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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 86-99
 Header Item Property Taxation Exemptions
 Header Item Revenue Documents Issuance
 Header Item Property Taxation Collection
 Header Item Illicit Trade in Tobacco
 Header Item Tax Collection Forecasts
 Header Item Universal Social Charge Payments
 Header Item European Banking Sector
 Header Item Fuel Rebate Scheme
 Header Item NAMA Operations
 Header Item National Treasury Management Agency Bond Issues
 Header Item NAMA Portfolio Value
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Delays
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 79 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 86-99

Property Taxation Exemptions

 86. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will ensure that all pyrite-affected homeowners are exempt from the proposed property tax as suggested by the Report of the Pyrite Panel until such time as their homes are remediated in full and in compliance with Building Regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57135/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Government is conscious of the very real costs and difficulties faced by people whose homes have been affected by pyrite. My colleague the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Hogan, has indicated that he considers that houses demonstrated to be subject to a certifiable level of pyritic heave should be exempt from the Local Property Tax. I propose to address this issue in the context of the Finance Bill.

Revenue Documents Issuance

 87. Deputy Joe Carey Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the progress to date in relation to the enhancement of links and communication by his Department and the Revenue Commissioners specifically in relation to the issuing of P21's when this is an issue regarding total annual income for person's; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57301/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Revenue Commissioners advise that they have extensive data exchange arrangements in place with the Department of Social Protection (DSP) and that these are under constant review by the two organisations. The arrangements have been significantly enhanced in recent times and following an exchange with the DSP in relation to DSP pension payments in late 2011, Revenue undertook to amend DSP pension recipients’ tax records with up-to-date pension information for 2012 onwards. I am further informed by Revenue that this project is ongoing, and they are not yet in a position to advise on the numbers of P21s that have been issued to date in respect of this project. Separately, the Deputy may be aware that Revenue is examining in conjunction with the Department of Education and Skills, and, separately, with the HSE, the feasibility of verifying annual income directly to those agencies, to reduce the need to issue P21s.

Property Taxation Collection

 88. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will review the proposal in the Finance (Local Property Tax) Bill 2012 for having a property tax levied on non-profit housing associations (details supplied) in view of the fact that the imposition of a property tax on housing associations providing accommodation will limit the financial ability of these associations to raise private finance, which will result in reduced social housing supply and people ion the waiting lists longer for the offer of social housing; if he will take into consideration the fact that many of these organisations are run by full time volunteers and are finding it increasingly difficult to fundraise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57167/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Where the owner of a residential property is a charity or a body established by statute and the property is used solely or primarily to provide special needs accommodation – that is accommodation provided to persons who by reason of old age, physical or mental disability or other cause require special accommodation and support to enable them to live in the community – that residential property will be exempt from the charge to the Local Property Tax. While non-profit housing associations engage in the provision of special needs housing, they also provide general needs housing in the same way as a local authority provides such housing. Most of their funding is provided by local authorities, the tenants are taken from local authorities’ waiting lists and a similar type of differential rents system applies. Depending on the level of local authority funding provided, some non-profit housing associations may have flexibility to provide housing for those not eligible for local authority housing. To provide for a blanket exemption for such bodies would obviously be inequitable vis-à-vis local authority tenants. For this reason I decided not to accept the recommendation in the Thornhill report that all charitable bodies should be exempt but to restrict the exemption to those properties that are used to provide special needs accommodation.

However, I acknowledge that government policy places significant emphasis on the approved housing body sector as an important part of social housing supply in the future. The Government will actively engage with Approved Housing Bodies to ensure that the Local Property Tax does not impact on their ability to deliver housing units.

Illicit Trade in Tobacco

 89. Deputy Noel Coonan Information on Noel Coonan Zoom on Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if his attention has been drawn to proposals put forward by the National Federation of Retail Newsagents Ireland to develop a smartphone application to aid in the detection of illicit cigarettes; if he believes such an application could be useful in the Irish context; if his Department and the Revenue Commission would be willing to assist the NFRN in developing this app; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57174/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the process of embossing secure tax stamps on cigarette packaging is the method currently used to assist in the detection of illicit cigarettes. Tax stamps are examined using a range of hand held devices that are available to all Revenue enforcement staff. The Revenue Commissioners advise that in 2009 the technical specification for tax stamps was significantly upgraded to make it more difficult for the stamps to be counterfeited. The stamp was further enhanced in 2011. The Revenue Commissioners further advise that this latest version has proven to be extremely robust in that regard. The Revenue Commissioners are constantly exploring ways to improve their methods of detecting illicit cigarettes. They are aware of the proposal to develop a smart phone application referred to by the Deputy and understand that this would operate by reading the bar-coding affixed to packaging by cigarette manufacturers. One of the key elements of any security feature on cigarette packaging is that it must be extremely difficult to copy. The Commissioners advise that it is not fully clear to them that bar coding would satisfy this particular requirement. Revenue will continue to examine any additional potential opportunities that bar coding and the use of phone apps for that purpose may offer but at present they have no plans to get involved in the development of an app which would be of marginal value in relation to their overall security requirements.

