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Donohoe, Paschal

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.

Financial Provisions (Covid-19) (No. 2) Bill 2020: Order for Second Stage

I move: "That Second Stage be taken now."More Button

Financial Provisions (Covid-19) (No. 2) Bill 2020: Second Stage

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."More Button

I am pleased to have the opportunity to introduce the Financial Provisions (Covid-19) (No. 2) Bill 2020 to the House this morning. This Bill provides the legislative basis to introduce the tax m...More Button

This plan contains a range of tax, loan and expenditure measures designed to directly support business at all levels of the economy that have been negatively impacted by this disease. The plan i...More Button

Today's debate is focused on the tax measures that will have a net cost of approximately €1 billion. The total value of the tax package is €1.4 billion but the amendments relating to corporate t...More Button

The Bill before the House today only runs to only 13 sections so I will briefly go through them individually. Section 1 is the standard definitions section common to Bills of this nature.More Button

Section 2 makes changes to the existing temporary wage subsidy scheme, TWSS, to include individuals who return to work after maternity and other types of leave, those on apprentice and training c...More Button

The section also provides for the employment wage subsidy scheme, which will replace the temporary wage subsidy scheme. It is being introduced as an enterprise support that gives a subsidy to qu...More Button

In this regard, given the importance of childcare to the reopening of the economy and also recognising the unique circumstances where the turnover of such businesses would be greater than 70% but...More Button

The level of subsidy the employer will receive is per paid employee. For every employee paid more than €203 gross per week, the level of subsidy is €203. For every employee paid between €151.50...More Button

Sections 3 to 5, inclusive, together provide a legislative basis for the tax "debt warehousing" scheme announced by the previous Government on 2 May. No interest will be charged on the tax debts...More Button

Section 6 will add a new interest provision in Chapter 5 of Part 47 of the Taxes Consolidation Act to reduce the interest rate applying to agreed repayments of all tax debt to approximately 3% pe...More Button

Financial Provisions (Covid-19) (No. 2) Bill 2020: Second Stage (Continued)

The measure will assist taxpayers who are in difficulty with tax payments. The purpose of this section is to provide support to taxpayers experiencing difficulty with their liabilities by reducing...More Button

Section 7 relates to the stay-and-spend incentive. This will incentivise taxpayers to support registered or accredited providers of accommodation, food or both during the off-season, thus provid...More Button

Section 8 amends the help-to-buy scheme to stimulate demand from first-time buyers for new homes in the housing market, to encourage house completions and to assist first-time buyers in accumulat...More Button

Section 9 provides for increases in the allowable expenditure under the cycle-to-work scheme. The allowable expenditure will be increased from €1,000 to €1,500 in respect of e-bikes and €1,250 i...More Button

Section 10 provides for a new once-off income tax relief measure that will benefit self-employed individuals who were profitable in 2019 but who, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, are loss-ma...More Button

Section 11 provides cash flow supports to previously profitable companies that are now experiencing losses as a result of public health measures. It allows companies to estimate their current-ye...More Button

Section 12 provides for the standard rate of VAT to be reduced on a temporary basis from 23% to 21% for the period from 1 September 2020 to 28 February 2021. It is estimated that this reduction ...More Button

Section 13 is another standard section. It relates to the Short Title of the Bill. There is no commencement provision and the Bill will become effective on enactment and signature by the Presid...More Button

This is a short Bill but it is a crucial element of the next phase of the Government's response to the Covid-19 crisis. It sets out the budgetary measures that will support jobs and our economy ...More Button

Financial Provisions (Covid-19) (No. 2) Bill 2020: Second Stage (Resumed) (Continued)

The Deputy should read the Bill.More Button

Financial Provisions (Covid-19) (No. 2) Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages

Will I make a comment on each section as we move through the Bill? I am happy to do so.More Button

Section 1 is a definitions section.More Button

I am glad I-----More Button

Financial Provisions (Covid-19) (No. 2) Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages (Continued)

With regard to Deputy Boyd Barrett's intervention, I was very willing to respond to the points raised on Second Stage. I was here for all of the Second Stage debate, as I should be when legislatio...More Button

Before I address some of the issues which have been raised with regard to the opening section of this Bill, I would like to make a statement to the House. I would be obliged if, in accordance wi...More Button

In responding to the issues raised in respect of this section, it is important to put these matters in context during this debate. Many issues have been raised with regard to the temporary wage su...More Button

