Mid West Society News

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In March, organisations had to act quickly to create a remote working culture in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Now, they need to consider what the next phase of work will look like, and how and where work will be done into the future. Kevin Empey explains. COVID-19 has prompted a lot of discussion about the next phase of work and working life. For many, the pandemic has provided an unwelcome but informative and possibly pivotal experiment in how and where we work. It has also accelerated trends and practices in world of work that were already happening, bringing them firmly into the mainstream. Most agree that we will not return to pre-COVID ways of working, nor will we see continue with this pandemic model of work we have experienced in recent months. The next phase of working life will be some form of a blended approach that historically carries a variety of labels such as remote working, flexible working and smart working. Whatever label we choose for it, employers (and employees) now have an opportunity to create a broader working culture – beyond the provision of ad-hoc flexible, technology-enabled, remote working practices which, on their own, may miss a much bigger message and opportunity. Levels of flexible working There is a clear spectrum of strategies or ‘levels’ that employers have taken in relation to flexible working. While health and well-being concerns are clearly dictating short-term return-to-work approaches, these different levels of flexible working are now informing more deliberate, ambitious and strategic workforce options that employers are considering for the longer-term. The choice of strategy comes down to whatever best suits the future business model, culture, and talent strategy for each organisation. The choice of approach should also complement other transformation objectives and not just be a stand-alone, isolated initiative.   Tactical levels – focused mainly on employees only Level 0 – Little or no flexible working offered or actively promoted. Level 1 – No formal guidelines but some ad-hoc, isolated and unstructured practices have evolved over time and are allowed. Mainly based on informal agreements and accommodating some work-life balance arrangements. Level 2 – Formal guidelines do exist but limited based on certain clear parameters e.g. Fridays optional for remote working or 80% expected in the office etc. Specific arrangements that are role specific and not universal across all job types. Strategic levels – focused jointly on the business and the employee Level 3 – Formal guidelines and principles exists as part of a wider workforce strategy. More freedom and discretion allowed at local business, team, and individual level. Parameters exist based on business and customer needs, but they are kept to a minimum. Remote working seen as part of a deliberate and wider agile working culture and integrated with other programmes and people priorities, e.g. diversity and inclusion, talent and skills strategy, recruitment etc.  Level 4 – Maximum level of freedom and choice provided. Clear business rationale (e.g. talent, efficiency, dispersed workforce, property benefits etc.) for optimal remote working offering and formally expressed as part of the organisation strategy.  Working remotely accepted as the normal practice with variances based on business need to be in the office for certain activities. These COVID times are presenting a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ‘reset’ a vision for how work will be designed in the future. This will help not only to increase organisational agility and future-fitness, but it will also distinguish employers in the battle for top talent who will be watching your next move with huge interest. Talent that will have higher expectations regarding how and where they work than they have ever had before. Kevin Empey is the Managing Director of WorkMatters Consulting.

