Revenue reminds businesses of key supports available as the economy continues to reopen
The Finance (Covid-19 and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2021 makes provision for a range of supports to employers and certain businesses as the economy continues its recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. The provisions include the extension of the Covid Restriction Support Scheme (CRSS), the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and the Debt Warehousing Scheme.
Today (27/7/2021), against the backdrop of the reopening of indoor hospitality, Revenue reminded businesses of the significant supports available to assist them with reopening costs and payroll costs. Revenue also reminded businesses that the extension of the Debt Warehousing Scheme means that they can add eligible tax debt to the debt warehouse until 31 December 2021.
Covid Restriction Support Scheme (CRSS)
The Act provides that businesses who may reopen in line with the public health regulations can make a claim for an enhanced restart payment under CRSS.
Eligible businesses resuming trading activities, such as those in the indoor hospitality sector who were permitted to reopen from yesterday, can claim this enhanced restart payment to assist them with the additional costs of reopening. The enhanced restart payment provides a single payment in respect of a 3-week period, with the weekly entitlement calculated at double the normal weekly CRSS rate. The maximum amount that may be claimed in respect of each of the weeks covered by the enhanced restart payment has been increased from €5,000 to €10,000 (total maximum payment is therefore €30,000). Once a business makes a claim for the enhanced restart payment, it no longer qualifies for CRSS.
Revenue understands that some businesses providing indoor hospitality, such as pubs, cafes and restaurants, may not reopen immediately for a variety of reasons. However, these businesses should be aware that to qualify for the enhanced restart payment, they should resume trading activities within a reasonable period of time from the date on which the restrictions are eased and no later than eight weeks from that date.
Additionally, as such businesses are no longer regarded as being significantly restricted by public health regulations from 26 July 2021, they will no longer meet the eligibility criteria for the CRSS and will therefore not be eligible for CRSS payments for the periods where they choose to remain closed.
Some businesses that are still required to prohibit access to their premises or are required to remain fully closed e.g. nightclubs, casinos, etc., will continue to qualify for CRSS provided all other eligibility conditions are met. They can, therefore, continue to claim payment under the scheme.
Detailed information on the CRSS, including in relation to claiming the restart payments, can be found on the Revenue website.
Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS)
Earlier this month, Revenue provided important information for employers and their tax agents regarding the continued operation of the EWSS until 31 December 2021.
The extension of the scheme provides for a significant change in the assessment period used to determine eligibility for pay dates between 1 July and 31 December 2021. For most businesses, eligibility will be determined by comparing the turnover or level of customer orders of the business for the year 2021 with the turnover or level of customer orders of the business for the year 2019.
Many businesses were fully closed or severely limited in their capacity to trade due to the public health restrictions in place for the first seven months of 2021.The change in the EWSS assessment period means that such businesses, taking account of the limited, if any, turnover in 2021 to date, can generate the equivalent of up to 70% of their 2019 turnover or customer orders for the remainder of 2021 and still remain eligible to claim support under the scheme.
With this in mind, Revenue is reminding businesses who are resuming trading activities and who may not have been able to retain some or all their employees while public health restrictions were in place to check their eligibility for the scheme. In general, businesses that have tax clearance and meet the reduction in turnover/customer orders criteria are able to register and apply for support under the scheme.
EWSS - monthly review to check eligibility
As the economy continues its phased reopening, businesses are starting to trade again, in some instances for the first time this year. Revenue recently reminded employers and their tax agents that a key requirement since the introduction of the EWSS in September 2020 is that employers undertake a review on the last day of every month to ensure they continue to meet the eligibility criteria. This requirement is set out in Section 28B(5) of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020.
If, arising from the monthly eligibility review, the employer no longer meets the eligibility criteria, then the business must immediately de-register from the scheme and cease claiming subsidy payments.
To assist employers in meeting their monthly eligibility review requirement, Revenue has provided an EWSS Eligibility Review Form in ROS. The form will bring greater clarity and certainty around the question of eligibility. It is completed by entering data, that should be readily available to employers from their financial records, into a series of fields on an online screen. Once these fields have been updated by the employer for June’s monthly review, they are automatically pre-filled each month thereafter with only minimal data entry required from then on.
Today, Revenue confirmed it has extended the deadline for the completion and submission of the EWSS Eligibility Review Form in respect of June 2021 to 15 August 2021. The eligibility review form in respect of July 2021 is also due to be submitted on the same date.
Timely submission of the form is required to ensure continued access to the scheme and will provide assurance to both employers and Revenue that subsequent EWSS claims are appropriate and in line with the terms of the scheme. This, in turn, will reduce the possibility of employers, inadvertently or incorrectly, claiming EWSS amounts to which they are not entitled and having to subsequently repay those amounts to Revenue.
Guidelines on eligibility for the EWSS from 1 July 2021 can be found at Guidelines on eligibility for the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme on the Revenue website. Detailed operational guidance in relation to the scheme can be found at Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme Guidelines.
Revenue also recently published a list of employers who received payments under the EWSS in quarter 2 of 2021. The list can be found on the Revenue website.
Debt Warehousing Scheme
Businesses who have recently, or will shortly, resume trading are reminded that the Debt Warehousing Scheme is still in operation. This means businesses can continue to warehouse VAT and PAYE (Employer) liabilities as well as any overpayments of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) until the end of the year. However, a key condition to continue to avail of the scheme is that all tax returns must be filed as they fall due, even where the liability is nil.
For example: businesses that are re-opening now or during the month of August can add their VAT and PAYE (Employer) debts to the Debt Warehouse until 31 December 2021. The debts in the debt warehouse will then remain ‘parked’ on an interest free basis for a year from 1 January 2022. It is only as the interest free 12-month period comes to an end that businesses are required to agree a future payment arrangement with Revenue for the warehoused tax debt. The interest rate applied to such arrangements will be at the reduced rate of 3%.
Revenue has assured businesses that, when the 12 month interest free period ends, the timeframe allowed to pay the warehoused debt will be flexible and determined by the capacity of the business to pay these arrears in addition to paying current tax liabilities as they arise in the normal course.
Further information on the Debt Warehousing Scheme is available at Information booklet on debt warehousing and reduced rate of interest for outstanding 'non-COVID-19' debts.
Finally, the Finance (COVID-19 and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2021 also sets out the details of the Business Resumption Support Scheme (BRSS). BRSS will provide support to businesses that were significantly impacted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, even during periods when restrictions were eased. Businesses carrying on a trade, whose turnover in the period from 1 September 2020 to 31 August 2021 is reduced by at least 75% as compared with a reference period, may be eligible to make a claim under the BRSS. Details on the eligibility criteria for the BRSS are available at Guidelines on the operation of the Business Resumption Support Scheme. The portal for registering and making a claim for the BRSS will open in early September.