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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 60-67
 Header Item International Election Monitoring
 Header Item Property Tax Administration
 Header Item Carbon Tax Implementation
 Header Item Tax Code
 Header Item Property Tax Exemptions
 Header Item Property Tax Collection
 Header Item Bank Guarantee Scheme

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 804 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 95 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 60-67

International Election Monitoring

 60. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if his Department sent the new selection procedure to applicants for the new election observer roster; if there is an appeal or review procedure within his Department to handle complaints by applicants regarding selection for the election observation roster; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24727/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Joe Costello): Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello International election monitoring missions play an important role in the promotion of democracy and human rights. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade maintains a roster of observers for election monitoring missions. We aim to ensure that, when requested, Ireland is represented at an appropriate level in international observation missions for both elections and constitutional referendums. Irish observers participate primarily in missions organised by the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. However, they have also been involved in missions organised by the Council of Europe, the United Nations and the Carter Centre. Last year, I asked officials in the Department to carry out a review of the election observation roster. Following a call for applications, which was issued by the Department, and an appraisal process against published criteria, 200 individuals with a strong mix of skills and experience were selected to serve on a new roster, which came into effect on 15 May 2013. Due to the high quality of applications for the roster, a reserve panel was established from which applicants will be drawn should any roster members leave the roster.

The call for applicants to the new roster was published on both the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Irish Aid websites, with an information note setting out the details of the application process.

I am satisfied that all applicants were treated fairly and impartially. If any unsuccessful applicant wishes to have their application reviewed, the procedure is that a final review will be carried out by a senior official who has not been involved in the selection process.

Property Tax Administration

 61. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will provide in tabular form a breakdown of the number of properties registered nationally, by each local authority area for the local property tax to date; the estimated number of liable properties in both; the aggregate amount of tax to be returned from those registered thus far; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24499/13]

 62. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will provide in tabular form the number of properties registered in Dublin City Council for the local property tax to date; the estimated number of liable properties; the aggregate amount of tax to be returned from those registered thus far; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24500/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 61 and 62 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that in excess of 948,522 LPT Returns have been filed up to close of business Monday 20th May 2013. This represents 57% of the total Returns issued. Of the Returns received, 657,157 were filed electronically and 291,365 were paper Returns.

As the Deputy will appreciate, with returns being filed on a constant basis, the Commissioners' focus is on processing the returns, dealing with correspondence, telephone calls and payment processing. It would not be practical or particularly useful for the Revenue Commissioners to carry out detailed analysis on the final filing rate for liable residential properties, the value of the outstanding liable payments or the expected outturn until after the online filing deadline of 28 May 2013 has passed.

For completeness, the Deputy should note that in light of the arrangements provided for local authorities and social housing associations in the Finance (Local Property Tax) Amendment Act 2013, discussions are taking place on the most practical approach to securing LPT returns from those bodies.

Carbon Tax Implementation

 63. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will outline details of carbon taxation here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24708/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Finance Act 2010 provided for the application of carbon taxation to mineral oils, natural gas and solid fuel. Carbon tax was applied to petrol and auto-diesel with effect from 10 December 2009, and was extended to other mineral oils and to natural gas from I May 2010. The carbon tax on these products amounts to €20 per tonne of CO2 emitted and, in the case of mineral oils, is charged as a component of mineral oil tax rates. The introduction of carbon tax on solid fuel was delayed to allow a mechanism to be put in place to address the risk of coal products with lower environmental standards being sourced from outside the State. Regulations to enable local authorities to regulate and control the type of coal supplied in the State were put in place by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. The commencement of solid fuel carbon tax, with effect from 1 May 2013, was announced on that basis in Budget 2013.

  Initially, the tax on solid fuel is being charged at a rate of €10 per tonne of CO2 emitted. This will increase to €20 per tonne of CO2 emitted (the same rate as currently applies for mineral oils and natural gas) with effect from 1 May 2014.

