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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 73-87
 Header Item Economic Policy
 Header Item Tax Data
 Header Item Tax Data
 Header Item Tobacco Control Measures
 Header Item Tax Data
 Header Item Cycle to Work Scheme
 Header Item Cycle to Work Scheme
 Header Item Tax Data
 Header Item Insurance Industry
 Header Item EU Funding

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1005 No. 6
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 78 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 73-87

Economic Policy

 73. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the extent to which he expects, along with his EU colleagues, to design a benign lending system to assist economic recovery and job retention in the aftermath of Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17652/21]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As the Deputy will be aware, on 21st July 2020, Heads of State and Government reached agreement on the €1.074 trillion Post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and €750 billion recovery plan “Next Generation EU” (NGEU), totalling €1.82 trillion. The centrepiece of the NGEU is the Recovery and Resilience Facility, made up of €312.5 billion in grants and €360 billion in loans.

  In order to avail of funding under the grants element of the Recovery and Resilience Facility, all Member States must submit a National Recovery and Resilience Plan by 30 April 2021.

  Member States may also seek a loan under the Recovery and Resilience Facility, however, details on how the loan facility will operate are not available yet.

Tax Data

 74. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the estimated cost of extending the sugar sweetened drinks tax to beverages containing milk fats with more than 119 milligrams of calcium per 100 millilitres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17690/21]

 75. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the yield from the sugar sweetened drinks tax since its inception in 2018 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17691/21]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 74 and 75 together.

I am advised by Revenue that the yield from Sugar Sweetened Drinks Tax (SSDT) in 2018 and 2019 is published on the Revenue website at the following link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/statistics/excise/net-receipts-by-commodity.pdf

  The provisional receipts for 2020 and the first three months of 2021 are shown in the table below.

Year €m
2020 31.3
2021 (3 Months) 5.9


  In relation to Question 17690/21, tax return information available to Revenue does not include data on products not currently within the scope of the SSDT. Therefore there is no basis to estimate the yield from the extension proposed by the Deputy

Tax Data

 76. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the annual increases in the retail price of the most popular price category for a 20-pack of cigarettes since 2011; the portion of the increase related to taxes; the portion of the increase due to price rises by the tobacco industry in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17692/21]

 77. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the estimated revenue that would be raised annually if tobacco taxation were to be increased annually on a pro-rata basis in order that all packs of 20 cigarettes cost at least €20 by 2025; the estimated revenue that would be raised annually if an equivalent annual tobacco tax on roll-your-own cigarettes was introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17693/21]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 76 and 77 together.

  I am advised by Revenue that the annual increases in the retail price of the most popular price category (MPPC) for a 20 pack of cigarettes since 2011 are shown in the table below, together with the portions related to tax increases and trade increases.

Year MPPC Tax Trade Total MPPC
- at 1 January Increase Increase Increase at 31 December
-
2011 8.55 0.25 0.10 0.35 8.90
2012 8.90 0.28 0.12 0.40 9.30
2013 9.30 0.10 0.10 0.20 9.50
2014 9.50 0.40 0.10 0.50 10.00
2015 10.00 0.50 0.00 0.50 10.50
2016 10.50 0.50 0.30 0.80 11.30
2017 11.30 0.50 0.20 0.70 12.00
2018 12.00 0.50 0.20 0.70 12.70
2019 12.70 0.50 0.30 0.80 13.50
2020 13.50 0.30* 0.20 0.50 14.00
2021 14.00 0.20** 0.00 0.20 14.20***
*The tax increase in 2020 of €0.30 represents an increase of €0.50 in excise in October 2020 and €0.20 reduction in VAT from 23% to 21% on 1 Sep 2020.

**The tax increase in 2021 was €0.20 for the increase in VAT to 23% on 1 March 2021.

***The latest price for the MPPC at 31 March 2021 is €14.20.

  In relation to Question 17693/21, I am advised that given the range of prices of cigarette packs in the market, it is not possible from the available information to estimate the yield from a minimum €20 charge on all 20 packs.

