Over the last year, the Government introduced a number of schemes and reliefs to support businesses through the pandemic. Visit Gov.ie to see all up to date supports information: These supports include the:
Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS)
TWSS operated from 26 March to 31 August 2020. The scheme provided a vital support to 66,500 employers in respect of 664,000 employees, during the first months of the COVID-19 restrictions.
Reconciliation is the final phase in the TWSS programme and Revenue is now in the process of providing TWSS reconciliation information to employers who participated in the scheme. It will ensure that there is an accurate reconciliation between the:
- subsidy amounts paid by Revenue to employers and
- subsidy amounts that were properly payable to employers for relevant employees and paid to those employees.
Employers have until 30 June 2021 to review their TWSS reconciliation information, provide any outstanding information in relation to subsidies paid to employees, and accept the reconciliation balance on ROS. Please click Here for further details.
Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS)
The CRSS support is available to eligible businesses who have been required to prohibit or considerably restrict customers from accessing their business premises. The CRSS is expected to continue until 30 June 2021.
Eligible businesses can make a claim to Revenue for a payment known as an Advance Credit for Trading Expenses (ACTE). The ACTE is equal to 10% of the average weekly turnover of the business in 2019 up to €20,000, plus 5% on turnover over €20,000. In the case of new businesses, the turnover is based on the average actual weekly turnover in 2020. The ACTE is subject to a maximum weekly payment of €5,000.
To qualify for the CRSS you must be able to demonstrate that:
- your business operates from a business premises wholly located in a region subject to Government restrictions in the claim period
- because of the Government restrictions, your business must prohibit or significantly restrict members of the public from your business premises
- the turnover of your business during the period of restrictions (the claim period) will be no more than 25% of the:
- average weekly turnover of the business in 2019
- average weekly turnover in 2020 in the case of a new business)
- you hold a valid tax clearance cert
- your business has complied with obligations in relation to registering and accounting for Value Added Tax (VAT)
Commercial Rates Waiver
- The commercial rates waiver for impacted businesses has been extended into 2021. The 2021 waiver is necessarily more targeted than was the case in 2020. It is aimed at supporting businesses closed or very seriously impacted by current restrictions, which ordinarily provide employment and generate economic activity. See here for further details. Automatic eligibility is extended to:
Revenue – Information and Advice for Taxpayers
Revenue confirmed that the Debt Warehousing Scheme remains available to support businesses experiencing tax payment difficulties arising from the current COVID-19 Level 5 public health restrictions.
The Debt Warehousing Scheme allows businesses to ‘park’ PAYE (Employer) and VAT tax debts arising from the COVID-19 crisis, as well as self-assessed income tax amounts (balance of 2019 Income Tax liability and 2020 preliminary tax) and Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme overpayments.
These debts can be ‘parked’ on an interest free basis for 12 months following resumption of trading. At the end of the 12-month interest free period, the warehoused debt may be paid in full without incurring an interest charge or paid through a phased payment arrangement at a significantly reduced interest rate of 3% per annum. This compares to the standard rate of 10% per annum that would otherwise apply to such debts.
Filing Tax Returns
Taxpayers should continue to file their tax returns even if payment of the resulting liabilities, in whole or in part, is not possible. Where due to COVID-19, key personnel that compute tax returns are unavailable, Revenue advise that the relevant return should be submitted on a best estimate basis.
The application of a surcharge for late CT1 Corporation Tax returns for accounting periods from June 2019 to September 2020, i.e. those due by 23 March 2020 and up to 23 June 2021, is suspended until 30 June 2021.
Residence Rules – Force Majeure circumstances
Tax residence is determined by the number of days spent in the State. 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. Accordingly, the individual will not be regarded as being present in the State for tax residence purposes from the day after the intended day of departure.
The Revenue manual on e-Working has been updated to include:
- explanation of what constitutes an e-worker, with examples,
- conditions for payment by employer for home expenses of e-workers up to €3.20 per day without deducting PAYE, PRSI and USC,
- clarification that current Government recommendations for employees to work from home as a result of COVID-19 meet the conditions for payment by employer of home expenses up to €3.20,
- sets out the approach for employees claiming relief for allowable e-working expenses where employer does not make a payment.
Full details of these Revenue Measures can be found Here
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
A range of measures to provide income support to people affected by COVID-19 have also been introduced. The measures, which assist both employers and employees, include enhanced illness benefit, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and a COVID 19 – Wage Subsidy Scheme.
Rates payable under the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) vary depending on prior earnings, with the maximum rate being €350. The COVID-19 illness benefit is also €350 per week. Full details of these measures and more can be found Here
There is also a Short Time Work Support available from the Department which is an income support payment for employees who have been temporarily placed on a shorter working week and should assist employers during periods of temporary difficulty. Further details can be found Here.
Department of Finance
On the 18th March, the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform announced new banking provisions to be discussed with the Central Bank. These provisions provide for flexible arrangements, including a payment break for mortgages and other loans. Customers affected by COVID-19 must contact their bank to discuss the flexibility available to them.