  The current carbon tax rates are as follows:

Description Rate
Mineral Oil Products’ Carbon Charges

Light Oil:
-
Petrol €45.87 per 1,000 litres
Aviation gasoline €45.87 per 1,000 litres
Heavy Oil: -
Used as a propellant €53.30 per 1,000 litres
Used for air navigation €53.30 per 1,000 litres
Used for private pleasure navigation €53.30 per 1,000 litres
Kerosene used other than as a propellant €50.73 per 1,000 litres
Fuel oil €61.75 per 1,000 litres
Other heavy oil €54.92 per 1,000 litres
Liquefied Petroleum Gas: -
Used as a propellant €32.86 per 1,000 litres
Other liquefied petroleum gas €32.86 per 1,000 litres
Solid Fuel Carbon Taxes -
Coal €26.33 per tonne (weight)
Peat: -
Peat briquettes €18.33 per tonne (weight)
Milled peat €8.99 per tonne (weight)
Other peat €13.62 per tonne (weight)
Natural Gas Carbon Tax -
Measured based on net calorific value €4.10 per megawatt hour
Measured based on gross calorific value €3.70 per megawatt hour

Tax Code

 64. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he is satisfied that the current vehicle registration tax is compatible with EU law; the legislative changes he is proposing regarding keeping the tax in line with European Court of Justice opinions and rulings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24730/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that Section 132 of the Finance Act, 1992 provided for the introduction, from 1 January 1993, of “a duty of excise, to be called vehicle registration tax”. I can assure the Deputy that the legislation in relation to vehicle registration tax is compatible with the provisions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Accordingly, I have no plans to make any changes to the VRT system.

  Vehicle registration tax is a feature of the tax system in 18 other Member States of the European Union.

Property Tax Exemptions

 65. Deputy Seamus Kirk Information on Seamus Kirk Zoom on Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will consider introducing a means test in respect of the local property tax demand for families dependant on single parent family payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24767/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan While there is no specific exemption from or reduction in the charge to Local Property Tax (LPT) for families dependant on the One Parent Family Payment, the deferral arrangements in the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012, as amended, are focused on particular categories of householders and address cases where there is an inability to pay. For individuals on low incomes or those whose only income source is from the Department of Social Protection, the legislation provides for the possibility of deferring the charge to LPT in certain cases. A person who qualifies for full deferral can opt to defer 100% of the LPT liability. A person who qualifies for partial deferral can opt to defer 50% of the liability and must pay the balance of LPT.

To qualify for a deferral, the residential property must be occupied as a sole or main residence. The gross income thresholds for a full deferral are €15,000 for a single person and €25,000 for a couple, whether married persons, civil partners or qualified cohabitants. A person may claim a deferral if their gross income will not, “as can reasonably be foreseen at the liability date” exceed these thresholds in that year. To determine whether they qualify for deferral for 2013, liable persons are required to estimate on 1 May 2013 what their total gross income for 2013 is likely to be. Gross income from all sources consists of the total income before any deductions, allowances or reliefs that may be taken into account for income tax purposes and includes income that is exempt from income tax and income received from the Department of Social Protection but excludes Child Benefit. Where a deferral is being claimed on this basis, the LPT1 Return must be completed and the relevant deferral selected. The return may be submitted on-line at www.revenue.ie.

  A deferral of up to 50% of the LPT liability will be possible where the gross income of the liable person does not exceed €25,000 for a single person or €35,000 for married persons/civil partners/cohabitants.

  The full and partial deferral thresholds may be increased in the case of properties occupied as a sole or main residence and subject to a mortgage. In such cases, the gross income thresholds may be increased by 80% of the mortgage interest payments. The deferral option in such qualifying cases will apply until the end of 2017.

  Further reliefs apply for persons who have entered into an insolvency arrangement under the Personal Insolvency Act 2012, who may apply for a deferral of the LPT that is due during the period for which the insolvency arrangement is in effect. The Act also provides that a person who suffers both an unexpected and unavoidable significant financial loss or expense, as a result of which he or she is unable to pay their LPT without causing financial hardship, may apply for full or partial deferral.

  Interest of c. 4% per annum is charged on deferred amounts. This is half the interest rate charged in cases of non-compliance.