  However, Revenue’s Ready Reckoner at link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/ready-reckoner/index.aspx

shows a wide range of detailed information, including on page 25 estimates for the yield from changes in duties on cigarettes (these estimates assume pro-rata increases in other tobacco products).

  The Ready Reckoner can be used to estimate the yield from increasing the tax on a pack of 20 cigarettes to €20 from the current MPPC. The timing of the yield would depend on the timing of the price changes chosen over the period to 2025.

Tobacco Control Measures

 78. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the funding provided to the Revenue Commissioners for 2020 and 2021 to combat tobacco smuggling; if the Revenue Commissioners are developing a dedicated anti-smuggling strategy; if the Covid-19 pandemic has had any impact on the Revenue Commissioners combatting smuggling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17694/21]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Revenue is a fully integrated tax and customs administration and, as a result, I am advised that it is not possible to disaggregate the resources deployed, or funding dedicated, at any given time to combat tobacco smuggling. Revenue currently has approximately 2,000 staff engaged on activities that are dedicated to targeting and confronting non-compliance. These front-line activities include anti-smuggling and anti-evasion, investigation and prosecution, audit, assurance checks, anti avoidance, returns compliance and debt collection. Resources allocated to these different aspects of enforcement and compliance work are continuously adjusted in response to changes in the level of risk in different sectors.

Revenue takes an integrated approach to combatting all forms of illegal trade and shadow economy activity, including combatting the illicit tobacco trade. I am advised by Revenue that, in its experience, those involved in the illicit tobacco trade do not necessarily confine themselves to a particular commodity type. As a result, Revenue implements an integrated approach to all forms of illegal trade as distinct from a product or commodity specific focus.

Revenue’s Statement of Strategy 2021-2023 includes a focus and commitment to confronting non-compliance, which includes tobacco smuggling. This commitment is given operational priority each year in divisional business plans and operational plans that reflect the particular nuances of some illegal trades and the modus operandi of those involved. Revenue’s actions under these operational plans are designed to maximise coordination Revenue-wide and deliver the best impact for the effort involved.

I am advised by Revenue that it implements a range of measures to identify and target the smuggling, supply or sale of illicit tobacco products, with a view to disrupting the supply chain, seizing the products and, where possible, prosecuting those involved. Revenue develops and shares intelligence on a national, EU and international basis, uses analytics and detection technologies and ensures the optimum deployment of resources on a risk-focused basis.

The smuggling of tobacco products has a transnational and cross border dimension and, in addition to Revenue’s ongoing cooperation with An Garda Síochána in this area, I am advised that Revenue also works closely with its counterparts in other jurisdictions including colleagues in Northern Ireland through the Cross Border Joint Agency Task Force (JATF), and international bodies including OLAF (the EU’s anti-fraud agency), Europol and the World Customs Organisation.

Finally, I am advised that Revenue’s activities aimed at combatting tobacco smuggling continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This work yielded excellent results and in 2020 Revenue seized 48.1 million illicit cigarettes and approximately 7,100kgs of illicit tobacco.

Tax Data

 79. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the estimated amount of revenue that would be raised annually if an excise tax of €0.06 per ml of electronic cigarette liquid was applied; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17697/21]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Tax return information available to Revenue does not include data on products that are not currently within the scope of tobacco taxation or other Excise charges. Therefore, there is no basis for Revenue to estimate the yield from the Deputy’s proposal.

Cycle to Work Scheme

 80. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the number of applications under the cycle to work scheme in 2020 and to date in 2021; the cost of the scheme in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17703/21]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Section 118(5G) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for the cycle to work scheme. This scheme provides an exemption from benefit-in-kind where an employer purchases a bicycle and associated safety equipment up to a maximum of €1,250 (and €1,500 in respect of pedelecs) for an employee to use, in whole or in part, to travel to work. Safety equipment includes helmets, lights, bells, mirrors and locks but does not include child seats or trailers.

