Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Finance

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of Jennifer WhitmoreJennifer Whitmore (Wicklow, Social Democrats)
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133. To ask the Minister for Finance if he will address the issue of late payroll submissions to the Revenue Commissioners by accountancy firms whose business was affected by Covid-19; if the Revenue Commissioners will extend deadlines for late submissions due to Covid-19 interruptions such as in a case (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6962/20]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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I am advised by Revenue that all cases which have applied for refunds under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) and which were rejected on the basis of failing to meet the eligibility criteria are reviewed by Revenue. 

The TWSS 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,

- the employees were on the payroll at 29 February 2020, and

- the employer had fulfilled its PAYE reporting obligations for February 2020 by 15 March 2020.

Accordingly, the TWSS can only operate in respect of an employee, whether full-time or part-time, who was on the payroll of the employer as at 29 February 2020.  Thus, where an employer has not met its statutory PAYE reporting obligations for February 2020 by 15 March 2020, then the employer is not eligible to participate in the scheme.  These requirements of the TWSS were critical safeguards against abuse and exploitation of the scheme. PAYE legislation requires employers to report their payroll to Revenue in real time as the payroll is run. 

Arising from the ongoing review of specific cases since the TWSS started, it became apparent to Revenue that a number of employers were 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 purpose of the scheme to maintain the link between the employee and employer, Revenue decided, under its care and management provisions, to allow such employers access to 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.

Having regard to any particular extenuating circumstances that may apply in a specific case, I am advised by Revenue that, having regard to the overall criteria as set out in my reply, Revenue is happy to engage with a business as to how those extenuating circumstances may be able to be addressed for the purposes of the TWSS.

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