Deferrals allow tax not paid in a year to be rolled forward to be paid at a later date. Elections for deferrals are voluntary, subject to eligibility.  Taxpayers who had deferred payment, but who are no longer eligible for deferrals due to improved financial circumstances, have the option of leaving the original deferrals in place in respect of previous tax liabilities, or of paying them off either in single payments or gradually.

  Any amount deferred will be a relatively small part of the overall value of the property.

Property Tax Collection

 66. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the reason local property tax liability is taken immediately from customers' bank accounts when the explanatory booklet clearly states payment will not be taken earlier than 21 July 2013, option 2. [24505/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the payment option mentioned by the Deputy is the ‘once off’ ‘Single Debit Authority’ (SDA). SDA operates like an electronic cheque and facilitates liable persons who wish to pay their LPT liability in one full payment, and is deducted directly from their bank account no earlier than 21 July 2013. For liable persons using the paper version of the LPT 1 the Single Debit Authority payslip is situated at the bottom of the Return.

Where a liable person selects this payment option when filing via the online version of the LPT Return, then he/she has the extra flexibility to input an earlier deduction date than 21 July. Revenue can only deduct the payment earlier than 21 July where the liable person has instructed them to do so.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

 67. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if cash deposits held within approved retirement funds are covered by the bank guarantee scheme; the other protections that exist to protect cash held through private sector pension funds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24576/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I presume the Deputy when referring to the bank guarantee scheme means the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee Scheme 2009 (ELG Scheme) as amended. Those assets of an approved retirement fund which qualify as eligible liabilities under the ELG Scheme, including cash deposits, are covered by the Scheme. The Deputy will be aware that I announced on 26 February, 2013, the ending of the ELG Scheme for all new deposits and debt liabilities from midnight on 28 March, 2013. Eligible liabilities currently covered under the Scheme are fully described in paragraph 11 of the Schedule to the Scheme and may be briefly listed as:

- Deposits – (to the extent not covered by deposit protection schemes in the State or any other jurisdiction);

- senior unsecured certificates of deposit;

- senior unsecured commercial paper;

- other senior unsecured bonds and notes; and

- other forms of senior debt specified by the Minister in accordance with EU State Aid rules.

For liabilities to be eligible to be guaranteed, they must meet the criteria set out in paragraph 12 of the Schedule to the Scheme. Namely, they must not have a maturity of more than 5 years and they must be incurred in the issuance period, which runs from the date Participating Institutions in the Scheme received approval to join it to its recently approved end-date of midnight on 28 March, 2013. Additionally, in the case of deposits, they must not contain an event of default and must be denominated in a single, specified currency. The eligibility guarantee can be applied to standalone debt securities or to securities issued under programmes, as per paragraph 15 of the Schedule.

The Deposit Guarantee Scheme Regulations i.e. European Communities (Deposit Guarantee Schemes) Regulations 1995 (S.I. No. 168 of 1995) as amended by the European Communities (Deposit Guarantee Schemes) (Amendment) Regulations 2009, currently explicitly specify which deposits are excluded from coverage. Those deposits not specifically excluded are covered by the Deposit Guarantee Scheme. Deposits held by pension funds and retirement funds fall within the category of excluded deposits, though small self-administered pension schemes (SSAPs) are included.

The decision to include SSAPs and exclude ARFs, AMRFs and other pension funds/instruments was based on the fact that SSAPs are usually small schemes administered by the member(s) of the scheme whilst ARFs are managed by a qualified fund manager through a credit or investment institution.

Section 16(1)(n) of the European Communities (Deposit Guarantee Schemes) Regulations 1995 (S.I. No. 168 of 1995) as amended by the European Communities (Deposit Guarantee Schemes) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 specifies that pension schemes or retirement funds (other than a small self-administered pension schemes) are not covered by the DGS.

Certain personal pension products such as ARFs, AMRFs and PRSAs fall within the types of funds covered by the Investor Compensation Scheme and therefore, investors in these funds may be eligible for compensation if a covered investment firm goes out of business. The limit for claims under this scheme is 90% of the amount lost on the investment up to a maximum of €20,000. The Investor Compensation Company Limited (ICCL) issues compensation to eligible investors who can claim by contacting the ICCL directly.


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