  The cycle to work scheme operates on a self-administration basis, and relief is automatically available provided an employer is satisfied that the conditions of their particular scheme meet the requirements of the legislation. There is no requirement for an employer to notify Revenue of the operation of the scheme. This approach was taken with the deliberate intention of keeping the scheme simple and reducing administration on the part of employers.

  Accordingly, there are no records available on the number of people availing of the scheme.

  Tax expenditure reports prepared by my Department have estimated the cost in the full years referenced at €4 million but have been clear that this figure was an estimate as separate returns are not required for the same reasons as mentioned above.

Cycle to Work Scheme

 81. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his views on expanding the reach of the bike-to-work scheme beyond PAYE workers to all persons, that is, employers, sole traders, students, jobseekers, disabled, unpaid home work and the retired; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17704/21]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Section 118(5G) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (TCA 1997) provides for the Cycle to Work scheme. This scheme provides an exemption from benefit-in-kind (BIK) where an employer purchases a bicycle and associated safety equipment for an employee.

   Under section 118B TCA 1997 an employer and employee may also enter into a salary sacrifice arrangement under which the employee agrees to sacrifice part of his or her salary, in exchange for a bicycle and related safety equipment.

  Where a bicycle or safety equipment is purchased under the Cycle to Work scheme or through a salary sacrifice arrangement certain conditions must be met, for example:

  - The exemption applies to the first €1,250 of expenditure incurred by the employer in obtaining a bicycle and related safety equipment. This exemption limit is increased to €1,500 for pedelecs or ebikes and related safety equipment. Employers may incur costs in excess of these limits, but any such excess will not qualify for the exemption and will be liable to tax. A salary sacrifice arrangement is subject to the same monetary limits.

  - The bicycle and related safety equipment must be new and must be purchased by the employer.

  - The bicycle and related safety equipment must be used by the employee or director mainly for the whole or part of their journey to or from work.

  - An employee or director can only avail of the Cycle to Work scheme once in any 4 year period. A salary sacrifice arrangement is subject to the same time limits and any salary sacrifice arrangement entered into must be completed within a 12 month period.

  The Cycle to Work scheme is only applicable where the bicycle and safety equipment is provided by an employer to either a director or someone in its employment. Thus, where an employer-employee relationship does not exist, for example, in the case of self-employed individuals, students, retired individuals, job seekers or those in unpaid work, such individuals can’t qualify for the scheme. Likewise, salary sacrifice arrangements may only be entered into between an employer and a director or employee.

   Further guidance regarding the Cycle to Work scheme and salary sacrifice arrangements can be found on Revenue’s website.

Tax Data

 82. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the number of category A vehicles that were charged with the nitrogen dioxide emissions levy in 2020 and to date in 2021; the revenue raised each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17710/21]

 83. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the estimated revenue that would be raised if the current nitrogen dioxide levy was doubled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17712/21]

 84. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the estimated revenue that would be raised annually if the current nitrogen dioxide levy was applied to both category A and B vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17714/21]

 85. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the estimated revenue that would be raised annually if the current nitrogen dioxide levy was doubled and extended to both category A and B vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17716/21]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 82 to 85, inclusive, together.

  In relation to Question 17710/21, I am informed by Revenue that the number of category A vehicles that a Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions charge was applied to in 2020 and in January and February 2021 is provided in the table below.

Vehicle Type year No Revenue raised€ millions Total - new and used€ millions
New 2021* 33,403 4.82 8.15
Used 2021* 11,221 3.33  
New 2020 80,267 12.00 32.50
Used 2020 74,705 20.50  


  *January and February only.

  In relation to Question 17712/21, if the charge was doubled (to €10 on the first 40mg, €30 on the subsequent 40mg, and the remainder charged at €50 per mg, subject to a maximum charge of €9,700 on diesel vehicles and with all others incurring a maximum charge of €1,200), the yield is estimated to be in the region of €65 million based on 2020 vehicle sales and assuming no behavioural change arising from the increase.         

