Revenue publishes 2020 Annual Report
Today (28/04/2021), Revenue announced the publication of its Annual Report for 2020.
The report reflects an unprecedented year for Revenue. Notwithstanding the challenges and impacts presented by a global pandemic, Revenue continued its critical work of collecting taxes and duties which underpin the Government’s ability to fund and support vital public services. Revenue also played a central role in the delivery of key business supports as part of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in Brexit preparations for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on 31 December 2020.
Alongside the 2020 Annual Report, Revenue has also published a number of other reports today, including:
Commenting on today’s publications Revenue Chairman, Niall Cody, said it is against the backdrop of continued disruption and uncertainty arising from the COVID-19 pandemic that Revenue publishes its 2020 Annual Report. He noted that:
'The pandemic presented and continues to present significant challenges for the economy, businesses, workers and for Revenue as a tax and customs administration. As an organisation, the resilience, agility and innovation of our people enabled us to meet the challenges that unfolded during 2020. We continued to deliver our core business, collecting gross receipts of over €82 billion, including over €15 billion on behalf of other Government Departments and Agencies. Net Exchequer receipts were €56 billion, a decrease of 3.6% or €2.1 billion on 2019. Strong voluntary tax compliance levels were sustained with only a relatively marginal reduction on 2019. This reflects the positive engagement by businesses, individuals and tax practitioners throughout 2020, despite the challenges the country faced.'
Commenting on Revenue’s contribution to the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Cody said:
'Since March of last year, Revenue played, and continues to play, a central role in the delivery of critical Government supports to businesses, impacted by the pandemic, that help to protect lives and livelihoods and mitigate damage to the national economy. We developed and delivered these key business support schemes at significant speed, often within days of being announced, re-engineering our systems that are primarily designed to collect tax to pay money out to impacted businesses.
In addition to the detail set out in our Annual Report, today we are also publishing a report that gives a detailed statistical overview of the COVID supports we have administered for the last year. The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme provided more than €2.8 billion in support to 66,600 employers in respect of over 664,500 employees between 26 March and 31 August 2020. Its replacement, the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, had paid out over € 2.6 billion to over 48,400 eligible employers in respect of 546,300 employees to the end of quarter 1 of 2021. Additionally, €437 million in employer PRSI was forgone due to the reduced rate of PRSI on wages paid.
A total of €423 million in CRSS payments had been paid to 21,800 businesses in respect of 24,100 business premises up to the end of quarter 1 of 2021 while €2.3 billion of tax debt was ‘warehoused’ for over 80,000 businesses.
In relation to debt warehousing, it is important for businesses to keep filing their returns to continue to qualify for warehousing. And while there has been some commentary about the scheme no longer being available, I would like to assure businesses, that are still restricted from trading normally, that the debt warehousing scheme continues to be available to them. For businesses that have filed returns and have their debt properly warehoused, we will advise them individually of when their warehousing period ends. It is important to note that once this period ends a zero-interest rate applies to the debt for a year with a 3% rate applicable thereafter. I also want to reassure businesses that once that initial year is over, we will take an individually tailored approach to debt settlement that will support viable businesses recover from the negative economic impact of the pandemic.'
Despite the challenges of COVID -19 Revenue continued its preparations for Brexit on all fronts throughout 2020. Commenting on Revenue’s continued focus on helping businesses in respect of Brexit, Revenue Commissioner and Director-General of Customs, Gerry Harrahill, said:
'We are now four months on from when the UK withdrawal from the EU took full effect. As a direct consequence of this, the trading environment between Ireland and Great Britain has changed irrevocably. Now regarded as a 3rd country for trade purposes, customs formalities and other regulatory requirements apply to goods moving to, from and through Great Britain. This brought an end to the seamless trade we have known for years. We recognise that the significant and permanent change in the trading arrangements with Great Britain represents the biggest change for trade and business in almost 30 years, since the creation of the EU Single Market.
Throughout 2020, we undertook a range of initiatives and engagements to assist trade and business in understanding the changes that Brexit would bring and in making the necessary arrangements to be able to cope with those changes. Our Customs RoRo Service optimises the efficient movement and, where necessary, control of goods and vehicles when moved by ferry between Ireland and Great Britain. We worked to ensure our own operational readiness, recruiting and training additional staff to carry out Brexit related roles, completing significant work to increase our IT systems’ capacity to cater for the consequential increase in customs declarations arising as a result of Brexit and establishing a 24/7 Customs helpline to assist with queries from trade and business on customs clearance and import and export controls.
In time, dealing with the customs and other regulatory formalities that now apply to goods moving to, from or through Great Britain will become routine for importers, transport operators and truck drivers. We are continuing to support trade and business in adapting to these new formalities and resolving specific individual difficulties.'
Other key features of Revenue’s performance in 2020
In addition to delivering critical Government supports to businesses during 2020, other key features of Revenue’s performance included:
- continued enhancement of online and digital services to enable taxpayers and tax agents to self-serve to the greatest extent possible, including a ‘track my query’ function in MyEnquiries, a new mobile App, Revenue Receipts Tracker, and a new online Statement of Affairs (Probate) Form SA.2., designed and delivered in collaboration with the Courts Service
- processing 68% more taxpayer queries, submitted via MyEnquiries, when compared to 2019, with 72% of all enquiries completed within 5 days
- completing over 595,100 compliance interventions, yielding €487 million in tax interest and penalties
- agreeing tax settlements amounting to €51.4 million with 109 taxpayers who were published as tax defaulters
- continued action against fiscal fraud and smuggling evidenced by the seizure of illegal drugs valued at €45 million and illicit tobacco products valued at over €37 million.
Commenting on Revenue’s overall performance in 2020, Revenue Commissioner, Michael Gladney, said:
'Successfully dealing with the challenges that unfolded during the year was made possible by our people. We delivered critical Government supports and delivered very strong performance across all our work programmes despite the fact that, almost overnight, we needed to adjust to a largely remote working environment. In addition to delivering our core business, many of our staff worked on other aspects of the national COVID-19 response outside of Revenue’s direct remit, including supporting the HSE’s contact tracing programme. We are enormously proud of how all of our people responded to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.'
Looking towards the future, Mr. Cody said that the collection of taxes and duties remains Revenue’s primary function. He noted that:
'Our Statement of Strategy 2021 - 2023 sets out a clear focus on our goals and priorities for the next three years, even against the backdrop of the continued business and economic uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, we will continue to administer and oversee the business support schemes and other provisions introduced by the Government in response to COVID-19. We will maintain our focus on continuing to refine our model of service for compliance and maximising timely compliance by further enhancing our real-time engagement and response to risk.
We will also continue to support the Department of Finance in relation to the rapidly evolving and complex international tax agenda.
Finally, the safety and wellbeing of our staff and their families will remain our priority. Our continued success in delivering on our key objectives and goals, and in the part we continue to play in supporting the delivery of critical supports to businesses impacted by the pandemic, is all down to the dedication, flexibility and determination of our people. On behalf of the Revenue Board I thank each one of them for their steadfast commitment, professionalism and resourcefulness.'