Full details of these proposals and more can be found Here
Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation have put a range of supports in place, including:
- COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme: The COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme facilitates up to €2 billion in lending to eligible businesses. Loans under the Scheme range from €10,000 to €1 million, for terms of up to five and a half years. Financing will be offered through a range of products, including term loans, working capital loans and overdrafts. Loans of up to €250,000 under the Scheme are available unsecured (except where this is a requirement of the product feature, as in the case of asset finance, invoice discount facilities, etc). The Scheme is operated by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) through participating finance providers.
- COVID-19 Business Loans: COVID-19 Business Loans up to €25,000 are available through Microfinance Ireland with zero repayments and zero interest for the first 6 months and the equivalent of an additional 6 months interest-free subject to certain terms and conditions. The loans can range from €5,000 to €25,000. Repayments will commence in month 7 for the remaining period of your loan. The Government will rebate to you the interest paid in the following 6 months (months 7-12 of your loan). The interest rate after the first 6 months will be a reduced interest rate 4.5% APR if submitted through the Local Enterprise Office Network (or other referral partners) or 5.5% APR if you apply directly to Microfinance Ireland. The loan terms are typically up to 3 years and there are no fees or charges.
- COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme: The SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme for eligible businesses supports loans from €25,000 up to €1.5 million (first €500,000 unsecured) with a maximum interest rate of 4%. Applications can be made through the SBCI website at sbci.gov.ie. Eligibility criteria apply.
Future Growth Loan Scheme: The enhanced Future Growth Loan Scheme makes up to €800m of loans available for terms of 7-10 years. This scheme is available to eligible businesses in Ireland, including those in the primary agriculture (farmers) and seafood sectors, to support strategic long-term investment
- Sustaining Enterprise Fund: The Sustaining Enterprise Fund is specifically aimed at firms operating in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors, with 10 or more employees, that are vulnerable but viable. The fund is operated by Enterprise Ireland with amounts between €100,000 and €800,000 available to eligible companies who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The fund includes a 50% non-repayable grant element, up to a limit of €200,000.
- Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund: The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund will focus on investment in medium and large scale enterprises in Ireland through a Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund. The fund, worth up to €2 billion, will make capital available to medium and large enterprises on commercial terms.
- General grant supports: The full range of Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Local Enterprise Office and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant supports continue to be available to eligible firms to help with strategies to access finance, commence or ramp-up online trading activity, reconfigure business models, cut costs, innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness.
- Tourism Business Continuity Scheme: The new €55 million Tourism Business Continuity Scheme will support those tourism businesses that were not eligible for the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) payment or previous Fáilte Ireland continuity grant schemes.
- Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID: The Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID (SBASC) is a grant designed for businesses that are not eligible for the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), the Fáilte Ireland Business Continuity grant or other direct sectoral grant schemes. Applications should be made to your Local Authority by the closing date 21 April 2021. Eligible businesses will receive a payment of €4,000 for the first quarter of 2021. A decision on the second quarter 2021 will be made in due course. Rate paying businesses including wholesalers, suppliers and caterers down 75% or more in turnover will benefit.
- Enterprise Support Grant: The Enterprise Support Grant for businesses impacted by COVID-19 is available for eligible self-employed people who close their COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment on or after 18 May 2020. This will provide business owners with a once-off grant of up to €1,000 to restart their business which was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Trading Online Voucher: The Local Enterprise Office Trading Online Voucher is a government grant scheme, designed to assist small businesses with up to 10 employees. It offers financial assistance of up to €2,500 along with training and advice to help your business trade online. Businesses that have already received a Trading Online Voucher can apply for a second voucher, where upgrades are required.
- LEAN for Micro: LEAN for Micro is available to Local Enterprise Office clients to help build resilience within small companies. Businesses can avail of consultancy support with a LEAN Expert or help to implement new remote working and physical distancing guidelines. Contact your Local Enterprise Office for further details.
- COVID-19 Business Financial Planning Grant: The COVID-19 Business Financial Planning Grant, worth up to €5,000, is designed to help companies to develop a robust financial plan, including the preparation of documentation required to support applications for external finance from banks and/or other finance providers. The grant is a new support for Enterprise Ireland clients and those manufacturing or internationally traded services companies that employ 10 or more full time employees.
- Cross-border companies: InterTradeIreland’s Emergency Business Solutions offers professional advice, to the value of €2,250, to address key business challenges related to COVID-19. The E-Merge programme provides €2,800 consultancy support to help cross-border businesses develop online sales and eCommerce solutions.
- COVID-19 Products Scheme: The COVID-19 Products Scheme facilitates the research and development of COVID products, to enable the construction or upgrading of testing and upscaling infrastructures that contribute to the development COVID-19 relevant products, as well as to support the production of products needed to respond to the outbreak. The scheme is delivered through IDA Ireland’s COVID-19 supports and Enterprise Ireland’s COVID-19 Business Response.
- Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme: The Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme, delivered by SOLAS, provides financial support for apprenticeship employers who take on apprentices on national apprenticeship programmes. Apprenticeship employers are eligible for a €3,000 payment for each new apprentice.
- Code of Conduct for commercial rents: A voluntary Code of Conduct between landlords and tenants for commercial rents has been developed based on examples from other jurisdictions and with input from other Departments, State agencies and key stakeholders. The aim of the Code is to facilitate discussions between landlords and tenants impacted by COVID-19.