Tax Collection Forecasts

 90. 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 is satisfied with the situation in which self employed persons find themselves when their business and income operate exclusively in Northern Ireland but they themselves are resident in the Republic and who, despite paying tax in Northern Ireland, are subject to further income tax in the Republic of Ireland while PAYE employees in the same scenario are entitled to a reduction in income tax under Section 13 of the Finance Act 1998; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [57180/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan An individual who is tax resident in the State is taxable here on his or her worldwide income. Section 825A Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (as inserted by section 13 Finance Act 1998) provides that where an employee, who is resident in the State for tax purposes, holds a qualifying employment in another jurisdiction and –

(a) the income from that employment is taxed by that jurisdiction and such tax is not repaid or repayable, (b) the duties of that employment are exercised wholly outside the State, (c) the employment is held for a continuous period of not less than 13 weeks, and (d) for every week during which the employee works outside the State, he or she is present in the State for at least one day in that week, the amount of Irish tax due on that income shall not exceed the amount known as the “specified amount”.

In simple terms, taking the case of an unmarried individual (known as a cross border worker) tax resident in State whose only income is from working full time in Northern Ireland, where UK tax has been paid in full on that employment income, there is no additional Irish tax liability on that same income.

The relief under Section 825A does not extend to those individuals who are tax resident in the State but carry out their self-employment business outside the State (including in Northern Ireland). In such cases, the individual is liable to both UK tax and Irish tax on the profits of that business. However, double taxation on the same profits is avoided by Article 21 (Elimination of Double Taxation) of the Ireland-UK Double Taxation Convention which provides that the State will give a credit against Irish tax due on such profits for the UK tax paid on those same profits.

It is not necessarily the case that a self-employed individual working exclusively in Northern Ireland but resident in Ireland would pay additional tax in Ireland – her/his UK liability might be higher than her/his Irish liability, depending on the circumstances and the prevailing tax rates, credits and allowances. Equally it is possible that an employee’s liability to income tax might be higher in the UK than in Ireland.

I have no plans to change the current provisions but like all tax issues it is kept under review.

Universal Social Charge Payments

 91. 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 clarify the liability of self employed persons to pay the universal social charge when their business operates exclusively in Northern Ireland but they are resident in the Republic of Ireland and the liability of PAYE employed persons who work exclusively in Northern Ireland but are resident in the Republic of Ireland. [57181/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that individuals resident in the State are liable to tax and Universal Social Charge (USC) on their worldwide income. Therefore, where a person is resident in the State the following rates of USC apply to income from a business or an employment outside the State.

The standard rates of Universal Social Charge are: 2% on the first €10,036; 4% on the next €5,980; 7% on the balance. There is a surcharge of 3% on individuals who have income from self-employment that exceeds €100,000 in a year. This surcharge also applies to income over €100,000 from an employment outside the State which is treated in this State for tax and USC purposes in the same way as income from self-employment; that is, under self-assessment.

An individual whose total income for a year does not exceed €10,036 is exempt from USC.

European Banking Sector

 92. Deputy Arthur Spring Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan in the context of the Eurozone banking deal, which assigns regulatory powers to the European Central Bank for banks with assets greater exceeding €30 billion or one fifth of their home country's GDP, his views on the way this will affect the banking system here, specifically, if the pillar banks will come under ECB supervision.  [57187/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Under the agreement on a Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) recently reached by Ecofin Ministers the ECB will be the direct supervisor of the most significant credit institutions including those with assets of more than €30bn or with an asset-to-GDP ratio of 20%. To ensure the ECB is truly a European level supervisor it will involve banks in all participating Member States covering at least the three most significant banks in each participating Member State. By July 2013 the ECB in consultation with national competent authorities will publish a framework setting out the practical implications for the implementation of the regulation including the methodology for the assessment of the criteria mentioned above.

My Department is currently examining in conjunction with the Central Bank of Ireland the implications of the SSM agreement for Irish credit institutions. However, preliminary analysis would indicate that the two pillar banks, AIB and Bank of Ireland, meet the criteria for direct ECB supervision.

Fuel Rebate Scheme

 93. 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 reason he confined the granting of the fuel excise rebate scheme to licensed road hauliers in Budget 2013 and excluded passenger transport operators from the scheme in view of his stated replies to previous parliamentary questions; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [57191/12]

 94. 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 already sought permission from the EU Commission to introduce an essential users rebate for road haulage operators; if so, the reason he excluded passenger transport operators from an essential services classification; if he will consider adding passenger transport operators to the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57192/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 and 94 together.

  The proposal to introduce an auto-diesel excise duty relief for licensed road hauliers that I announced in the Budget is confined to licensed and tax compliant hauliers.

  However, I have received a number of submissions from, and on behalf of, private coach operators seeking to have this relief extended to them. I will consider this proposal in the context of the Finance Bill.