Jul 17, 2020
Press release

Liquidity and cashflow are key concerns for one third of businesses in a post-Covid economy according to new data released today by Chartered Accountants Ireland from almost 2,000 members surveyed by the Institute on the island of Ireland. With 33 percent of respondents reporting a need to overhaul their business model post-pandemic, businesses, in particular SMEs, have highlighted specific measures that can help in the period ahead, including: One in four called for changes to company law to give businesses greater flexibility to navigate unprecedented circumstances like a pandemic Almost half of those working in practice called for greater leniency on filing deadlines, interest and penalties Digital transformation is a priority for 1 in 4 businesses post-Covid, with calls for accompanying digitalisation of government services Longer term business supports post-Covid and the use of VAT rate decreases as short-term stimulus were raised by 28 percent of members, rising to 39 percent of those in practice. The findings are released as the Institute publishes “The Next Financial Year: Making Irish Business More Competitive”, a new position paper which identifies pathways to a better business environment post-pandemic. Informed by extensive engagement with members working in practice, industry, SMEs and the public sector, the paper sets out proposals to create workable solutions and alternatives across a range of areas, including digitalisation, tax measures and business supports now open to Government / policymakers to consider. [Details below] Commenting, Dr Brian Keegan, Director of Public Policy, Chartered Accountants Ireland said “SMEs are fighting to stay afloat and post-pandemic, many will reimagine how they function or will pivot into new activities. Supports are currently based on the way that business has always been done, but with this changing, “The Next Financial Year” outlines a simplified, more flexible approach.  “Now is not the time to rely on dogged and uncommercial approaches. Government policy must be focussed on providing maximum support and flexibility to businesses.”  The proposals include an emphasis on digitalisation and ensuring government services and supports keep pace with changing business models post-pandemic, and the realities of operating as an SME at this time. These include: - Digitalisation Remote working has been one of the most visible signs of change since March. Many workers are now trusted to work productively from home where possible; and it is now acceptable to hold significant business meetings online. Chartered Accountants Ireland calls for the momentum to be maintained by increased support for the education and adoption of digital competencies across the business community through increased grant-funded programmes. Government must also play its part in supporting digitalisation, namely: full digitalisation of CRO services including the acceptance of electronic signatures and the electronic filing of documents to relieve the administrative burden and speed up processing, changes to the Companies Act to allow all companies to hold virtual AGMs, changes to the Companies Act to allow creditors meetings to be held by telephone and/or video conferencing, full automation of the professional services withholding tax system so that the record of the tax withheld is generated in electronic format and automatically issued to Revenue, pledge by Revenue to provide a MyEnquiries query response rate of five working days.  Other key proposals include extension of filing deadline for accounts due for 31 October to 31 December 2020 to 31 January 2021, increase of the examinership period to 150 days, simplification of existing support and funding schemes, especially those aimed at the SME sector, which are too onerous and complex to administer, push by Government for increased share of the €750 billion EU Recovery and Resilience Fund to deliver grant support to the hospitality, tourism, leisure and retail sectors. ENDS Read Next Financial Year

Jul 17, 2020
Press release

Today's decision by the General Court of the European Union in the already protracted Apple case recognises commercial realities and principles of fairness over legal technicalities. An initial reading of the decision suggests that the Court did not accept the Commission’s contention that the administrative decisions in the Apple Case were flawed. The Commission had not challenged Ireland's tax laws but rather how they were applied. The outcome vindicates Ireland’s adherence, not just to Irish but also to European rules when levying taxation. While the amounts of money involved are vast and the additional tax estimated at some €13bn would be welcome particularly now as we struggle to pay for the cost of the pandemic, it would have been wrong to claim money that is not rightfully ours, and  the Court has established that this is the case. The Apple case taken by the Commission is one of a number of cases opened in in recent years concerning the granting of State Aid using the tax system by Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands as well as Ireland. The Commission has not been successful in every instance.   It is to be hoped that the Commission will accept the decision of the General Court of the European Union, and not seek to damage the country’s reputation further with protracted legal proceedings.  

Jul 15, 2020
Press release

The group representing Irish accountancy bodies has called on the government to introduce emergency measures for the SME sector in Budget 2021 to help them withstand the impact of Covid-19 in the coming months. The Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies -Ireland (CCAB-I) launched its 2021 Pre-Budget Submission to Government today.  Concessions in terms of how the Government will tax Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme payments and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment are urgently required. For example, if an employee receives €350 per week under the TWSS, this amounts to €7,700 over 22 weeks and is a substantial amount of untaxed income for a worker to deal with at the end of the year. Tax due on these payments should be spread over four years or more to avoid a significant drop in the worker’s take home pay.  The Submission acknowledges the unprecedented supports provided to date, however, warns that in the absence of further extraordinary supports, many SMEs in Ireland cannot survive. Measures proposed in the Submission cover tax supports for self-employed individuals, measures to support SME recovery and tax rule reforms to reflect modern work practices.  Anticipating that many self-employed individuals will not be in a position to pay their income tax liability due in November this year, the Submission proposes the write-down of the first €10,000 of the balance of the 2019 tax liability of self-employed individuals on a targeted basis for those in financial difficulty as a highly effective means of support.  With an eye to supporting entrepreneurship and incentivising investment, among the measures the Submission also proposes are the implementation of the recommendations of the Indecon Report on the Revised Entrepreneur Relief; the tailoring of R&D tax credits to facilitate the economic recovery of the SME sector; the introduction of a digital tax credit for SMEs; and the refining of the Employment Incentive and Investment Scheme (EIIS) rules to generate much needed equity funding for SMEs operating in difficult economic circumstances. Commenting Norah Collender, Professional Tax Lead, Chartered Accountants Ireland said, “When we talk about small businesses, we mean local retailers, manufacturers, hospitality, and service providers. They are reeling from the economic impact of COVID-19and face liquidity pressures which could result in business closures without Government support. The tax system is a powerful means of getting supports to SMEs, which in turn always respond positively with increased economic activity. “The Programme for Government talks about many tax initiatives to help small business which it must follow through on as soon as possible along with extending emergency tax measures introduced by Revenue.  Small businesses need to know where they stand so a practical way of doing this is for Revenue to confirm that its emergency tax measures will remain in place for the rest of 2020.    “It’s natural for any Government faced with a deficit to consider cutting back tax supports but such a move will mean the end for many businesses.  SMEs account for over 1 million employees, or 68.4% of total employment in the Irish business economy and economic recovery is simply impossible if these businesses don’t get the tax supports they need.” 

