Tuesday, 8 February 2022
Department of Finance
Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
242. To ask the Minister for Finance if clarification will be provided in relation to an email sent to a children’s playcentre (details supplied) on 23 December 2021 regarding eligibility for the Covid restrictions support scheme; if clarification will be issued to the Revenue Commissioners in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5935/22]
The Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) was introduced by Section 11 of the Finance Act 2020. The scheme is a targeted support for businesses significantly impacted by restrictions introduced by the Government under public health regulations to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The scheme is available to companies, self-employed individuals and partnerships who carry on a trade or trading activities, the profits of which are chargeable to tax under Case 1 of Schedule D, from a business premises that is subject to restrictions, set out in the relevant legislation, that prohibit or considerably restrict customer access.
From 20 December 2021, the Government introduced certain restrictive measures for businesses within the hospitality and indoor entertainment sectors. As part of these measures, an 8pm closing time has been imposed from 20 December 2021 to 22 January 2022. Businesses operating within these sectors, who would ordinarily operate evening and night-time trading hours, were considered to be significantly restricted from operating for the purposes of the CRSS and were eligible for support under the scheme where they meet the eligibility conditions. The Government also agreed that the turnover reduction criteria will be increased from no more that 25% of 2019 turnover to no more that 40% of 2019 turnover. Revenue has published revised CRSS guidelines, on its website reflecting the latest Government decisions.
It is not sufficient that the trade of a business has been impacted because of a reduction in customer demand as a consequence of Covid-19, or by public health guidance generally in force. The scheme only applies where, as a direct result of the specific terms of the Government restrictions, the business is required to either prohibit or significantly restrict access to its business premises.
The legislation provides businesses with the entitlement to appeal Revenue’s decision on CRSS eligibility to the independent Tax Appeals Commission (TAC), where they dispute the interpretation applied. If a business wishes to appeal Revenue’s decision that it is not entitled to the CRSS, it should do so within 30 days of the refusal notification.
The CRSS is just one of the Government supports to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19. Businesses not falling within the scope of the CRSS may be entitled to support under other measures put in place by Government, including the COVID Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS). EWSS is an economy-wide scheme that operates across all sectors.
As the Deputy may be aware, as announced on 9 December, it was decided that the enhanced rates of support which were due to end on 30 November 2021 would be extended for a further two months until end-January 2022. On 21 December, it was decided on foot of the restrictions I have outlined above, that the EWSS would reopen for certain businesses who would otherwise not be eligible for the support. Businesses that previously registered for EWSS and received a payment in compliance with the scheme have the opportunity to re-qualify for the scheme where they meet certain conditions. Broadly, the business must experience a 30% reduction in turnover, or customer orders during a particular reference period and have tax clearance.
It is my intention that the legislative aspects associated with the revised arrangements for CRSS and EWSS, outlined above, will be addressed by primary legislation in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the Revenue Commissioners are operating the revised arrangements on an administrative basis pending the legislation.
The correspondence referred to in the details supplied by the Deputy is noted. As the Deputy is aware the Revenue Commissioners are responsible for administering CRSS in accordance with the relevant legislation. Each application is assessed on its own merits having regard to the facts of the individual case and relevant legislation.