COVID-19 information and advice for taxpayers and agents

Compliance with certain reporting and filing obligations and the satisfaction of certain other tax related conditions

The following guidance will assist employers and employees experiencing difficulties arising from the impacts of COVID-19 regarding compliance with certain reporting and filing obligations and the satisfaction of certain other tax related conditions. In all cases where restrictions imposed by COVID-19 affect the applicability of Irish tax legislation on an employee/employer’s tax position, records should be maintained outlining the circumstances and should be available to Revenue on request.

Real-time foreign tax credit (FTC) for Restricted Stock Unit (RSU) cases

In respect of 2019 cases for whom real time foreign tax credits were provided through the payroll, the 31 March 2020 filling deadline will be suspended. In such circumstances, the 2019 income tax return for such employees will revert to the standard income tax filing date (31 October 2020) for that return or any extended filing deadline for that return as appropriate. The employer notification to Revenue in relation to such cases should be made as soon as possible but no later than the extended income tax filing date where applicable.

Share schemes filing obligations

The filing deadline for all 2019 share scheme returns is being extended from 31 March 2020 to 30 June 2020.

Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP)

The 90-day employer filing obligation, which is a requirement for an employee to be eligible to benefit from SARP relief, is extended for a further 60 days. It is anticipated that such an extension should provide sufficient time for employers to file the required return, but exceptional cases may be submitted to Revenue for consideration on a case by case basis. 

Trans-Border Workers Relief

If employees are required to work from home in the State due to COVID-19, such days spent working at home in the State will not preclude an individual from being entitled to claim this relief, provided all other conditions of the relief are met. 

PAYE Dispensation Applications

Given the unprecedented circumstances and the restrictions on travel as a consequence of COVID-19, Revenue will not strictly enforce the 30-day notification requirement for PAYE dispensations applicable to short term business travellers from countries with which Ireland has a double taxation treaty who are going to spend in excess of 60 workdays in the State in a tax year.

Foreign Employments - Operation of PAYE

Revenue will not seek to enforce Irish payroll obligations for foreign employers in genuine cases where an employee was working abroad for a foreign entity prior to COVID-19 but relocates temporarily to the State during the COVID-19 period and performs duties for his or her foreign employer while in the State.

PAYE Exclusion Order - Irish Contract of Employment

Regarding employees who are working abroad for a foreign employer under an Irish contract of employment where a PAYE exclusion order is in place, the position will not be adversely impacted where the employee works more than 30 days in the State due to COVID-19.

Residence rules - Force Majeure circumstances

Existing guidance states that where an individual is prevented from leaving the State on his or her intended day of departure due to extraordinary natural occurrences or an exceptional third party failure or action – none of which could reasonably have been foreseen and avoided – the individual will not be regarded as being present in the State for tax residence purposes for the day after the intended day of departure provided the individual is unavoidably present in the State on that day due only to ‘force majeure’ circumstances.  Where a departure from the State is prevented due to COVID-19, Revenue will consider this ‘force majeure’ for the purpose of establishing an individual’s tax residence position.

Benefit in Kind (BIK)

Tax treatment of reimbursements by an employer to an employee regarding holiday/flight cancellations or in relation to costs of assisting employees returning to the State

Provided the employee is integral to the business and was required to return to deal with issues related to the COVID-19 crisis by his or her employer, the costs incurred are reasonable and the employee is not otherwise compensated (i.e. via an insurance policy or direct claim to the service provider), a BIK will not arise. This may include costs related to family members who were on holiday or due to go on holidays with the employee. 

Employer provided equipment

A BIK will not arise where employers provide equipment such as laptops, printers, scanners and office furniture in order for employees to set up a working space in their homes.

Employer-Provided Vehicles

For the duration of the Covid-19 restrictions, where an employee is in receipt of a vehicle (car or van) provided by his or her employer, the following may apply:

(a) Employer Takes Back Possession of the Vehicle

Where an employer takes back possession of the vehicle and an employee has no access to the vehicle, no BIK shall apply for the period. 

(b) Employer Prohibits Use

Where an employee retains possession of a vehicle, but the employer prohibits the use of the vehicle, no BIK shall apply if the vehicle is not used for private use. Records should be maintained to show that the employer has prohibited its use and no such use has occurred, for example communication from employer, photographic evidence of odometer etc. 

(c) Employer Allows Private Use

Where an employee has a car provided by his or her employer and 

  • the circumstances in the previous example don’t apply
  • limited or reduced business mileage (if any) is undertaken during the period of the COVID-19 crisis
  • and
  • personal use is limited 

the amount of business mileage travelled in January 2020 may be used as a base month for the purposes of calculating the amount of BIK due.  Thus, the percentage applied in the calculation of the cash equivalent, which is based on annualised business mileage, may have regard to the actual business mileage for January 2020, for the period of the COVID-19 restrictions. Appropriate records should be kept, for example business mileage travelled in January, amount of private use, photographic evidence of odometer etc. 

Employee Continues Working

Where an employee continues to undertake business travel as usual in an employer-provided vehicle, the usual BIK rules will apply. Further information on the taxation of employer-provided vehicles is available in the Tax and Duty Manual Part 05-04-02, Benefit-in-Kind, Private use of Employer-Provided Vehicles.

e-Working and Tax

Payment of taxi fares

Where an employer pays for a taxi to transport an employee to or from work due to health and safety concerns, BIK will not apply for the duration of the COVID-19 period only.

Small Benefit Exemption

Section 112B of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, allows one voucher per year up to the value of €500 to be given to an employee by his or her employer tax free, provided certain conditions are satisfied. Where an employer wishes to recognise efforts of frontline or other key staff working during the COVID-19 crisis, either by accelerating part of a reward (voucher) usually paid later in the year, or making an additional voucher award, the requirement that only one voucher issues (as per s112B(1)(d)) is concessionally waived for the 2020 tax year, where the additional award is related to an employee’s exceptional efforts during the COVID-19 crisis.

This concession only applies to employees who continue to work during the restricted period. All other conditions of the section must be met, for example the maximum (cumulative) value may still not exceed €500 but, as stated above, the requirement to only issue one voucher will be waived. Appropriate documentation must be retained by an employer where this concession is availed of.

Renewal of existing Customs Special Procedure Authorisations

Authorisations due for renewal in March and April have been extended to 31May.

Next: Corporation Tax and presence in the State or outside the State resulting from COVID-related travel restrictions