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My Dáil Speech on the Finance Bill – 5th November 2013

I welcome the Bill. It is welcome that it is being dealt with in the same year as the budget. Many speakers will have contributed on specific issues and the Bill in general. However, I wish to raise a couple of key points which the Minister might take on board.

I welcome the home renovation incentive scheme. It is an issue on which I would have written to the Minister in July and I am delighted that such a measure is being taken on board. There are a few points in connection with section 5 on which I seek clarification. First, there is some concern about the scheme. I acknowledge the fact that the Minister has decided that it should take effect from the date of the budget. That is crucial for many small builders who are losing contracts. If an individual has a number of individual contractors doing the work and each is doing the work for less than the total of €5,675, will it be recovered cumulatively for the number of contractors involved or must the total for each contractor specifically be in excess of €5,675?

It is important that is said because people will decide to do the renovations themselves and to get their own builder, blocklayer and plasterer. While each one of those tradesmen might not reach the target figure individually it should be possible for the work to be accumulated and if the total is in excess of the amount stipulated then the work would be covered. I am concerned at the reference throughout the Bill to regulations. I prefer to have sight of the regulations before a Bill is enacted. In a number of cases it will be at the discretion of Revenue to decide whether a scheme is to its advantage. I plead with the Minister to ensure the regulations are as simple as possible because a scheme is more likely to be taken up if the procedures governing it are simple.

Will the Minister commit to having a review at the end of the year? The reason for the review would be to examine whether the purpose of the scheme has been achieved. The two parameters on which a scheme should be judged is, first, whether it has led to an increase in employment among small builders and, second, that we are tackling the black market. If there has been a failure to achieve success in those two areas then perhaps the Minister would consider raising the level at which the VAT return is given back. He could consider raising it as high as 25% of the overall cost. That type of incentive might discourage those in the black market from competing against the people we are trying to support.

The second issue relates to one I tabled as a parliamentary question. It concerns the fact that an individual must go to a doctor to get referred to a physiotherapist before he or she could make a claim for medical expenses for tax purposes. Physiotherapists would prefer that individuals could go directly to them and that the tax would be allowable to the individual. Currently, that is not the case. In the response to the parliamentary question it was indicated that the Minister would examine the issue in the Finance (No. 2) Bill 2013. Could the Minister take that point on board?

I welcome what the Minister said about the one-parent family tax credit where the main carer might not be in work in which case the credit would be lost. I welcome the fact that the credit will now be given to the earner if he or she is not the main carer.

My final point relates to sport. There is the potential for a sports drain as a result of what the EU legislation has forced upon us. The provision in section 15 could be tweaked. I merely make the suggestion that the relevant years could be extended to 12 rather than ten. I do not wish to force anyone to stay at home but it might discourage our sports stars from going overseas. The purpose of the section was to keep as many as possible of our sporting heroes within the country. I would welcome if the provision could be examined and tweaked as it might help the situation. I wish the Minister to take on board those points. I will write to him about them. Most speakers will refer to the Bill in general but I wished to focus on those four points which I hope the Minister will take on board.