Jul 13, 2020
Press release

Today, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a set of new measures to offset the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the UK economy. Alan Gourley, Chair of NI Tax Committee, Chartered Accountants Ireland gave his initial reaction, commenting “The key measures announced in the Summer Statement today are designed to encourage consumers to get back out spending and to have the confidence to enjoy a meal out, buy a home and return workers to regular employment. “Today’s announcements will have a positive impact on the economy in Northern Ireland.  We have the same Stamp Duty Land Tax system as England so Northern Ireland will benefit from the increase from £125,000 to £500,0000 of the zero-rate threshold, a saving of £2,500 on a home costing £250,000. “This zero-rate threshold in addition to measures like the reduced 5% VAT rate for hospitality services, the innovative “eat out to help out scheme” and the jobs retention bonus are all time bound incentives due to expire early next year at the latest. This will hopefully encourage consumers to have the confidence and the money to resume spending in 2020. This can only be a good thing as local businesses in Northern Ireland really need consumer support to get back on track.  “These incentives, combined with a sensible approach to social distancing will help as the economy tries to navigate the post-COVID-19 recovery.” Highlights include:  Jobs retention bonus will be paid to employers from 1/11/2020 to 31/1/21 - £1k bonus per furloughed employee who is returned to work - employee must be paid at least £520 per month on average between Nov 2020 and Jan 2021.  Payments will be made from February 2021. Stamp duty land tax on residential properties – 0% threshold will be raised to £500,000 (currently £125,000) until 31/3/2020 – effective from today for England and NI. VAT on hospitality – food (eat-in or hot takeaway food from restaurants, cafes and pubs),  accommodation (hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites) and attractions (cinemas, theme parks and zoos) cut from 20% to 5% from next Wednesday until 12 January 2021. For month of August – “eat out to help out” discount - meals eaten at any participating business, from Monday to Wednesday, will be 50% off, up to a maximum discount of £10 per head for everyone, including children. Businesses will need to register, and can do so through a website, open next Monday. Each week in August, businesses can then claim the money back, with the funds in their bank account within 5 working days.  

Jul 08, 2020

Paul Henry, Director of Osborne King and President of Chartered Accountants Ireland has been named as Chair of CCAB for 2020/22. CCAB (The Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies) is an umbrella group of the accountancy profession in the UK and has a combined membership worldwide of 408,000. Its core purpose is to promote sustainable growth in the economy through the accountancy profession. Paul Henry takes over as Chair from Mike McKeon CA, President of ICAS (the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland). During his two year tenure, Paul will lead the CCAB’s work in identifying and capitalising on the opportunities that the rapid pace of change in the business and accountancy world brings in 2020. Equally he will lead the CCAB’s response to the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19 for its members and the wider business community.  Commenting on his appointment, Paul said: “I look forward to engaging with as many members and stakeholders as possible in the coming months to help our profession to adapt to all the changes that affect us, from rapid technological advancements to increased regulatory requirements. This of course all takes place in the context of a business community worldwide that is facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impact on the way we all live and conduct business.  “Another area of focus for me in the coming 2 years will be strengthening the reputation of our industry to ensure that we can attract the best and brightest individuals. The lifeblood of any profession is the young talent that chooses to join its ranks.” Paul Henry is a Director with Belfast based property consultancy Osborne King and has extensive experience of real estate, insolvency and corporate finance. A resident of Belfast, he qualified with Pricewaterhouse in 1989. Prior to his current role, he held positions with the Industrial Development Board, Enterprise Equity, PricewaterhouseCoopers and ASM Chartered Accountants.  He also served as Chairman of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society in 2014.  The CCAB was established in 1988 to coordinate the representation functions of the participant professional bodies in areas of common interest to the profession. It has a number of committees which respond to Government and regulatory initiatives in their respective areas.

