentive for farm partnerships, announced in Budget 2012, because this scheme will be applied for via the partnership’s tax return, and the returns for 2012 will not be submitted until 2013. Equally, the Budget 2012 changes to Capital Gains Tax retirement relief do not come into effect until after 31 December 2013, so information on the number of applications under the new provisions is not available.

  The rate of stamp duty on transfers of non-residential property, which would also apply to agricultural land, was changed in Budget 2012, applying to property transactions executed on or after Budget night 6 December 2011. The previous six rates were replaced with a single rate of 2%. Figures of Stamp Duty on non-residential transactions are not captured in such a manner that would enable a breakdown to be provided between agricultural and non-agricultural transactions.

  The available information on the numbers of claimants who availed of Stamp Duty reliefs on transactions in agricultural lands in 2010 and 2011 is as follows:

Relief 2010 2011
Transfer to Young Trained Farmer 1,170 865
Farm Consolidation (expired with effect from 30 June 2011) 45 55
Family Farm Transfer 14 15
Consanguinity relief 7,957 6,147
Commercial Woodland exemption 67 72
Transfer of site from parent to child (Abolished with effect from 8 December 2010) 3,003 839


  Corresponding information is not available for the year 2012.

Social Insurance Refunds

 234. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan further to parliamentary question No. 58 of 6 June, 2012 when a PRSI refundm will be granted to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; the reason for the further undue delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37697/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The matter is being actively investigated and my colleagues will revert to the individual in due course.

NAMA Property Rental

 235. Deputy Peter Mathews Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if the National Asset Management Agency is renting out any properties at an apartment block in south Dublin (details supplied); if so, the number of apartments NAMA is renting out; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37714/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by NAMA that it does not own or manage properties securing its loans and that the property to which the Deputy refers is under the control of its debtors and receivers. NAMA has acquired loans from the five participating institutions and is not the owner/operator of the underlying properties. The Agency’s role is that of a secured lender. Other than properties that have been enforced, all of which are listed on NAMA’s website and which are managed by the appointed receivers/administrators, properties continue to be managed by their existing owners or their professional managers/agents. The owners/professional managers are responsible for the efficient running of properties, the collection of rents and service charges, arrangements for letting of vacant units. I understand that a small number of units in the development to which the Deputy refers are under the control of a receiver appointed by NAMA and are currently let.

Bank Branch Closures

 236. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will provide an update on his policy on the closure by banks of branches in local towns and villages and the impact this has on the local communities effected and the need to ensure that banks serve the needs of local communities, including small businesses, residents served by poor transport links and people with disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37715/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan As you will be aware, operational decisions for the covered banks – AIB, Bank of Ireland, IBRC and Permanent TSB - remain the responsibility of the boards and managements of the institutions. Notwithstanding the fact that the State is a significant shareholder in these institutions, I must ensure that the banks are run on a commercial, cost effective and independent basis to ensure the value of the banks as an asset to the State. The Relationship Frameworks between the Minister for Finance and each bank define the nature of the relationships with those banks as per the Memorandum on Economic and Financial Policies agreed with the EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF. These Frameworks were published on 30 March 2012 and can be found at; http://banking.finance.gov.ie/presentations-and-latest-documents/.    As I have stated previously, the Deputy will appreciate that it is an inevitable, but unfortunate, consequence of the necessary restructuring of the banking system – and return to viability - that branches in certain towns and villages will be closed. I appreciate that the branch closures will have an impact on certain towns and villages, but I do expect that all the banks involved – not just AIB and Permanent TSB – will work with their customers to ensure that they minimise the impact of the closures.

  The Government is committed to the development of rural areas and supports this commitment with resources that aim to diversify the rural economy and improve the quality of life in rural areas. Programmes managed by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government such as the Rural Development Programme and the Local and Community Development Programme continue to provide the financial resources necessary to support both economic and community activity in rural Ireland thereby laying strong and sustainable foundations for vibrant rural communities going forward. Such communities are the cornerstone of economic recovery particularly in rural areas.

