Dáil Éireann - Volume 678 - 12 March, 2009
Written Answers. - Departmental Expenditure.
Deputy Richard Bruton Deputy Richard Bruton
 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost of all tax expenditures, broken down by sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10735/09]
Deputy Brian Lenihan Deputy Brian Lenihan
Deputy Brian Lenihan: I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the total identifiable costs to the Exchequer of all income tax and corporation tax allowances, reliefs, exemptions and tax credits available, are set out in the following tables for 2004 and 2005, the most recent year for which the necessary historical information is available in the required detail. Relevant notes relating to items in the tables are also included.
These estimates of cost are not compiled by reference to sectors.
COST OF TAX CREDITS, ALLOWANCES AND RELIEFS 2005 AND 2004
The following table IT 6 shows the estimated cost in terms of revenue forgone of the personal tax credits and the main reliefs and deductions allowable under the income tax system. A number of reliefs which apply both to individuals and companies is also included and the cost shown in relation to these reliefs covers income tax and corporation tax.
An adjustment is included in the cost figures applying to income tax to compensate for incomplete numbers of tax returns on record at the time of compiling the estimates.
The tax credits and reliefs listed in the table serve varying purposes. Many are essentially structural reliefs through which individual tax liabilities are adjusted to reflect relative taxable capacity. The main personal tax credits are a good example of this since they may be regarded as part of the progressive income tax structure representing a band of income chargeable at a zero rate. Others, such as relief for interest paid in full or investment in corporate trades, are tax-based incentives in favour of specific groups or activities which are designed to promote certain aspects of public policy.
In computing taxable profits, account needs to be taken in some way of the depreciation of capital assets incurred in earning those profits. To this extent, the figures in the table of the “costs” of capital allowances should not be regarded as measuring a “loss of tax revenue” on profits. To compute such “loss”, regard would have to be had to the excess of the amount of the capital allowances at current rates over the amount of the normal allowances.
The figures shown for the basic personal tax credits (married, single and widowed) are the costs of these tax credits as if all other tax credits and the exemption limits did not apply. They do not include individuals who are not on Revenue records because their incomes are below the income tax thresholds. The cost figures for the exemption limits are based on the excess of the exemption limits over the basic personal tax credits.
The figures of cost are for 2005 and 2004 and all figures are based on tax due in respect of assessments for each year and not on tax receipts within that year.
The figure against each credit or allowance represents the additional tax which would become payable if the tax credit or allowance were withdrawn assuming no consequent change in the behaviour of taxpayers (for example, in relation to the reliefs for savings), or the amounts of payments (for example, interest payable on certain savings schemes might need adjustment to take account of the new tax liability).
 The numbers of claimants of each credit or relief are shown for both years to the extent that they are available. The numbers included are the taxpayers who would be adversely affected by the withdrawal of the respective credit or relief.
In the calculations, each tax credit or allowance has been dealt with separately and on the assumption that the rest of the tax system remained unchanged. It would be therefore inaccurate to calculate the effect of withdrawing all the credits, reliefs and allowances by simply totalling the figures. For example, the costs shown for capital allowances and stock relief are also calculated on the basis of separate withdrawal of these reliefs. Their combined cost would be greater than the sum of the separate costs because allowances are not always fully set off against available profits. For instance, a person with €1,000 gross trading profits, €1,000 capital allowances and €1,000 stock relief would pay no tax if either of the reliefs were withdrawn but would pay tax on €1,000 profits if both reliefs were withdrawn. In this case, the cost of each relief separately is nil but the combined cost is tax on €1,000. Basic data is not available to enable an estimate of the combined cost of these reliefs to be made.
The figures for estimates based on tax returns have been grossed up to an overall expected level to adjust for incompleteness in the numbers of returns on record at the time the data was extracted for analytical purposes.
Finally, the estimates shown in many cases are tentative and are subject to revision in the light of later information. Some of the cost figures included in the table for 2004 reflect revisions to figures previously published in the 2006 Report.