Jul 07, 2020
Press release

Tuesday's announcement that Revenue is to query claims made by 55,000 Irish businesses for temporary wage subsidies is very unhelpful to Irish industry which already has so much to deal with.  While claims for the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme should of course be policed, the announcement that Revenue is to correspond with so many Irish businesses runs counter to their previous indication that vetting would only take place at the end of the scheme.  Claiming the Temporary Wage Subsidy depended on eligibility, and businesses were asked to self-assess their entitlement. The blanket enquiry approach suggests that no attempt is being made to identify risky claims by the authorities.  All claimants of the scheme are to have their names published, and all employees are clear from their payslips that their employer is claiming money through the scheme.  These very public checks should go a significant way towards satisfying the authorities that the process is transparent.    Commenting, Norah Collender, Professional Tax Leader at Chartered Accountants Ireland said       “Carrying out blanket enquiries of this nature the very week that so many businesses are trying to reopen signals an indifference to the plight of many businesses. We are calling on Revenue to defer any compliance interventions until the Autumn. This will help businesses to focus on getting back to work rather than having to deal with Revenue correspondence following their enforced shutdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”  The Revenue Commissioners have to date been exemplary in their response to dealing with the pandemic, and in particular, their operation of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme has been deservedly praised.  Unfortunately, this blanket and unselective compliance measure, launched at this critical juncture, could undermine much of the good work and a lot of goodwill established in recent weeks.    Ends   

Jun 24, 2020
News

For most, figuring out parenting and your career is difficult. It can be even more so if you are an LGBT parent. Peter Keenan-Gavaghan explains how the support from his organisation enabled him and his husband to make the leap into parenthood while growing his career. Balancing a career and a family is always a juggling act. However, when your family does not fit the traditional model, it can also prove to be a minefield for all concerned, especially at work. Societal expectations of parental roles, parental names and second glances are only a few of the factors that need to be thought about before LGBT people become parents. Despite having made the decision to have children early in our relationship, it took my husband and I eight years before our son arrived into the world. With both of us being working professionals, the process of family planning started in the traditional way: how do we balance parenthood, careers and our relationship? We quickly realised that we also needed to consider society. In the end, some of it came down to practicalities, and some came down to our own values, preferences and external supports.  Parental leave One area we had to consider was managing early childcare. My firm gives enhanced paid parental leave regardless of gender and this played a big part in our decision that I would be the stay at home dad for the first seven months of our son's life, with my husband returning to work on a reduced work week. Without the seven-month paid parental leave from my firm, our family would be much different position starting out – and certainly disadvantaged compared to mums going on leave. It’s important that not only the people in an organisation are supportive to LGBT families, but that the support is reflected in the HR policies and procedures. Creating a network We always knew we would need to navigate the potential assumptions from colleagues and clients that there is a ‘mum’ at home. We quickly realised that if social assumptions were to change, we needed to be proud of our family, and not place each other back in the closet. Having same-sex parents is nothing new in Barclays. Indeed, when we were investigating how we would become parents, one of the first ports of call was Barclays LGBT network, Spectrum. There we got a greater understanding of fostering, adoption and surrogacy. The network also holds regular talks on ‘non-traditional' parenting to educate colleagues on how they can become parents and continue to build their career. While nothing would have stopped my husband and me from having our son, the information and support gained from the LGBT network in my organisation eased the process for us (as much as to-be parents can be eased when planning for their first) and normalises families like ours to colleagues and clients. Before going on paternity leave, my team did the traditional baby gift presentation and I was invited to expectant parents’ events. This not only showed support but also demonstrated inclusivity. Talent retention What I have found since going back to work is that I have become more focused and flexible. Because Barclays gave me the information on parental leave, the precious first months with my son, and the flexibility to alter my working hours to the typical parent’s life without judgements or assumptions, they have retained a committed employee and have helped create a happy family. Peter Keenan-Gavaghan is Vice President of Barclays Internal Audit – RFT & Functions Technology.