Personal Debt

 237. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if those with equity release loans (details supplied) have been taken into account by him in his plans to help those with large debts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37717/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Equity Release Loan in question was available from February 2001 to November 2010. It provided long term equity release for people over the age of 65. It was a way of unlocking part of the value of your property, without having to move home. The amount a customer could borrow depended primarily on their age and the value of the property in question. No repayments are required on the loan until one of the following events occur:

1. The property is sold

2. The death of the borrower (In joint cases, the last surviving borrower)

3. The property is vacated for six months or more (In joint cases, by the last surviving borrower).

As the maximum loan to value available was 30% of the house value, the incidence of potential negative equity in these cases is not material. Notwithstanding this, where a repayment event occurs, the Bank’s recourse is limited to the market value of the property at the point of sale. The borrower or their estate has no liability for any potential shortfall following sale. I have been informed that as no payments are required during the term of the loan, by definition it cannot accrue arrears and as a result the product does not fall within the scope of the Bank’s MARS strategies.

Pension Provisions

 238. 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 position regarding a pension cut in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [37724/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The individual to whom the question refers has written to my Office on a number of occasions in recent months outlining his concerns about the pension fund levy and other matters. My Office has responded directly to the individual on all of the issues raised.

Labour Court Recommendations

 239. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will supply a list of all Labour Court recommendations that have been issued in respect of his Department and organisations under his aegis that have not been complied with in full; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37753/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan No Labour Court recommendations have issued in respect of my Department.

Departmental Staff Recruitment

 240. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the position regarding recruiting persons with a disability; the number of persons currently employed in his Department; the number of persons with a disability who have been employed since 1 January 2011 to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37837/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan In 2011, the Department of Finance exceeded the statutory minimum target of 3% with regard to the employment of persons with a disability. Currently, 3.9% of staff in the Department of Finance has a disability.

Tax Yield

 241. 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 raised by increasing income tax on couples earning €120,000 if there was a 5% tax increase.  [38006/12]

 316. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will provide details on the extra revenue that would be raised by an increase of 5% on taxation for single persons earning in excess of €120,000.  [38646/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 241 and 316 together.

It is assumed that the threshold for the proposed new tax rate mentioned by the Deputy would not alter the existing standard rate band structure applying to single and widowed persons, to lone parents and married couples. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year yield to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2013 incomes, of the introduction of a new 46% rate on individual incomes in excess of €120,000 would be of the order of €214 million, with some €176 million of that yield derived solely from applying the change to all married couples.

However, given the current band structures, major issues would need to be resolved as to how in practice such a new rate could be integrated into the current system and how this would affect the relative position of different types of income earners. These figures are an estimate from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using latest actual data for the year 2010, adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends in the interim. It is, therefore, provisional and subject to revision.

  Question No. 242 answered with Question No. 188.

Fuel Prices

 243. 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 reducing the taxes applied to fuel in view of the ever increasing cost of petrol and diesel at the pumps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38024/12]

 320. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his plans to address the impact of rising costs of oil, petrol, gas and diesel on households and businesses which are struggling to meet their bills throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [38723/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 243 and 320 together.

Ireland, as with other countries, has experienced an increase in fuel prices. This increase is an international phenomenon. Fuel prices are driven by a number of factors including the price of oil on international markets, exchange rates, production costs and refining costs. The rise in oil prices over recent periods reflected additional factors such as geopolitical uncertainty in Northern Africa and the Middle East with potential supply disruptions.

The Exchequer yield from excise, as excise is set at a nominal amount, does not increase as the price of fuels increase. On the other hand, the yield from VAT per litre of fuel, as VAT is set as a percentage of the price, increases as the price of fuels increase. However, in this regard it should be borne in mind that to the extent that spending in the economy is re-allocated to petrol and other oil products, and away from other VAT liable spending, and to the extent that the overall level of economic activity is reduced by higher oil prices, there may be little or no net gain to the Exchequer.

It should also be noted that businesses are of course entitled to reclaim VAT incurred on their business inputs, including VAT incurred on fuel. For example, VAT incurred on auto-diesel and marked gas oil (MGO or green diesel) used in the course of business is a deductible credit for business in the Irish VAT system. VAT on petrol can not be deducted/reclaimed. There are no plans for temporary taxation adjustments, as to do so, could lead to significant costs to the Exchequer.