I have heard much commentary from a number of Deputies this afternoon regarding my intentions or the intentions of the previous Government and I will deal with these remarks as I work through. I...More Button

Hundreds of thousands of our citizens did not know if they were going to have a job and, that being the case, how they would access a social welfare payment. As the Government, we had to put tog...More Button

I listened to Deputy Harkin's contribution on Second Stage. It was a very nuanced contribution about the merits of this Bill, which she was good enough to acknowledge, and the demerits she genui...More Button

When the previous Government was looking to throw an anchor into the seas we found ourselves in at that time, the conditions were stormy, nobody had a compass and the horizons were unclear.More Button

We did all that could be done in putting this scheme together. I feel the need to put this on the record of the House because of some of the contributions I heard this afternoon and the comments...More Button

In saying that, I will go back to where I began. In fairness to Deputy Pearse Doherty, he acknowledged, as I have done, that this plan has worked. The wage subsidy scheme has worked. The work ...More Button

I will deal with each of the points that were raised. I do not know if it is because the day is long or this has been a demanding term for Deputy Boyd Barrett, as it has been for others, but I t...More Button

I will address substantively the issues he raised. This is the very reason the Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin, only a week ago indicated that funding for the Arts Council will exceed €100 mil...More Button

In regard to the point Deputy Boyd Barrett made about taxi drivers, I can see the strain many taxi drivers are under at the moment. When I meet taxi drivers in my constituency of Dublin Central ...More Button

As for Deputy Mattie McGrath, his contribution was nasty, divisive and small-minded. No cause would be well served by him raising it in the way he did in this case. Deputy Nash's contribution w...More Button

-----on behalf of his constituents.More Button

I will keep going.More Button

Thank you very much, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. Yes, I referred to what Deputy Mattie McGrath said. If he is going to engage in the kind of debate he attempted to engage in earlier, he needs to be ...More Button

Deputy Nash made other points about the need to support the arts and culture sector, to which I listened carefully. We hope the plans from last week will have an impact, but as will be the case ...More Button

During that elapse of time, that passage of days, weeks, months or periods even longer than that, all I can commit to doing is trying and trying again with the resources available to me and with th...More Button

I refer to the issue raised by Deputy McNamara. Again, he acknowledged that some of the issues he was looking to raise would normally be dealt with outside of a finance Bill through social welfa...More Button

Deputy Murnane O'Connor raised the issue of taxi drivers. I echo my understanding of the issues the Deputy raised. On foot of the contributions made by her and by other Members this afternoon I...More Button

I thank Deputy Danny Healy-Rae for points he made. His contribution covered many artists, musicians and performers that mean a lot within his own county and constituency. I think it was the Dep...More Button

Financial Provisions (Covid-19) (No. 2) Bill 2020: Committee Stage (Resumed) and Remaining Stages (Continued)

I will deal with the issues raised by the Deputies. On Deputy Boyd Barrett's point about the need for a roadmap and the need for artists, especially performing artists, to be clear regarding what ...More Button

If Deputy Boyd Barrett was going to raise such a specific issue relating to an individual and a concert, some notice that he was going to do so would have been helpful. I might have been in a po...More Button

On his point about taxi drivers, I repeat what I said about my willingness to approach the National Transport Authority.More Button

We will debate the issues Deputy Doherty raised when I hope we get to his amendment.More Button

Again, Deputy Mattie McGrath referred to misleading people and blackguarding vintners and pub owners.More Button

At that particular point, the Government was trying to revise the public health guidance that was available to the country. We were trying to prioritise the public health of our country. Again, t...More Button

On the points made by Deputy Danny Healy-Rae, I understand the issue he raised about seasonal workers. The Deputy raised it with me previously and I appreciate its importance. Notwithstanding t...More Button

I compliment Deputy McNamara on the drafting of this amendment. It is a masterpiece of drafting and I am sure had to be read on many occasions by those souls who judge what is acceptable and not a...More Button

To speak to the substantial matter Deputy McNamara raises, the primary qualifying criterion for the employment wage subsidy scheme is that the employer must be able to demonstrate that the busine...More Button

I will be, but Deputies have raised an array of issues.More Button

I appreciate that. I thank the Deputies for the variety of matters they have raised. I will deal with each of them in turn.