Jun 22, 2020
Press release

Chartered Accountants Ireland has responded to the announcement this afternoon by Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, TD that the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) is to be extended until the end of August.  In the face of unprecedented disruption following the arrival of COVID-19, the swift introduction of this Government scheme has been a vital lifeline for businesses since March.  By retaining that crucial link between employer and employee, it not only provided immediate support for businesses but also positions them as strongly as possible for recovery when the time comes. Dr Brian Keegan, Director of Public Policy at Chartered Accountants Ireland said “Ireland’s subsidy scheme compares extremely favourably with similar initiatives worldwide, and credit is due to the Revenue Commissioners for in effect putting the PAYE system into reverse to make the scheme work effectively.  “Today’s extension of the TWSS brings much needed clarity for businesses at a time when the economy is gradually being reawakened. It allows businesses to plan for the coming months with a greater degree of confidence.”

Jun 05, 2020
Press release

Supporting post-COVID economic recovery will be top priority for largest accounting body. Following today’s AGM, the gender balance of the Institute’s Council stands at 50:50.  Paul Henry has been elected President of Chartered Accountants Ireland for 2020/2021 at its 132nd Annual General Meeting today, held virtually for the first time. Addressing the Chartered Accountants Ireland AGM, Mr Henry said his key priority as President of Ireland’s largest accounting body would be to harness the ability, experience and expertise of its membership network to support economic recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addressing the challenges of COVID-19, he said: “This is, of course primarily a public health crisis and businesses have rightly taken unprecedented steps to protect their staff and the public. “As we come through the immediate threat of the pandemic, we will face the significant challenge of rebuilding the economies of the island of Ireland. I believe that our 28,500 members working in leadership, finance or advisory roles throughout Irish business, will play a key role in kick-starting the recovery and ensuring that business bounces back strongly. “It will be the challenge of a generation, requiring a collaborative approach between business, political leaders and the public sector. Chartered Accountants Ireland will be a strong supporter and advocate for the business community and the positive impact that a renewed economy can have for all throughout our society.” Mr Henry said that as well as supporting its current members, Chartered Accountants Ireland would work to highlight the opportunities available to a new generation of potential trainees within the profession. He said: “Economic rebuilding will create opportunities, particularly in finance and leadership roles. We believe that Chartered Accountancy training is the best possible business education and is more flexible than ever before, creating great opportunities for those seeking to train, whether they are a school-leaver or an experienced business professional.” Mr Henry, who takes over as President from Conall O’Halloran, is a Director with Belfast based property consultancy Osborne King and has extensive experience of real estate, insolvency and corporate finance. A resident of Belfast, Mr Henry qualified with Pricewaterhouse in 1989. Prior to his current role, he held positions with the Industrial Development Board, Enterprise Equity, PricewaterhouseCoopers and ASM Chartered Accountants.  He also served as Chairman of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society in 2014. At today’s AGM, Pat O’Neill was elected Deputy President of Chartered Accountants Ireland. Sinead Donovan was elected Vice-President. Following today’s AGM, the gender balance of the Institute’s Council stands at 50:50. Progress is also being recorded at wider membership level, which is currently 42 per cent female and 58 per cent male. ENDS For more information:  Jill Farrelly PR and Communications Manager Chartered Accountants Ireland jill.farrelly@charteredaccountants.ie/087 738 6608 About Chartered Accountants Ireland Chartered Accountants Ireland is Ireland’s largest and longest established professional body of accountants founded in 1888. The Institute, which is an all-island body, currently represents over 28,500 members around the world. Chartered Accountants Ireland is a founding member of Chartered Accountants Worldwide, the global alliance that brings together over 1.8 million Chartered accountants and students in more than 185 countries. Update For a synopsis of press coverage arising, please see here.

