Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
212. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Finance if the Revenue Commissioners have identified potential abuses of SSIA’s where there may be breaches of the declaration of the participation on commencement of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39324/06]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Cowen): I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the SSIA scheme commenced in May 2001 and in excess of 1 million SSIA’s were opened by the closing date of 30th April 2002. The scheme itself is administered by the financial institutions under the guidance of the Revenue Commissioners.
Comprehensive guidelines, setting out the manner in which the scheme must be administered, were drawn up by Revenue, in consultation with the financial institutions at the commencement of the scheme. This is supported by compliance visits undertaken by Revenue each year to the financial institutions to ensure the terms of the guidelines are being fully implemented. Ongoing guidance is being provided by means of SSIA Updates. Apart from that the financial institutions are obliged to report to Revenue any case where it is suspected that the rules of the scheme are being breached.
On commencement of the scheme, each account holder was obliged to sign a declaration confirming their eligibility to participate in the scheme and that they would abide by the terms of the scheme for its duration. These terms include:
In addition, before an SSIA can be matured, the account holder has to sign a further declaration confirming compliance with the rules of the scheme, including those relating to residency, for its duration.
Apart from cases reported by the financial institutions to Revenue in accordance with the requirement to do so, Revenue has extensive control systems in place to monitor the scheme and identify any potential abuses. Where an apparent breach of the rules is identified, Revenue fully investigates each case and takes appropriate action. I am advised by Revenue that, considering the number of accounts in operation, the number of actual abuses is very small and have been appropriately dealt with.
213. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Finance the number of SSIA’s that were opened under the scheme; the number that have matured or due to mature; the number that were cancelled or failed to mature; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39325/06]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Cowen): The SSIA scheme opened on 1 May 2001 and entry to the scheme closed on 30 April 2002. A total of 1,170,208 SSIAs were opened during this period. 86,569 SSIAs were ceased in the period 30 April 2002 to 31 December 2005. These SSIAs were ceased either by the individual themselves or by Revenue for breaches of SSIA rules. The vast majority of SSIAs were ceased by individuals that no longer wished to partake in the scheme.
The number of SSIAs that are scheduled to mature in the period May 2006 to April 2007 is 1,083,639. The total number of SSIAs that have matured to date is 285,584, which is approximately 26.4% of all SSIAs scheduled to mature.
The maturing of SSIAs commenced on 31 May 2006 and the vast majority of SSIA holders are returning the SSIA maturity declaration on time. The compliance level is in excess of 99.5%. While it is not possible at this stage to quantify definitively the number of SSIAs that have failed to mature (as distinct from accounts that have been ceased by the account holders), information from the financial institutions that manage the scheme is that the numbers involved are extremely low.
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