  Regarding Questions 17714/21 and 17716/21, I am informed by Revenue that based on 2020 sales figures for both category A and category B vehicles, the revenue that would be raised annually if the current NOx emissions charge was applied to both categories is estimated to be in the region of €60 million. If the NOx emissions charge was doubled, the estimated yield would be in the region of €120 million across both category A and B vehicles.

  This estimate assumes no behavioural change in response to the potential large increase in the overall Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) charge that would apply to category B vehicles, as a significant proportion would incur the maximum NOx charge of €4,850.

Insurance Industry

 86. Deputy Richard Bruton Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if his attention has been drawn to the fact that insurers have refused to provide flood risk cover even in situations in which no flooding has ever occurred; if his Department or the regulator has protocols in relation to transparency and proportionality in such situations; and if such cases fall within the remit of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman. [17789/21]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe AT the outset, it is important that I remind the Deputy of the fact that the provision of insurance is a commercial matter for insurance companies, which is based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept. Consequently, neither I nor the Central Bank of Ireland can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance (Solvency II Directive).   

  Having said that, I am conscious of the difficulties that the absence or withdrawal of flood insurance cover can cause to homeowners and businesses. Current government policy in relation to increasing flood insurance coverage is focused on the development of a sustainable, planned and risk-based approach to managing flooding problems. To achieve this aim there is a focus on:

  - Investing almost €1 billion in flood relief measures over the lifetime of the National Development Plan 2018-2027;

  - Implementation of flood relief management plans by the Office of Public Works (OPW), and;

  - Maintaining channels of communication between the OPW and the insurance industry, in order to reach a better understanding about the provision of flood cover in affected areas.

  The above approach is underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding between the OPW and industry representatives Insurance Ireland, who meet on a quarterly basis to help implement this initiative. This provides for the exchange of data in relation to completed flood defence schemes which should in turn provide a basis for the increased provision of flood insurance in these areas.

I acknowledge that while there has been an overall increase in the provision of flood insurance between 2015 and 2020, some householders are still experiencing difficulties. This is particularly the case for households in areas with demountable flood defences. Indeed, this is one of the key themes that arose from my Department’s Public Consultation on Climate Change and Insurance. My officials engage with both Insurance Ireland, the OPW and other stakeholders regarding flood defence schemes and how the levels of insurance cover might be improved in areas where flood defence works have been completed.   This is a difficult issue, however the Deputy should be assured that Minister of State Fleming and I will also continue to engage on all aspects of insurance reform, including flood insurance issues, and that every effort is being made to encourage a responsive approach from the insurance industry. As recent as last month Minister of State Fleming participated in a meeting between Insurance Ireland and OPW Minister of State Donovan on the issue.

  Furthermore, as the Deputy may be aware, the Central Bank of Ireland’s Consumer Protection Code states that a regulated entity must ensure that in all its dealings with customer it acts honestly, fairly and professionally in the best interests of its customers and the integrity of the market. In the event that an insurance undertaking refuses to quote a consumer for property insurance, the Consumer Protection Code states that an insurer must inform the consumer of its refusal and its reasons for refusing cover.

  Finally, individuals who feel they have been unfairly treated by an Insurance or Financial Services Provider can make a complaint to the Financial Services Ombudsman. I would also note that Insurance Ireland operates a free Insurance Information Service for those who have queries, complaints or difficulties in relation to obtaining insurance cover, including flood insurance. This can be accessed at: feedback@insuranceireland.eu.

EU Funding

 87. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if Ireland will be applying for loans under the EU recovery and resilience facility; if so, the amount that will be applied for; the potential interest rate and terms in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17795/21]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Recovery and Resilience Facility makes provision for lending by the European Commission to Member States.

  Member States must submit an application for a loan to the European Commission before 31 August 2023 (for approval by the European Commission prior to 31 December 2023). No information of the loan terms and conditions is available at this stage.

  Consideration of whether Ireland should seek to avail of the loan element will take place when the relevant information on loans becomes available from the European Commission.


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