May 22, 2020

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chartered Accountants Ireland has worked with training firms, regulators, CASSI (the student representative body) and other stakeholders to consider all options, to ensure that the 2020 examinations take place.   In the current circumstances, Chartered Accountants Ireland, in partnership with our training firms, has announced its intention to move to remote “live” proctored (invigilated) E-Assessment for the 2020 examinations for CAP1, CAP2 and FAE. This decision was communicated to all students earlier this week, as well as the supports to be made available to students in transitioning to E-Assessments and key exam dates.     Director of Education & Training with Chartered Accountants Ireland, Ronan O’Loughlin, said:  “The Institute’s aim throughout has been and remains to provide training firms and students with the certainty of examinations in 2020, while putting the health and well-being of students, staff and other parties at the core of the issue.   The Institute acknowledges the support and assistance we have received to date from all firms, in carefully assessing the options available. Indeed, this cooperation and support has enabled the progress made to date.”  More information on the workings of E-Assessments, supports for students and key dates is available here: EAssessment May 2020. 

May 22, 2020
News

In these uniquely challenging circumstances, how can accountants support non-profits? Patricia Quinn and Paula Nyland tell us that thoughtful and clear-eyed planning is needed to mitigate the challenges facing these organisations. Stories from the non-profit sector can paint a bleak picture of services threatened, vulnerable people at risk, fundraising decimated, and mature non-profit businesses facing unprecedented challenges to their viability. The emergency €40 million funding package provided by Government for the non-profit sector will go a ways towards buying some much-needed time, allowing these non-commercial businesses to take stock, regroup and renew their operations. If you look at the thousands of non-profits listed on Benefacts public website, you can see that the sector is highly diverse. At one end, there are heavily staffed health and social care service providers that derive most of their funding from the State in exchange for providing essential services. At the other end, there are thousands of small, local associations and clubs that rely mostly on donations and volunteer effort. These are uniquely challenging circumstances for non-profits and accountants have an important role to play in supporting them – whether as professional advisors or as voluntary Board members. As analysts of sector data, these are the kinds of situations Benefacts has encountered: Dependency on fundraising and donations is high, with almost €0.9 billion reported in the most recent financial statements of all the companies in Benefacts Database of Irish Non-profits. The pandemic has decimated traditional interactive fundraising in its many forms – whether event-driven, church gate collections or calling to homes to sign up to direct debits. Some high-profile campaigns have mitigated this, such as Pieta House, which raised €2 million after a push on social media, but this is only a third of the €6 million raised by last year’s ‘Darkness Into Light’ walk, with no alternative project to fill the €4 million gap. Online fundraising simply does not have the same impact. Many non-profits do not hold an adequate level of reserves. A good rule of thumb accepted by some Government funders is 10 weeks of operational expenditure. Sadly, few non-profits enjoy this level of security. In fact, many Government funders actively discourage the holding of reserves, with the result that several non-profits operate a ‘hand-to-mouth’ existence in terms of cash. Although the cost base of larger non-profits reflects the labour-intensive nature of their work, Benefacts analysis shows that in the case of many smaller non-profits (i.e. less than €250,000), non-payroll expenditure amounts to some 70% of their cost base. This means the COVID-19 subsidy will be of limited value. The demand for services is higher, and the costs of delivery will increase with the cost of delivering care with social distancing restrictions still active. This will have far-reaching effects in homelessness services, respite, residential care, and many more service areas dominated by non-profits. In the voluntary housing sector, income support payments have helped maintain rent payments but, without a further injection of funding, it will become harder to meet the demand for housing given the likely consequences for the coming recession for the building sector. Inevitably, the current focus is on the immediate issues, but for the medium-term, thoughtful and clear-eyed planning will be needed. Directors and trustees need to be looking at cash flow projections, potential increases in demand, and commitments to continued government support. Without this, sector leaders are telling us that tough decisions may be needed to cut services as early as Q3 2020. Although the emergency fund is very welcome, many organisations will need an early commitment of future government funding into 2021 and beyond to maintain essential services. The alternative could be closures, with all the unthinkable consequences for the most vulnerable in our society.   Patricia Quinn is the Managing Director of Benefacts. Paula Nyland is the Head of Finance at Benefacts.

