Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Finance

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of Frank FeighanFrank Feighan (Sligo-Leitrim, Fine Gael)
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61. To ask the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the specific issues with the wage subsidy scheme and the attempts of a person (details supplied) to now reopen their businesses post Covid-19; if he will draw the attention of the Revenue Commissioners to the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5620/20]

Steven Matthews (Wicklow, Green Party)
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74. To ask the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to an issue that has arisen for some employers in accessing the temporary wage subsidy scheme in which employers that rehired staff previously let go after 1 May 2020 seem to be unable to qualify for a refund; if these employers will be refunded; and if so, the timeframe that businesses can expect for this. [5881/20]

Photo of Fergus O'DowdFergus O'Dowd (Louth, Fine Gael)
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77. To ask the Minister for Finance if a reply will issue to concerns raised in correspondence from a person (details supplied) in respect of possible problems in creating the necessary supports for businesses to restart operations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5897/20]

Photo of Dara CallearyDara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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108. To ask the Minister for Finance the reason employees rehired after 1 May 2020 will not be eligible for refunding under the wage subsidy scheme despite the reopening plan only being published at 7pm on 1 May 2020; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that employers could not have rehired prior to that due of the lack of knowledge prior to that time; his views on whether such a limitation will leave persons on the pandemic unemployment payment in spite of the wish to move persons from this payment to the wage subsidy scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6426/20]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 61, 74, 77 and 108 together.

The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) is provided for in section 28 of the recently enacted Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020. Of necessity, the legislation and the scheme itself were developed very quickly to support the urgent Government objective of getting much needed assistance to employers and employees that have been seriously affected by the pandemic.

The TWSS builds on data returned to Revenue through its real-time PAYE system. The changes to Revenue’s systems required to fully implement the TWSS have been delivered incrementally since the scheme commenced on 26 March 2020. The latest phase of the scheme implements the revised subsidy rates, as determined by me, in accordance with the legislation and is effective from 4 May 2020 for most employees. This phase is based on providing employers with details of the maximum personal subsidy amount to be paid to individual employees based on their previous average net weekly pay.    

Revenue advise me that it is aware of the difficulty for employers in accessing TWSS in respect of staff that were rehired after 1 May 2020 and has assured me that it is not related to ceasing employees from the scheme. The implementation of the latest phase of TWSS required a series of calculations to be performed for each employee that was on employers’ payrolls on 1 May 2020 in order to generate their personal wage subsidy entitlements. Employees who were rehired after 1 May 2020 could not be included in these initial calculations and consequently Revenue is temporarily unable to provide the necessary personalised wage subsidy entitlements information to employers in respect of these persons.  

I have been assured by Revenue that it is actively working on an IT systems development to facilitate access to TWSS for rehired employees. It is anticipated that the development will be implemented in the coming weeks and will be retrospective to the date of rehiring.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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62. To ask the Minister for Finance if, further to the Revenue Commissioners announcement of 24 April 2020 allowing access to temporary wage subsidy scheme for certain employers that missed 15 March 2020 payroll deadline, those businesses granted access to the scheme will be paid retrospectively in respect of wages paid in the intervening period of the scheme opening and their access to it. [5629/20]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) is an emergency measure to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy. The scheme builds on data returned to Revenue through its real-time PAYE system. It must be accepted that the underlying legislation and the scheme itself simply cannot be tailored to meet every individual unique set of circumstances for either employers or employees. The core principles of the scheme, as prescribed in the underlying law, are that the business is suffering significant negative economic impact due to the pandemic, that the employees were on the payroll on 29 February 2020 and that the employer had fulfilled its PAYE reporting obligations for February 2020 by, in general, 15 March 2020.  These requirements of the scheme were critical safeguards against abuse and exploitation of the scheme.  

I have been advised by Revenue that following a review of cases since the TWSS commenced, it became apparent that a number of employers had been unable to access the scheme because they failed the 15 March 2020 rule but had qualified under all other conditions of the scheme and are otherwise tax compliant. Given the overarching purpose and objective of the scheme, Revenue announced on 24 April, under its care and management provisions, to allow such employers access the scheme provided:

- the employees in respect of whom the wage subsidy is claimed were included on the employer’s payroll on 29 February 2020,

- the February 2020 payroll submissions were submitted to Revenue before 1 April 2020, and 

- the payroll submissions for all previous months were submitted to Revenue before 15 March 2020.

Where a business qualifies for the scheme under the revised criteria and makes the necessary declaration that it is significantly impacted by the crisis, the wage subsidies under the scheme will be payable for eligible employees in respect of payroll submissions made on or after 24 April 2020, with a pay date on or after 24 April 2020.  However, subsidies for the earlier period are not made retrospectively and there are no plans to alter this.

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