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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 40-62
 Header Item Ministerial Functions
 Header Item EU Treaties
 Header Item NAMA Portfolio
 Header Item Public Sector Pensions
 Header Item Vehicle Registration
 Header Item Rent Controls
 Header Item Financial Services Ombudsman Remit
 Header Item VAT Rate Application
 Header Item Tax Code
 Header Item EU Issues
 Header Item VAT Rate Reductions
 Header Item Retail Sector
 Header Item Lobbying Data
 Header Item Banking Sector
 Header Item Tax Credits
 Header Item Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement Investigations
 Header Item Tax Code
 Header Item Tax Reliefs Data
 Header Item Small and Medium Enterprises Supports
 Header Item Budget 2017
 Header Item Excise Duties Yield
 Header Item Help-To-Buy Scheme Data

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 95 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 40-62

Ministerial Functions

 40. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the powers he has delegated to the Ministers of State in his Department; the date on which such delegation was made; if there were changes in powers delegated relative to the situation in place prior to 14 June 2017; if so, the details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42780/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As I indicated in my response to Parliamentary Question No. 84 of 27 September 2017, there are two Ministers of State appointed to the Department of Finance: 

  - Deputy Michael D'Arcy is Minister of State at the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with special responsibility for Financial Services and Insurance; and

  - Deputy Patrick O’Donovan is Minister of State at the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with special responsibility for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment. 

  No formal Delegation of Ministerial Functions Orders have been signed.  This position is kept under review in light of the requirements of the respective roles. There were no changes in powers delegated on or after 14 June 2017. 

EU Treaties

 41. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his views on the proposal to enshrine the fiscal compact, now an inter-government treaty, into the EU Treaty; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42969/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Following a referendum on 31 May 2012, Ireland deposited its instruments of ratification of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in Economic and Monetary Union done at Brussels, 2 March 2012, with the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union on 14 December 2012.

At present, the European Commission has not brought forward any legislative proposal to enshrine the fiscal compact into an EU Treaty..

NAMA Portfolio

 42. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the housing and commercial properties in the possession of NAMA in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42980/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Deputy will be aware that NAMA does not, in general, own property.  Rather, NAMA acquired loans for which the properties act as security.

Under Sections 99 and 202 of the NAMA Act, NAMA is prohibited from disclosing confidential debtor information, including information on the location and type of assets owned by debtors. It is therefore not possible to identify particular assets which secure NAMA loans in County Tipperary, as to do so would identify the owners as NAMA debtors.

I am advised by NAMA that its debtors and receivers control only a small number of properties in County Tipperary; as at 31 December 2016, just 0.05% (€586k) of the remaining NAMA-secured property portfolio was located in County Tipperary..

Public Sector Pensions

 43. Deputy Noel Grealish Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if calculations have been carried out on the tax forgone by not taxing accruing public sector pensions; the reason for not including such estimates in a future tax expenditure review in view of the fact that both public and private sector beneficiaries avail of tax relief in order to have a more accurate picture of the cost of pension provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [43003/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe With some minor exceptions, public sector pensions are paid from current expenditure and specific funds are not maintained. There is no capacity therefore to tax or to derive estimates of notional taxation foregone. The practice of calculating tax forgone on private pension fund accumulation relates to the fact that there are a several such funds. .

Vehicle Registration

 44. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if the VRT grant for fully hybrid vehicles of €1,500 will be extended to 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43026/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe It is the long-standing practice of Ministers for Finance not to comment on what may be contained in upcoming budgets.

Rent Controls

 45. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if a company (details supplied) can avail of the rent a room relief; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42213/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The rent-a-room relief was introduced with the aim of increasing the availability of rented residential accommodation. The room or rooms must be used for the purposes of residential accommodation, i.e. the occupants are effectively using the room on a long-term basis, either on its own or in conjunction with other parts of the residence, as a home. The relief does not apply to rooms that are used for business purposes.