May 14, 2020
Tax

The Revenue FAQs on the scheme are updated to version 8.  The main FAQ update includes the changes to the criteria for eligible employees to include certain employers who missed the 15 March payroll deadline for their February 2020 payroll.   Updated guidance on Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs for the scheme was also published  (20 April).  Both documents answer some of the common questions from members on the scheme.     The updates cover:  Staff transfers under TUPE – confirmed now in FAQs at 2.10 and Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs (pg 4). Treatment for group companies – confirmed in Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs (pg 4) Treatment for individual business divisions – confirmed in Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs (pg 2) Reduction in turnover test – further information and examples in Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs (pg 2 and pg 3) Operating the scheme from 16 April to support employees whose average net weekly pay was greater than €960, and their current gross pay is below €960 per week – information in the FAQs  Phase 2 of the scheme effective from 4 May – information now in the FAQs Revised employee eligibility criteria for wage subsidy scheme – section 3 of FAQs You are reminded that the scheme is provided for in legislation, section 28 of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020.  If you wish to cross check a reference to the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, you can do so on the Institute online version on TaxSource.    The Institute is constantly engaging with Revenue to seek clarifications on the operation of the Wage Subsidy Scheme.  The FAQ guidance has been revised eight times now since originally published, often to reflect the answers to the queries we have obtained.  We are reporting all updates on our COVID-19 hub and we are keeping our dedicated Wage Subsidy Scheme webpage up to date with relevant information.    

Apr 27, 2020
Tax

Members can now visit our dedicated UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”) page, which provides guidance on the scheme announced on 20 March 2020. Download our new factsheet on the who, what, where, when and why of the scheme. Last week the Institute’s UK Taxation Specialist Leontia Doran took part in an Ulster Society webinar on the CJRS. The online CJRS calculator has also now been updated. HMRC have also advised us today that payments for claims made on Monday 20 April will be in employers’ bank accounts by tomorrow (28‌‌ April). Readers are also advised that the CJRS guidance has been updated again. You are advised to bookmark these links and print a copy of the guidance which applied at the time you submit your claim for the CJRS grant. The updated guidance is available at the following links: Employee guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme Employer guidance, page 1: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme Employer guidance, page 2: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/work-out-80-of-your-employees-wages-to-claim-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme Employer guidance, page 3: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme Employer guidance, RTI: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/reporting-payments-in-paye-real-time-information-from-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme Now that the scheme is up and running we’d like to hear about your experiences of the scheme and online portal. HMRC also advise that any issues being experienced should also be reported to them via the online Agent Forum so that they can triage and respond to widespread issues more quickly. Remember, in order to do so you must have signed up for and be logged into the Forum. All agents, who are a member of a professional body, are invited to join HMRC’s Agent Forum. This dedicated Agent Forum is hosted in a private area within the HMRC’s Online Customer Forum. You can interact with other agents and HMRC experts to discuss topical issues and processes. The following live webinar provides a step-by-step guide on how to make a claim through the scheme: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – How to make a claim: choose a date and time During this webinar HMRC will be taking you through the following steps: essential information before you make your claim calculating your claim processing your claim after submitting your claim. If you’ve missed any of HMRC’s other recent webinars, or have been unable to join, you can view a recording on HMRC’s YouTube channel. HMRC have also sent the below update on the CJRS which contains important advice for claimants. “More than 285,000 businesses have already applied for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme since it went live on Monday 20 April. Accessing the system We have noticed that some people have had difficulty accessing the system because they do not have an active PAYE enrolment. In order to make a claim they will need to: have a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if they don’t already have a GG account, they can apply here, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for 'HMRC services: sign in or register'; be enrolled for PAYE online – if they aren’t registered yet, they can do so now, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for 'PAYE Online for employers'. I’m pleased to say that we were able to investigate and resolve the issue quickly thanks to the agents who raised an issue with authorisations when the new system first went live on Monday morning. Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Calculator We are updating the online calculator tool so that it covers more employment circumstances this afternoon. The update will mean that employers can use it to work out what they can claim for most employees who are paid irregular amounts each pay period, as well as those who are paid fixed amounts. Webinars now available To support businesses, we have been offering live webinars on a variety of Covid-19 related topics, including the Job Retention Scheme and how to make a JRS claim. Employers can book a place on our 'how to' JRS webinars here. They can book a place on any of our other webinars or watch a recording on HMRC’s YouTube channel If employers have already made a claim Employers should retain all records and calculations for their claims, in case we need to contact them. Provided their claim is made in accordance with HMRC’s published guidance, they can expect to receive the funds six working days after their application. We ask them not to contact us before this time. HMRC will check claims made through the scheme and will act to protect public money against anyone who makes a claim using dishonest or fraudulent information. We continue to be busy supporting customers at this time, so we would ask that they only call us if they can’t find what they need on GOV.UK or through our webchat service - this will leave our lines open for those who need our help most. We’d encourage all employers to also protect their own credentials from potential scammers and opportunist criminal activity.”