NOTES ON TABLE IT 6
(1) Figures accompanied by an asterisk * are particularly tentative and subject to a considerable margin of error.
(2) The cost figures for the exemption limits are based on the excess of the exemption limits over the basic personal tax credits. They include the cost of marginal relief for taxpayers whose incomes are not greatly in excess of the exemption limits.
(3) The figures shown for the basic personal tax credits (married, single and widowed) are the costs of these tax credits as if all other tax credits and the exemption limits did not apply. They do not include individuals who are not on Revenue records because their incomes are below the income tax thresholds.
(4) Arising from the change over to Tax Relief at Source the figures relate to the number of policies issued. These include policies where subscriptions were paid by businesses on behalf of their employees.
(5) Part of the cost of contributions to Permanent Health Benefit Schemes is not identifiable as a result of the move to a “net pay” basis for contributions by PAYE taxpayers from 6 April 2001.
(6) See the following table “Green Paper on Pensions” for background commentary and cost figures for 2006.
(7) Arising from the work on the “Green Paper on Pensions” (2007) the basis for costing this item has been changed for 2005 and is not directly comparable with the figures  for earlier years. See also the following table “Green Paper on Pensions” for more recent figures.
(8) The figures shown for Personal Retirement Savings Accounts for 2004 are derived from personal tax returns and are understated because they do not include contributions made by employers or by employees through their employers. See 2005 and the following table “Green Paper on Pensions” for more complete figures.
(9) “Other” relates to borrowings for purposes such as acquiring an interest in a company or partnership or to pay death duties.
(10) The cost of exempting the income of charities, colleges, hospitals, schools, friendly societies, etc. from income tax includes the sums repaid in respect of tax credits and income tax deducted at source (certain dividends, other investment income and payments received under covenant), donations made by the PAYE sector to approved bodies but does not include income tax relief in respect of donations made by the self-employed. It also includes the cost of exempting certain bodies from the deduction on income arising from government securities. Information is not available about other income received gross.
(11) The cost figures for relief for donations to Approved Sports Bodies and for certain Sports Persons are based on self assessment returns.
(12) In the absence of other information, tax has been assumed at the standard rate of income tax even though a different rate might be appropriate in many cases.
(13) The costs included for corporation tax are by reference to accounting periods which ended in the years 2004 and 2005.
(14) The cost shown for capital allowances does not include any cost associated with “unused capital allowances”, that is, capital allowances which are not absorbed by a company in the accounting period in which they arise because they exceed the amount of the company’s profits of that accounting period which are available for offset. Unused capital allowances can be offset as losses against taxable profits arising in the previous accounting period and against certain profits arising in future accounting periods and can be offset against the profits of another company in the same group of companies. It is estimated that €3500 million of unused capital allowances were claimed in respect of 2005 accounting periods but as the proportion of this item which is included in previous years losses and in group relief is not separately identifiable a reliable estimate of the cost of the capital allowance element cannot be provided.
(15) The tax cost shown for section 23 type relief is the estimated ultimate tax cost relating to the total allowable expenditure in respect of claims made in 2004 and 2005 tax returns for the first time. The cost shown is for income tax cases only.
(16) The cost does not include any notional cost associated with IFSC companies. The International Financial Services activity in Ireland represents new business which has developed as a result of, among other things, the concessionary tax rate. This means that as the cost of the concessionary rate is not just the difference between the concessionary tax rate and the full tax rate, it is therefore not quantifiable. In regard to the cost shown for the effective rate of 10 per cent for manufacturing and certain other  activities, no account is taken of the fact that without these incentives, many enterprises may not have set up here. To the extent that profits earned by such enterprises would not have been available for Irish tax purposes, part of the cost figure shown might be regarded as notional.
(17) The cost shown for R&D is for claims for R&D on corporation tax returns for accounting periods ending in 2005. However, the cost includes the cost associated with claims where the company was entitled to the credit but was unable to absorb it in that accounting year.