Under the scheme, sums arising to an individual in respect of the letting, for residential purposes, of a room or rooms in his or her home, including, for example, sums arising from lettings to students for an academic year, and the provision of meals or other services supplied in connection with the letting, may be exempt from income tax where they meet the conditions of the scheme and where the individual's total gross income from such letting(s) is below the annual limit for the tax year in question. This limit was increased to €14,000 with effect from the 2017 tax year.

Income from the provision of accommodation to occasional visitors for short periods, including, for example, where the accommodation is provided through online accommodation booking sites, does not qualify for relief as the visitors use the accommodation as guest accommodation rather than for residential purposes. The tax treatment of such income is dependent on the nature of the accommodation irrespective of whether or not this is arranged through an internet-letting platform or other form of intermediary.

I am not favourably disposed to the extension of rent-a-room relief to income earned from the provision of accommodation through platforms such as the company in question, I am mindful such an extension could lead to unfair competition in the guest accommodation sector generally, by placing B&B and guest house operators who provide accommodation in the course of a trade at an unfair disadvantage..

Financial Services Ombudsman Remit

 46. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if, in relation to the complaints process of the Financial Services Ombudsman and in general when a person is making a complaint to a financial service provider, he will ensure that a legal personal representative of an estate is in no way treated differently from a person who is alive, including in the right to access all files and documents relevant to such a complaint; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42214/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Firstly, I must point out that the Financial Services Ombudsman is independent in the performance of his statutory functions, and it would not be appropriate for me to comment on how he performs those duties.

The Financial Services Ombudsman deals independently with complaints from consumers about their dealings with financial service providers. Any private individual or any business, club, charity, partnership or trust with a turnover of less than €3 million per year may make a complaint to the Financial Services Ombudsman. A legal personal representative may submit a complaint to the Financial Service Ombudsman on behalf of a deceased’s estate. The Financial Service Ombudsman has confirmed that once it has been established that the person bringing the complaint is the legal personal representative, these complaints are handled in the normal manner and in accordance with the usual procedures.  

On the issue more generally, the Central Bank has informed me that Chapter 10 of the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Code 2012 (‘the Code’) sets out how regulated firms must handle complaints received from consumers.  While provision 3.7 of the Code sets out how a regulated entity must deal with a person acting under a power of attorney, the Code does not include any specific requirements on dealing with persons with legal authority to act on behalf of a deceased consumer..

VAT Rate Application

 47. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae Information on Danny Healy Rae Zoom on Danny Healy Rae asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans to retain the 9% VAT rate for businesses involved in tourism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42231/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As the Deputy will be aware, it is a longstanding practice of the Minister for Finance not to comment, in advance of the Budget, on any tax matters that might be the subject of Budget decisions.

Tax Code

 48. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the reason a person (details supplied) living in Portugal cannot avail of the NHR status enabling those who become tax resident in Portugal the opportunity to receive qualifying income tax-free, both in Portugal and in the country of the source of income; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42270/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am advised by Revenue that it is not its practice to comment on the application of the provisions of the national law of other countries. I am also advised that if the Deputy supplies identifying detail in respect of the person and specifies the source of income concerned, or the individual contacts Revenue with details of his circumstances and the income concerned, Revenue will advise in relation to the application of the Ireland-Portugal Double Taxation Convention to that income..

EU Issues

 49. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the action he is taking at EU level to promote the need for persons living in one EU Member State to be allowed to purchase financial services products such as home loans and business loans from financial institutions based in other EU Member States; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42280/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The EU treaties provide for the free movement of capital and services between EU Member States.  As part of this EU common market for financial services, the “passporting” provisions in the Capital Requirements Directive IV (as transposed in Ireland through the European Union (Capital Requirements) Regulations 2014 - SI 158/2014), enable a licensed credit institution in another EEA jurisdiction to offer banking services/products to Irish residents.  (In this context, it should be noted that all Central Bank consumer protection requirements apply equally to credit institutions "passporting" in from another EEA Member State as they do to an Irish incorporated credit institution.)  Likewise, there is no general restriction on Irish residents obtaining banking services/products from non-Irish credit institutions.

