Dáil Éireann - Volume 503 - 28 April, 1999

Written Answers. - Higher Education Grants.

126. Mr. Finucane asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will have investigations made into the case of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick who has been assessed for a reduced higher education grant due to the computation of VAT refunds calculated as reckonable income for grant purposes; his views on whether this is a justified computation in the assessment of a higher education grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11142/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): I understand from Limerick County Council that the candidate to whom the Deputy refers was assessed for a higher education grant and qualified for a part maintenance grant (50 per [1655] cent) on the basis of the reckonable income calculated by the local authority. However, the reckonable income inadvertently included a VAT refund made to the candidate's father as a flat rate farmer.

A flat rate farmer is a farmer who is not a taxable person for VAT purposes. Such a farmer, who has borne tax on the cost of the construction or improvement of farm buildings or on land rec[1656] lamation, may reclaim the tax in certain circumstances. The amount received as a VAT refund in such instances should not be included when calculating reckonable income for maintenance grant purposes.

My Department has advised the local authority on the correct assessment of reckonable income in this case and the local authority will re-assess the candidates application and advise him of the outcome shortly.