Apr 27, 2020
Tax

  Revenue published updated guidance on Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs for the scheme (20 April).  Updated FAQs, now version 7, has also been published (21 April).  Both documents answer some of the common questions from members on the scheme.    The updates cover: Staff transfers under TUPE – confirmed now in FAQs at 2.10 and Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs (pg 4). Treatment for group companies – confirmed in Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs (pg 4) Treatment for individual business divisions – confirmed in Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs (pg 2) Reduction in turnover test – further information and examples in Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs (pg 2 and pg 3)      Operating the scheme from 16 April to support employees whose average net weekly pay was greater than €960, and their current gross pay is below €960 per week – information in the FAQs  Phase 2 of the scheme effective from 4 May – information now in the FAQs You are reminded that the scheme is provided for in legislation, section 28 of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020.  If you wish to cross check a reference to the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, you can do so on the Institute online version on TaxSource.   We continue to correspond with Revenue to obtain timely clarifications and answers to members’ questions. We will report relevant updates as we receive them.    For more, visit our dedicated Wage Subsidy Scheme page on the COVID-19 Hub.

Apr 21, 2020
Tax

We have published a resource for members providing guidance on the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”), which was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Friday 20 March 2020. The content has been derived entirely from HMRC’s guidance and communications directly to Chartered Accountants Ireland on the CJRS. We will be developing a similar page in the coming weeks to provide guidance on the coronavirus self-employment income support scheme which is due to begin making payments by early June 2020. We have also developed an Institute factsheet on the UK Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme that sets out key information on the W5 (who, what, where, when and why) of the scheme. The Institute will continue to engage with HMRC on our members behalf in respect of COVID-19 supports and will share the most up to date information as it becomes available.

Apr 21, 2020
Tax

Now available: a dedicated page on the COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme This page is a summary of advice for members on the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme. Updated daily, it is providing the Institute's advice on the scheme under the following headings: Employer eligibility Publication of employers Treatment of employer top-up payments Revenue reconciliation Dealing with Revenue  Clarifications from Revenue  For more information see also Revenue’s guidance and Revenue’s FAQs, which are being updated regularly.  

Apr 07, 2020
Tax

Under the terms of the scheme, an employer can make an additional payment or ‘top-up-payment’ to their employee to fully or partially make up the difference between the amount provided by the subsidy scheme and the employee’s Average Net Weekly Pay.   According to updates to Revenue’s FAQs (section 1.6) published yesterday, such additional payment cannot be regrossed, the payment is treated as gross pay and liable to Income Tax and USC according to the employee’s tax credits and rate bands.   The legislation (Part 7) is silent on the calculation of the ‘top-up-payment’ and the treatment of such payment, so much depends on Revenue’s operation of the scheme and their guidance.   Such guidance is updated regularly, the FAQs are at version 5 since their first publication two weeks back.  We therefore recommend that members review the current Revenue guidance and keep a watch out for our timely updates which we are publishing to our COVID hub.  We will continue our regular engagement with Revenue and other government agencies to clarify operation of the scheme and other related tax measures.  Revenue has also added examples to the FAQ document (sections 4.4.1, 4.4.2, 4.4.3) showing how to calculate the Average Net Weekly Pay, the impact of the ‘top-up-payment on the amount of the subsidy the employer will receive and the PRSI class.  It is worth reviewing the examples to better understand how Revenue are operating the scheme.   Please also bear in mind that the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme is a government measure to provide financial assistance to employers and support their efforts to retain employees.  Any payments or repayments to Revenue under the scheme are to/from employers, not too and from employees.    Some details on the Revenue reconciliation of refunds received and amounts due to employers under the scheme are included.  Revenue say that further details on how they will administer the reconciliation and recover any amounts owing to them will be published in due course.     

Apr 06, 2020

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