However, despite these free movement provisions, differences remain between the credit and financial markets of Member States, and the EU has taken some further steps to more positively promote a closer level of convergence of such markets and associated services through the approximation of certain laws and the establishment of certain standards in the provision of services, consistent with a high level of consumer protection.  For example, the 2014 Mortgage Credit Directive (as transposed in Ireland by the European Union (Consumer Mortgage Credit Agreements) Regulations 2016 - SI 142/2016), provides for common minimum (and in some instances maximum) standards and requirements in the provision of residential mortgage credit (and also in the provision of mortgage credit intermediation services) to consumer borrowers in the EU and the 2008 Consumer Credit Directive (as transposed in Ireland by the European Communities (Consumer Credit Agreements) Regulations 2010 - SI 281/2010 as amended) provides for a similar common framework in respect of unsecured consumer lending.  Also, the EU Payment Accounts Directive (as transposed by the European Union (Payment Accounts) Regulations 2016) and the SEPA Regulation (EU Regulation No 260/2012) have been enacted, with the latter providing that a payment account in any Member State can be used for credit transfers and direct debits in any other Member State. 

Also, in 2015 the European Commission launched its Capital Markets Union Action Plan that set out a programme of 33 measures, focused on six objectives, which aim to establish the building blocks of an integrated capital market in the European Union (EU) by 2019.  Solid groundwork has been completed to underpin proposals to encourage retail investment EU-wide, such as the recent legislative proposal on pan-European personal pensions.

However, the level and scope for the further integration of credit and financial markets is being kept under review.  Specifically in relation to mortgages, the Mortgage Credit Directive requires the European Commission to consider the effectiveness and appropriateness of the provisions on consumers and on the internal market by 2019.  More generally, it could be noted that last March the Commission also presented its Consumer Financial Services Action Plan and this sets out further possible ways to provide consumers of financial services with greater choice and better access to retail financial services across the EU..

VAT Rate Reductions

 50. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans to introduce a VAT reduction on animal vaccines in order to help support better animal welfare on farms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42281/17]

 55. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans to reduce the rate of VAT on animal vaccines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42362/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 50 and 55 together.

  As the Deputy will be aware, it is a long-standing practice of the Minister for Finance not to comment, in advance of the Budget, on any tax matters that might be the subject of Budget decisions. 

Retail Sector

 51. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the percentage of transactions in retail outlets across the country in which persons pay with a debit or credit card; the arrangements in relation to the transaction fees that apply to the retailers facilitating such electronic transactions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42282/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am informed by the Central Bank that it does not collect data on the percentage of transactions in retail outlets where individuals pay with a debit or credit card, or on the transaction fees that apply to retailers accepting electronic payment transactions.

In terms of fees paid by retailers, in order to be able to accept payment cards a retailer appoints an acquiring company and agrees a merchant service charge with that company. The amount of the merchant service charge varies, often depending on the volume of card transactions the retailer accepts.

Budget 2016 introduced measures to support retailers by reducing costs and incentivising electronic payments. Changes were made to the interchange fees faced by retailers accepting cards, including halving the interchange fees for domestic consumer debit cards to ten basis points - one of the lowest rates in the EU. Those changes came into effect on 9 December 2015 and reduced the costs of accepting card payments, as interchange fees make up part of the merchant service charge collected by acquirers from retailers.

The Central Bank does provide other credit and debit card statistics, including the number of debit and credit cards currently in issue to Irish residents, and these are available on the website of the Central Bank. In addition, the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland produces a payments monitor which is available on its website.

Both of these sources of information evidence strong growth in the use electronic payments, particularly debit cards. The number of debit cards stood at 4,779,448 and the number of credit cards at 1,882,938 in August 2017. The latest Central Bank credit and debit card statistical release shows that debit card point-of-sale transactions, at €2.9 billion in June 2017, were 16% higher than the same month in 2016, while credit card point of sale transactions were 5% higher than in the same period in 2016..

Lobbying Data

 52. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the number of occasions on which he has been lobbied in respect of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill since March 2016; the persons he has met with; the dates of these meetings; the details of the basis of the lobbying; his views on the issues raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42291/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Since March 2016, my Department has received nine Representations from a number of organisations regarding the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, as follows:

  - IBEC;

  - Hume Brophy;

  - Responsible Retailing of Alcohol in Ireland – 3 Reps received;

  - Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland;

  - Alcohol Health Alliance – forwarded to Department of Health for direct response;

  - Q4 PR;

  - HSE West - forwarded to Department of Health for direct response.