VAT Rate Application

 244. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if the application of VAT to a product service will be reviewed in respect of a person (details supplied) so that like products are taxed accordingly. [38032/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that based on the information on the named company’s website the service it supplies is guided tours visiting food establishments such as bread shops, food halls, street markets, cheesemongers, fishmongers, butchers, bakers and similar establishments. It would appear that participants avail of free samples of food at these establishments and no part of the cost of the tour relates to the supply of food. Based on this information the full consideration that the company receives relates to the supply of tour guide services, liable to VAT at the 13.5% reduced rate. The company should contact its Revenue District if it believes that the activities it is involved in are other than those described on its website.

VAT Rate Application

 245. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he is considering an extension of the VAT reduction scheme introduced last year and any widening of the scheme to include additional areas or industries. [38033/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Finance (No. 2) Act 2011 provided for a second reduced VAT rate, of 9%, on a temporary basis in respect of certain tourism-related services and goods for the period 1 July 2011 to 31 December 2013. I have no plans to extend the 9% rate to include additional areas or industries.

VAT Rate Application

 246. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan in recognition of the fact that an active lifestyle is important for both physical and mental health, if he will consider lowering the VAT rate on membership fees for gyms and public pools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38035/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I would point out that a low reduced VAT rate already applies to membership fees for gyms and swimming pools. While 75% of the goods and services liable to VAT in Ireland are subject to either the standard VAT rate of 23% or the 13.5% reduced rate, the VAT rate that applies to the supply of facilities for taking part in sporting activities is 9%. I have no plans to reduce further the VAT rate on gym and swimming pool membership fees.

Social Insurance Rates

 247. 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 proposed increases in PRSI, if he realises that small businesses in particular cannot take any more increases in taxes and are struggling at present to keep people in employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [38063/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The position is as I stated in my Budget day 2012 speech, that I intend to broaden the base for PRSI to cover rental, investment and other forms of income from 2013. I can assure the Deputy, that I am trying to take a balanced approach and the full details will be presented in Budget 2013.

Tax Reliefs Availability

 248. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will provide an update on the number of applications for tax relief in respect of the third level registration fee; the amount refunded in total to those qualifying for the relief and how this compares with his estimates for this tax relief; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38087/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The most recent year for which final information is available on the cost to the Exchequer, and the number of taxpayers availing, of the tax relief for third level educational fees is for the income tax year 2010. The relevant figures are as follows:

Year Estimated Numbers Availing Estimated Cost to Exchequer

€M
2010 31,700 19.4


  The numbers availing represent income earners who were in a position to absorb at least some of the tax relief and thereby give rise to an Exchequer cost. They do not include the numbers of potential claimants whose entitlements to other tax reliefs were sufficient to reduce their liability to tax to nil without reference to the specific relief. The numbers availing are rounded to the nearest hundred as appropriate.

  Projections for income tax receipts are based on assumed movements in macro-economic parameters and not by reference to the expected costs of individual tax reliefs. Accordingly, I am not in a position to provide a comment requested by the Deputy on how the emerging cost of the tax relief in question compares with estimated cost. A married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Mortgage Interest Relief Extension

 249. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he is considering removing the first-time buyer's incentive in budget 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [38092/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The position is as I stated in my Budget day speech, that mortgage interest relief will no longer be available to house purchasers who purchase after the end of 2012 and will be fully abolished from 2018.

Tax Reliefs Application

 250. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if the current exemption from stamp duty on farm land transfers within families that applies to recipients with green certificates will apply to recipients who are registered on a green certificate course but will not complete it until 2013 in view of the fact that the stamp duty has to be paid by the end of November 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [38228/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that Section 81AA of the Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999 provides an exemption from Stamp Duty on the transfer of agricultural land to a farmer who is:

a) Under 35 years of age and

b) The holder of certain educational qualifications.

In addition the farmer must spend not less than 50% of his or her normal working time farming the land and retain ownership of the land, for the period of five years from the date of the execution of the deed of transfer. The exemption applies to instruments executed on or after 2 April 2007 and on or before 31 December 2012.

Where the farmer, on the date of the execution of the deed of transfer on or before 31 December 2012, meets all the conditions for granting the exemption except that he or she is not the holder of the necessary educational qualification, the stamp duty must be paid. However, if subsequently the farmer obtains the necessary qualification within four years from the date of the execution of the deed of transfer, a refund of the stamp duty can be claimed provided the claim is made within four years of obtaining the qualification.


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