  I will deal first with the amendment tabled by Dep...More Button

For some parts of our economy that will be a long journey; a journey some have not yet begun. That is why we are making changes to the temporary wage subsidy scheme and making it an economy-wide s...More Button

The issue raised by the Deputy on employer PRSI is an increasingly fair one and the programme for Government refers to the issue of PRSI contributions. This is not an issue for today, at a time in...More Button

Deputy Shortall also referred to the issue regarding the coding and reference of the employee wage subsidy scheme on employees' pay dockets. I will look at the issues raised by the Deputy and I ...More Button

The Deputy also referred to significant implementation difficulties. I am not aware of them. Perhaps the Deputy will clarify what they are. This scheme has been really well implemented, very q...More Button

Regarding the issues raised by Deputy Nash on collective bargaining, union representation and the rights of employees, I know they are important. As to why they are not included as qualifying c...More Button

To go back to a point made by Deputy Jim O'Callaghan on Second Stage earlier, the dialogue we need to have with employers in future will need to change in the post-pandemic era. As for this sche...More Button

I am convinced of the need for a scheme like this and for the principles of a scheme like this to be available to a Government quickly. If this had been in place in those early days when the pan...More Button

I never said I had the ability to bring in a different percentage contribution for which Deputy Doherty is calling. I simply made the point that I have the ability to vary some of the operation of...More Button

The Deputy referred to the term "sector".More Button

The term "sector" has been used in legislation, but it does not have any precedence in legislation such as this. We assessed this and found we could not access a term of sector that would have bee...More Button

In response to Deputy Boyd Barrett, I answered the question about conditionality that was put to me by Deputy Nash. I answered at some length outlining why I felt it would not be appropriate. D...More Button

I think those were all the questions that were put to me. More Button

I thank Deputy Boyd Barrett for his questions. I am not passing anything off. I am introducing an economy-wide scheme. What is implicit in bringing in an economy-wide scheme is that I am not at ...More Button

Even his own address on the issue highlighted the difficulty with this approach. He started off with one group in the country, artists, who do need support. He then went group by group through ...More Button

Before I come to the points Deputy Shortall made, I know some people who are very worried about their future are watching tonight's debate. I know many workers are concerned about where they wil...More Button

Deputy Shortall questioned whether this should be referenced on an employee's payslip. I think there are two reasons for doing so. First, employees should know the level of subsidy that is bein...More Button

The Deputy made a point about the assessment for mortgages and other loans. I reiterate that this must be done on a case-by-case basis. We have a shared interest in ensuring that mortgages are ...More Button

I am not aware of the issues she mentioned on behalf of the PSDA.More Button

As I have said, the scheme has been implemented really well by the Revenue Commissioners. The challenges we have had along the way have not been related to the system. That is due to the expertis...More Button

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.More Button

  Question proposed: "That section 2 stand part of the Bill."More Button

I want to be clear; this Bill will be implemented as passed by the House. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the reference to directors in the Bill that is causing concern is an import...More Button

  Sections 3 to 6, inclusive, agreed to.More Button

The Deputy's amendment seeks to restrict the hiring practices of employers who access the temporary wage subsidy scheme, the employment wage subsidy scheme or the special warehousing and interest p...More Button

These schemes are stand-alone measures to support employer viability through an unprecedented period and are based on clear and objective criteria that may be determined by the Revenue Commission...More Button

As I have said previously, the position in respect of the temporary wage subsidy scheme and the employment wage subsidy scheme does not affect any legal obligations the employer may have to his o...More Button

I am glad we have the opportunity to get to Deputy Nash's amendment because this matter has been dealt with, albeit in a different part of the Bill from that which the Deputy seeks to amend. More Button

Anything beyond the provision I have outlined would be expressly outside of the remit of the Revenue Commissioners. I note, however, that there is a sufficient number of bodies to deal with empl...More Button

Deputy Doherty knows I do not have that power.More Button

The order is fixed already.More Button

Help-To-Buy Scheme

Was asked: if existing help-to-buy approvals which have not been drawn down will be eligible for the expanded figure announced in the July stimulus package; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Help to Buy incentive (HTB) is a scheme to assist first-time purchasers with a deposit they need to buy or build a new house or apartment.  The incentive gives a refund on Income Tax and Deposi...More Button

Section 477C of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 outlines the definitions and conditions that apply to HTB.  A claimant under the scheme must make an application confirming that he or she meets v...More Button

The definition of “first-time purchaser” for the purposes of the scheme is an individual who, at the time of making a claim under the scheme, has not, either individually or jointly with any othe...More Button