  This correspondence was dealt with at Official level.   

  My Special Adviser has also received representations on this issue.

  I have not attended any meetings regarding the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. I am informed that my predecessor did not attend any such meetings in the timeframe indicated.

Meetings that took place at Official level did not have designated officers present from the perspective of the Lobbying Act.  Meetings with Designated Public Officials are required to be registered on the Register of Lobbying and are publicly available at: https://www.lobbying.ie/.

Banking Sector

 53. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the legacy losses outstanding from a tax perspective in banks (details supplied); the length of time into the future these losses can be carried forward to reduce tax; if an analysis has been carried out on the effect on the banks of restricting the losses that can be brought forward; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42308/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe S396C was a provision to the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, introduced by the NAMA Act 2009, which limited the amount of trading losses incurred by a NAMA participating bank that could be set off against future trading profits. The set-off was limited to 50% of the profit in any given year. It did not disallow any tax losses from being utilised but instead lengthened the period over which they could be used. Section 396C was introduced as a form of claw-back for the taxpayer.

  However, with the introduction of the new capital rules on 1 January 2014, under CRD IV and with the State having acquired ownership positions in the banks, it no longer served its original purpose and accordingly, in the Finance Act 2014, the Minister for Finance deemed it appropriate to remove the provision. The amendment of Section 396C put the covered banks in the same position as other corporates including other banks operating in Ireland. Indeed, I would highlight for the Deputy that the provision which allows the carry-forward of tax losses for set-off against future trading profits is available not only for banks but for all Irish corporates. This is a standard tax policy internationally.

  In relation to the impact on the banks of changing the treatment losses that can be brought forward, I can confirm that an analysis was carried out in late 2013 as part of the preparations for the Finance Bill 2014 when S396C of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 was amended.

  To recognise the part that the banks played in the financial crisis, in 2013, the Government also decided that the banking sector should make an annual contribution of approximately €150 million to the Exchequer for the period from 2014 to 2016. In Budget 2016, the payment of this levy was extended until 2021. The bank levy is expected to raise €750 million over the five years.

  My Department requested that each of the banks respond to the Deputy's query and received the following information.

  Bank of Ireland:

  "In 2016, the Group paid taxes of €263m to the Irish State and collected taxes of €858m on behalf of the Irish State. In the first six months of 2017, the Group paid taxes of €96 million to the Irish State and collected taxes of €455 million on behalf of the Irish State. Note 19 on page 81 of the published Interim Report for the six months ended 30 June 2017 contains the Group’s disclosures on the deferred tax asset that has been recognised in respect of historical trading losses. At 30 June 2017, deferred tax assets include an amount of €1,251 million in respect of tax losses which are available to relieve future profits from tax. Of these losses, approximately €1.1 billion relates to Irish tax losses and €0.1 billion relates to UK tax losses. It is currently projected that the deferred tax asset in respect of tax losses will be recovered in full by the end of 2038.

  The deferred tax assets have been recognised on the basis that it is probable the tax losses will be recovered as the Directors are satisfied that it is probable that the Group will have sufficient future taxable profits against which the deferred tax assets can be utilised. Under current Irish and UK tax legislation there is no time restriction on the utilisation of trading losses."

  AIB:

  "Information in relation to AIB’s Deferred Tax Asset are contained on Pages 257-259 and Pages 296–298 of the 2016 Annual Financial Report and Page 115 of the 2017 Half-Yearly Financial Report. At 31 December 2016, AIB Group recognised deferred tax assets of €2,928 million arising from unused Irish tax losses. No deferred tax assets were recognised in respect of other unused Irish tax losses of €122 million.

  Under Irish tax legislation, there is no limit on the period of time for which any company can carry forward losses incurred in its trade for offset against future profits for the same trade.