Green Paper on Pensions — updated estimates of cost for 2006
As part of the work on the Green Paper on Pensions, a review was carried out of the current regime of incentives for supplementary pension provision with a view to developing more comprehensive and reliable estimates of the cost of reliefs in this area. The review examined, among other things, the current reliefs and incentives for investment in supplementary pensions and the data available on which to base reliable estimates of the costs in revenue foregone to the Exchequer.
The review drew on newly available 2006 aggregate data on contributions to pension schemes by employers and employees arising from a P35 initiative introduced on foot of provisions that were included in Finance Act 2004 with a view to improving data quality. Arising from the review, estimates of the cost of tax for private pension provision for 2006 have been made. Further work required to provide similar estimates for 2005 has now been completed and estimates of cost for that year are included in the main TABLE IT6. As similar data sources would not be available for previous years, it is not possible to provide costings on a similar basis for those years.
 The breakdown and make-up of these estimated costs of reliefs differ from presentations of costs in this area for previous years in a number of respects and are not directly comparable. For further details on the cost of tax and other reliefs and the changes in the methodology, refer to pages 106 and 107 of the Green Paper on Pensions which is available at www.pensionsgreenpaper.ie.
Certain property-based tax incentives and incomes exempt from tax — uptake and estimated potential cost to the Exchequer in terms of income tax and corporation tax forgone based on 2005 tax returns
Provisions were included in the Finance Acts of 2003 and 2004 to enable new statistical data on the uptake of tax relief for certain property-based tax incentives and incomes exempt from tax to be obtained from tax returns. This information, derived from changes introduced by the Revenue Commissioners to income tax returns and corporation tax returns for 2005, is set out in the following table.
The figures shown include the amounts claimed in the year but exclude amounts carried forward into the year either as losses or capital allowances, and include any amounts of unused losses and/or capital allowances which will be carried forward to subsequent years.
The figures shown relate to the various reliefs/incentives and exemptions as specified in the 2005 form 11 and CT1.
There were concerns that in some instances the new, separately categorised data on property incentives may not have been correctly entered on the Tax returns. Revenue drew the attention of the relevant tax practitioner bodies to these deficiencies to rectify them in future returns and also increased awareness among its own staff involved in processing tax returns of the need to ensure, through closer examination of the returns, that they are correctly completed.
The estimated costs have assumed tax foregone at the 42% rate in the case of income tax and 12.5% in the case of corporation tax. This means the figures shown correspond to the maximum Exchequer cost in terms of income tax and corporation tax. However, the actual Exchequer cost could be lower, particularly in relation to the exempt income items, as the income could be subject to deductions for allowable expenses and other costs thereby reducing the level of income that would be actually subject to tax.
Some of the costs shown above are included in the costs shown for capital allowances and section 23 relief in Table IT6. For example, exempt income included above is not part of capital allowances.
RELIEFS IN RESPECT OF WHICH COSTS ARE NOT CURRENTLY QUANTIFIABLE OR ARE NEGLIGIBLE OR ARE NOT IDENTIFIABLE WITHIN TOTAL AGGREGATES.
Exemption in respect of certain income derived from the leasing of farm land;
Relief for new shares purchased on issue by employees;
Relief from averaging of farm profits;
Exemption for income arising from payments in respect of personal injuries;
Exemption of certain payments made by Hemophilia HIV Trust;
Exemption of lump sum retirement payments;
Relief for allowable motor expenses;
Tapering relief allowable for taxation of car benefits in kind;
Reduced tax rate of 10% for authorised unit trust schemes;
Reduced tax rate of 10% for special investment schemes;
Exemption of certain grants made by Údarás na Gaeltachta;
Relief for investment income reserved for policy holders in life assurance companies;
Relief for various business related expenses such as staff recruitment, rent, legal fees, and other general expenses;
 Exemption in certain circumstances on the interest on quoted bearer Eurobonds;
Exemption of payments made as compensation for loss of office;
Exemption of scholarship income;
Exemption for income received under Sceim na bhFoghlaimeoiri Gaeilge.
Dáil Éireann 678 Written Answers. Departmental Expenditure.