HTB operates by way of a payment being made at deposit stage (following the signing of a contract to purchase) or, in the case of a self-build, following the drawdown of the first tranche of the ...More Button

The enhanced level of support announced last week will apply to applicants who, on or after 23 July 2020 (and up to 31 December 2020) sign a contract for the purchase of a new house or who make t...More Button

HTB has been widely publicised since its announcement in 2016, particularly by financial institutions providing mortgages. However, Revenue advise me that, if there are unique circumstances which...More Button

Tax Code

Was asked: the tax expenditures and the cost of each to the Exchequer in each of the years 2017 to 2019 and to date in 2020, in tabular form.More Button

My Department has provided a Tax Expenditures Report with each Budget since Budget 2016 (the Report on Tax Expenditures 2019 published on the day of Budget 2020 being the most recent).  It can be f...More Button

Covid-19 Pandemic

Was asked: if an explanation will be provided of the working document circulated by the EU Commission to the European Parliament of 27 May 2020 SWD(2020) 98 (details supplied) which identified the recovery ne...More Button

As the Deputy will be aware, on 21 July 2020, Heads of State and Government reached agreement on the Post-2020 MFF and recovery plan “Next Generation EU”, totalling €1.82 trillion. Difficult discus...More Button

Was asked: if there has been communication between his Department and the major financial institutions to advocate on behalf of customers in the final stages of draw down of their mortgage who have been infor...More Button

I fully appreciate the concerns you raise at this difficult time about people who are experiencing uncertainty about mortgage applications and drawdowns.  My Department is maintaining close contact...More Button

Freedom of Information

Was asked: the number of freedom of information requests being processed by his Department; the number that have had the deadline for reply extended; the number at least one week, two weeks. one month and ove...More Button

At the time of answering, there are 23 active Freedom of Information requests being processed in the Department of Finance.

  There are currently two requests which have exceede...More Button

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Was asked: the reason the rate of wage subsidy payment to an employee (details supplied) in County Kerry has been reduced; if the rate will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) was introduced on 26 March 2020 to provide income support to eligible employees where the employer’s business activities have been negatively impacted by th...More Button

The transitional phase of the scheme operated until 3 May 2020, while the necessary IT systems were being developed. This transitional phase provided a subsidy of 70% of the average net weekly pa...More Button

I am advised by Revenue that the person in question had two active employments in January and February 2020. One of these employments was ceased on 30 April 2020 and that employer did not avail o...More Button

The person’s current employer has received TWSS payments on her behalf since 15 April 2020. During the transitional phase of the scheme, i.e. for pay dates between 15 April and 3 May 2020, the em...More Button

Revenue has confirmed that for pay dates from 13 May 2020 to 24 June 2020 the employer paid €104.34 per fortnight (€52.17 per week), which is the maximum top-up amount payable under the scheme be...More Button

While employers are expected to make best efforts to maintain employees’ net income as close as possible to their ‘normal’ wage, there is no minimum amount that the employer must pay as an additi...More Button

Was asked: the income supports he plans to put in place for taxi drivers and arts, music, event and live entertainment workers in the July stimulus in view of the fact that these categories of workers will no...More Button

As the public health restrictions are eased, the challenge for the economy and enterprises is evolving. As recently announced in the July Jobs Initiative, the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) ...More Button

The EWSS will be an economy-wide scheme that will focus primarily on business eligibility, delivering a per-head subsidy on a flat rate basis. This adaptation from the TWSS will allow employers t...More Button

Details about the EWSS including how it will operate, how to apply and employer eligibility will be published shortly.More Button

In relation to other direct support measures, a recent publication by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation outlines the key financial supports and resources that are being made a...More Button  .More Button

Equality Proofing of Budgets

Was asked: the way in which the commitment to gender and equality proofing will be reflected in the October financial strategy and budget 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the way in which the public sector equality and human rights duty will be reflected in the October financial strategy and budget 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 129 and 130 together.

  The Government’s belief in the importance of gender and equality proofing remains an integral part of our overall commitm...More Button

Tax Data

Was asked: the number of PAYE taxpayers issued with a tax refund in each of the past five years; the value of refunds in each year; the measures he is taking to ensure that taxpayers avail of tax reliefs; and...More Button

Revenue has advised me that the number of PAYE taxpayers who received tax refunds in the last five years is set out in the table below. The figures for the most recent four years are subject to cha...More Button