  Notwithstanding that AIB is carrying forward large amounts of trade tax losses, it also pays significant amounts of tax in Ireland such as the bank levy, corporation tax on capital gains and on non-trading income, irrecoverable VAT on purchases, and employer’s PRSI. In addition, it remits to the Revenue taxes collected from others including PAYE, USC and PRSI relating to its c. 10,000 employees."

  PTSB:

  "As noted in PTSB’s 2016 Annual Report, the PTSB Group recognised a deferred tax asset on tax losses carried forward of €373 million at 31 December 2016. This equates to tax losses of c. €2.98 billion. The Group has estimated that it will take c. 22 years for the tax losses to be utilised."

Tax Credits

 54. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans to increase the earned income tax credit to the same level as the PAYE credit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42360/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Earned Income Credit was introduced in Budget 2016 and then increased in Budget 2017. The tax credit is available to taxpayers with active self-employed trading or professional income and to business owners or managers who do not have access to the PAYE credit on employment income from their business. The credit provides a significant benefit to small business-owners right across the country including small retailers, publicans, farmers and tradesmen. It is estimated that approximately 147,500 income earners are currently in a position to benefit from the credit.

In Budget 2017, the Earned Income Credit was increased in value from €550 to €950.

As the Deputy will appreciate, with less than a week to go to Budget 2018, it would be inappropriate for me to comment at this point on what may or may not be contained in that Budget..

Question No. 55 answered with Question No. 50.

Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement Investigations

 56. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement or the Financial Regulator has carried out investigations into a company (details supplied) regarding the way in which it has operated and dealt with persons who gave it funds for investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42376/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement is under the aegis of the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Furthermore, section 949(3) of the Companies Act 2014 provides that the Director of Corporate Enforcement shall be independent in the performance of his statutory functions. Therefore, I, as Minister for Finance, have no direct function in such matters.

  I am informed by the Central Bank that based on the information as supplied by the Deputy, it would appear that this firm is not regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

  The Central Bank publishes Registers of all the firms and individuals authorised by the Central Bank on its website. Under EU law, some firms may be allowed to operate in Ireland without being authorised by the Central Bank of Ireland. Such firms are regulated by their home state, although the Central Bank of Ireland is responsible for some regulation in the Consumer Protection area, known as conduct of business rules. These firms may not appear on the Registers. Furthermore, not all financial service providers require regulation by the Central Bank (for example, credit intermediaries authorised by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission).

  It is a criminal offence for an unauthorised firm/person to provide financial services in Ireland that would require an authorisation under the relevant legislation which the Central Bank is the responsible body for enforcing.

  Consumers should be aware, that if they deal with a firm/person who is not authorised, they will not have access to the following protections:

  - Investor compensation schemes;

  - The services of the Financial Services Ombudsman;

  - The Directors and senior management of unauthorised firms are not subject to the Fitness and Probity Regime;

  - Unauthorised firms are not subject to prudential requirements such as regulatory capital requirements or safeguarding of client funds.

  Under the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Act 2013, the Central Bank has the authority to publish warning notices naming persons or firms who are providing financial services without the appropriate authorisation or who are holding themselves out to be a regulated financial service provider where they do not have the appropriate authorisation to provide financial services. The Central Bank also publishes a list of unauthorised firms in respect of whom warning notices have been published.

  Any person wishing to contact the Central Bank with information regarding unauthorised firms/persons may telephone (01) 224 4000. This telephone line is also available to the public to check whether a firm is authorised.

   

Tax Code

 57. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the steps his Department and the Revenue Commissioners have taken in order to be prepared for the introduction of a sugar tax in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42433/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Following the announcement in Budget 2017 of the introduction of a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks in April 2018, a public consultation was opened until 3 January this year.  The consultation invited interested stakeholders to make submissions in relation to the design, scope and practical implementation issues of the tax.  Thirty submissions were received, the majority of which came from the health sector and soft drinks industry. These informed the development of the tax. 

To further assist with the development of the tax, an implementation team composed of officials from Revenue and my Department was established together with a steering committee with representatives from Revenue, Department of Health and my Department. 