NAMA Operations

 95. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if a person (details supplied) has left the National Assets Management Agency to take up employment with their previous family business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57354/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), which assigns staff to NAMA, does not comment on individual employees.

National Treasury Management Agency Bond Issues

 96. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if a company (details supplied) has won the contract to value Treasury Holdings UK and Irish assets on behalf of the National Assets Management Agency; if so, the value and the duration of the contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57355/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by NAMA that there is not, nor has there been any such contract between NAMA and the firm concerned. NAMA advises that the Deputy is most likely referring to the Independent Business Review (IBR) that was carried out in respect of all debtor business plans from 2010. NAMA advises that Deloitte was one of a number of firms appointed, following a competitive public procurement tender process, to its IBR panel and that in June 2010 Deloitte was selected from this panel to independently review the Treasury Holdings business plan. NAMA advises that Deloitte completed this work in October 2010. NAMA advises that, as with any other IBR firm, it was a matter for Deloitte to determine where they sourced the property expertise required to complete the assignment. Typically, the input required from property specialists in IBR assignments was to comment on the debtor’s asset strategies as submitted in the draft business plan and to put forward their own expert views on asset strategy and the optimal timing of any proposed sales. NAMA is satisfied that Deloitte had sufficient property expertise available to them to complete this assignment in Ireland and overseas and understands that they engaged separate property advisors for each country. Any property expertise employed by Deloitte involved a contractual arrangement between them and the two separate property advisory firms concerned and NAMA was not a party to such contracts. The fee payable by Deloitte to secure such expertise was a matter between them and the firms concerned.

NAMA Portfolio Value

 97. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his views on whether a conflict of interest exists when a person (details supplied) joined the National Asset Management Agency as a portfolio manager in March 2010 has now left NAMA to resume work with their family firm which has won a lucrative contract to value Treasury Holdings UK and Irish assets on behalf of NAMA; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [57356/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan NAMA advises me that, given its remit under the NAMA Act, it must recruit staff with the requisite experience and expertise and that it would not therefore be possible to recruit only officers who have not worked with firms on NAMA panels. The key issue, however, is that NAMA takes steps to ensure conflicts of interest do not occur. Under Section 42 of the NAMA Act, before he or she is assigned to NAMA, each officer is required to provide a statement of his or her interests, assets and liabilities to the Chief Executive Officer of NAMA and the Chief Executive of NTMA. Furthermore, a key item for any NAMA evaluation group for procurement of services is a declaration by each member that they have no conflict of interest. NAMA advises me that this enables the Agency to ensure that potential conflicts of interest in the management of the loan portfolios are managed effectively; and that staff do not participate in decisions which may involve the allocation of work to companies for which they worked previously.

I am satisfied that NAMA have procedures in place to avoid conflicts of interest.

Student Grant Scheme Delays

 98. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the steps that he has taken to address the delays in the processing of student grant applications; the number of student grant applications that has been received by Student Universal Support Ireland; the number that have been processed, awarded, refused or are awaiting decision to date; the number of applications that were received from County Kerry and the number of these that have been processed, awarded, refused, awaiting decision to date; if he will reassure all applicants and their families that all fully completed applications will be processed by Christmas; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [57126/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I understand from Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that, as at the close of business on the 17th December, it has received 67,029 student grant applications for this year. Processing of 37,740 applications are now complete - 24,064 have been awarded, or awarded pending submission of final course details and 13,676 applications have been refused or cancelled. SUSI has 4,105 applications on hand which are currently being processed. Only 133 new applications have yet to commence processing. 6,910 applications that have been assessed are currently under query. SUSI is awaiting submission of documentation by the student on the remaining applications.

  In total SUSI, has received some 2,479 applications from County Kerry. Of these 1,348 are at completion stage with 925 applications awarded, or awarded pending submission of final course details by the student and 423 applications have been refused or cancelled. 56 applications are currently at appeal with SUSI. 104 applications are with SUSI awaiting review. 962 applications are awaiting documentation from the student. In a small number of cases the documentation may have been submitted by the student and it is currently being checked by SUSI. 9 applications are awaiting provisional assessment - these are applications received after the closing date. This data has been supplied to my Department by SUSI.

  SUSI is staffed to the level that has been requested and the resources have been put in place to enable them to process applications to completion, subject to all the necessary documentation having been submitted in order to make a decision in each case. The number of applications being processed has been increasing in recent weeks and every effort is being made to ensure that students get decisions on their grant applications as soon as possible.

SUSI has indicated that it is on target to progress all applications received to date with the necessary supporting documentation between now and the end of the year.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 99. Deputy Ciarán Lynch Information on Ciaran Lynch Zoom on Ciaran Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding a Student Universal Support Ireland grant application in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57130/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Officials in my Department have confirmed with SUSI, the new centralised grant awarding authority, that on the 6th December, 2012 a request for further documentation issued to the student referred to by the Deputy. When the requested documentation is returned the student will be notified directly of the outcome.


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