Chartered Accountants Ireland COVID 19 updates 18 March 2020

Mar 20, 2020
Chartered Accountants Ireland has been engaging with government agencies, regulators and the Revenue authorities, North and South, around the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, and potential issues with filing deadlines, payments etc. Their responses and links to information are available on our website, and we will keep these up to date as part of our ongoing support for our members. We can provide the following updates as of this afternoon; further information and updates are expected over the coming days. The first section of this update deals with guidance from the Irish Government, the second section provides corresponding guidance for Northern Ireland, and we conclude with observations from our Practice Consulting team and our Professional Standards department.

Ireland

Social Welfare: information for employers and employee
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has a range of measures to provide income support to people affected by COVID-19. We have summarised the measures announced to date which includes advice for employers and welfare advice for the self-employed and employees.

Revenue Commissioners: measures in response to COVID-19
Continue to file tax returns on time and engage with Revenue.  That is the advice to businesses navigating the trading difficulties caused by the impacts of COVID-19. Small and medium enterprise (SMEs) dealing with trading and cash flow difficulties  will not have the added worry of statutory interest charges. Revenue announced that interest will not be applied to late tax payments of VAT for the January/February period due by 23 March or employer PAYE liabilities for the months of February and March. Revenue also announced that the payment date for local property tax will be deferred until 21 May for certain homeowners.

Engagement with key stakeholders in response to COVID-19
Chartered Accountants Ireland has been engaging with the Companies Registration Office, Revenue, the Central Bank and other key government agencies and stakeholders around the impact of COVID-19, and potential issues with filing deadlines etc. We have received a number of responses and information from regulators which are available on our website.

Ireland’s fiscal response to COVID-19
The Parliamentary Budget Office has provided an overview of the fiscal measures that have been announced to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic at a national and European level. It also discusses the impact these measures will have on the Exchequer. The measures consist of a package that will cost roughly €3 billion covering a Social Welfare package, funding for the HSE and supports for businesses.

UK


COVID-19 – advice and supports for businesses and employers
The coronavirus crisis is a fast-moving global situation with many businesses, employers and employees across the UK affected. The UK Government, NI Assembly and HMRC are acting and have produced guidance for businesses and employers and employees setting out the various measures of support announced. We recommend you bookmark the relevant pages on GOV.UK on your web browser to ensure you’re getting the most up to date information as the situation evolves. HMRC has also announced a one-year delay in the commencement date for the IR35 off-payroll private sector rules.

General advice on the UK Government response is also available and includes helpful advice for different sectors.

Last week, the Chancellor announced further measures of support for businesses and employers. The coronavirus job retention scheme will pay 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, for an initial three-month period. This is in addition to the measures previously announced. Read our special newsletter from last Wednesday setting these out. 

 

In addition to the job retention scheme, the following measures were also announced:-  

  • VAT payments due between 20 March 20202 and 30 June 2020 are being deferred until the end of the current tax year 5 April 2021. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal; 

  • The second self-assessment income tax payment on account for 2020/21 which is due on 31 July 2020 is being deferred to January 2021. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period; and 

  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, launched at Budget, will now be interest free for twelve months. 

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. All UK businesses are eligible. 

Businesses will need to:  

  • designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation; and

  • submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal.  

HMRC will reimburse 80 per cent of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. We understand that HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement as any existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers. 

The NI Finance Minister announced measures last week including a three-month rates holiday for businesses as part of a £100 million package.

HMRC arrangements
Call HMRC’s dedicated helpline. HMRC has advised us that it has established a dedicated helpline set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs.
Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
HMRC has also stated that it will also waive late payment penalties and interest where a business experiences administrative difficulty contacting HMRC or paying taxes due to COVID-19.

Business measures
A package of measures to support businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19 has been announced since Budget day last week.

For employers and employees
Guidance on welfare and benefits has also been published directed at employees and their employers on areas such as sick pay due to COVID-19 and working from home.

Guidance for self-employed individuals
The guidance in this area covers anyone who must take time off to stay at home if they are suffering from the virus or to prevent its spread. Changes have therefore been made to how SSP and Universal Credit supports self-employed claimants.

Practice Consulting

Members in Practice dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak
Chartered Accountants in practice like everyone else, are rushing to keep up with the speed of the spread and impact of the COVID19 outbreak, in the knowledge that the worst is yet to come. Practising Accountants are key advisers to the business community, and never more so than now, when businesses are struggling to respond, and they turn to their accountants for help and reassurance. The challenge is to stay ahead of what is a very fast-moving situation and be in a position to give the best advice to clients.

Professional Standards (‘PSD’)
PSD recognises that regulatory compliance and associated issues may not currently be a high priority for firms.  Where firms are involved in specific regulatory or disciplinary processes, the Institute will work with you to find appropriate solutions and agree appropriate timelines for specific matters to be addressed.  We shall be adopting a reasonable and pragmatic approach to this.