Tax Practice members survey – thank you for taking part

Oct 12, 2020

Over 320 members took part in a survey through tax news last week. The results of the survey highlight the stark reality facing members and their clients navigating through public health guidelines over the past eight months. The results emphasise the level of support that businesses need from their accountant in claiming COVID-19 Government initiatives, such as the wage subsidy schemes. A heavy workload and the challenges of working under restricted public health guidelines have placed members in practice under enormous pressure. The results of this survey informed the decision of Chartered Accountants Ireland to write to 220 TDs and Senators last week. The results of the survey were also reported in the Sunday Independent yesterday. 

The survey shows the extreme pressure that small practices are under. In relation to wage subsidy schemes, 98 percent of those surveyed had supported clients in making their claims, with 92 percent of those considering the level of support required by clients in accessing the schemes to be significant. Several respondents noted that the number of updates to the TWSS, along with supporting employers in their communications to employees on how subsidy payments will be taxed have taken up significant amounts of their time. The turnaround time of five days for a response to a TWSS compliance check letter is too short. These issues coupled with the difficulties of working within the restrictions of public health guidelines are contributing to significant number of members in practice working weeks, if not months, behind their normal workflow scheduling in the lead up to upcoming deadlines. The biggest reason for workload pressures was considered to relate to time spent advising clients on the wage subsidies by 46 percent of those surveyed, while 40 percent attribute the workload pressure to time lost due to the national lockdown from March to May.

On interactions with Revenue, 78 percent of those surveyed consider it to be more difficult to contact Revenue through their general phonelines compared to this time last year. Similarly, 68 percent found that their experience of contacting Revenue caseworkers by phone has been more difficult than this time last year. While an improvement in having queries resolved through MyEnquiries was experienced, with 48 percent having a better experience than this time last year. The experience of the volume of information requests and aspect queries, excluding TWSS compliance check letters, was considered to be less than this time last year by 40 percent of those surveyed. The volume of Revenue audits was considered to be less than this time last year by 69 percent.

Worryingly, many of those surveyed expect that their clients will be unable to pay income tax falling due this self-assessment tax deadline.

The reduced rate of interest on non-COVID-19 tax debts does not extend to income tax liabilities falling due on or after 31 October. Revenue previously confirmed that a reduced interest rate PPA would be available for a 2019 income tax liability, where preliminary tax was underpaid in 2019.