Extensive stakeholder engagement took place throughout the process to take into account industry views on the design of the tax. This included site visits to manufacturing plants, face-to-face meetings at a variety of levels, and a number of technical consultations concerning specifics of the tax. A channel of communication with industry remains open in relation to technical implementation matters.

Engagement with the European Commission was established to ensure compatibility of the tax, when implemented, with EU State aid law.  Similarly, discussions have taken place on a variety of policy and implementation issues with the UK public authorities, the Treasury and HMRC, as the UK will also introduce a similar tax commencing in April 2018.  Again, this channel remains open.

As well as being engaged with the above, Revenue has carried out the following preparatory steps for the introduction of a Sugar Sweetened Drink, SSD, tax:

- Engagement with the State Laboratory and Food Safety Authority of Ireland on product classification and labelling issues relating to the identification of products liable to the proposed tax;

- Development of draft legislative provisions that would be required to support the proposed tax;

- Development of proposals on Revenue IT infrastructure, payments processing and other tax administration, accounting and collection issues relating to the proposed tax. .

Tax Reliefs Data

 58. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the level of uptake to date on the improved CGT entrepreneur relief introduced in Budget 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42434/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am advised by Revenue that as the change to Capital Gains Tax entrepreneur relief took effect from 1 January 2017 and, as the tax returns for 2017 are not due to be filed until late 2018, it is not possible to provide information in respect of the level of uptake at this time.

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

 59. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he has received the approval of the European Commission for the introduction of a share based incentive scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42435/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As the Deputy will be aware, on a foot of a review of share based remuneration conducted in 2016, it was announced in the Budget 2017 that work had commenced on the development of a new, SME-focused, share-based incentive scheme, to be introduced in Budget 2018.

It was noted that such an incentive would require the approval of the European Commission and that officials would be engaging with the Commission to ensure that the incentive would comply with State Aid rules.  This process has been ongoing throughout the year and is expected to conclude in the near future.

The Deputy will be aware that it is not the practice of the Minister for Finance to discuss in advance the details of measures which may be under consideration as part of the Budget and Finance Bill. It is my intention to provide further information in the context of the Budget.

Budget 2017

 60. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the work that has been done since the announcement in budget 2017 on the possible introduction of a VAT compensation scheme for registered charities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42436/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Following the Budget 2017 announcement by my predecessor, officials of my Department re-engaged with the Charities Institute to examine options in this regard.

  However, the Deputy will be aware, it is a longstanding practice of the Minister for Finance not to comment, in advance of the Budget, on any tax matters that might be the subject of Budget decisions. 

Excise Duties Yield

 61. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the excise duty on tobacco products collected in each of the years 2014 to 2016; the estimated amounted to be collected in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42437/17]

: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am advised by Revenue that the excise duty collected on tobacco products in the years 2014 to 2016 is available on the Revenue's website at: http://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/statistics/excise/net-receipts-by-commodity.pdf.

  The estimate for the Excise to be collected on tobacco products in 2017 is €1,200 million. 

Help-To-Buy Scheme Data

 62. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the number of approved applications under the help-to-buy scheme to date in 2017; the estimated cost of the scheme in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42438/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am advised by Revenue that statistics on the help-to-buy, HTB, scheme are available on the Revenue Statistics webpage at: http://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/tax-expenditures/htb.aspx.

  These statistics, which are updated on a monthly basis (mostly recently at end September), provide a range of information in respect of the scheme, including the number of approved applications and the estimated total cost of approved HTB claims to date.

  As of 29 September, the number of applications received for the help-to-buy, HTB, inventive was 10,547, of which 7,341 have been approved.  Some 4,088 claims have been made, of which 3,451 have been approved.

  The estimated total value of approved HTB claims to date is in the order of €49.4 million, of which €15.2 million represent retrospective claims (for the period 19 July to 31 December 2016).

  At the time of Budget 2017, it was estimated that the HTB scheme would cost €40 million per annum but €50 million in 2017 due to the backdating of the relief in respect of properties which became eligible for the scheme since 19 July 2016. Currently, the estimate of €40 million for claims relating to 2017 remains valid.


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