Revenue publishes guidelines for new Wage Subsidy Scheme

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The Revenue Commissioners have issued advice that businesses must have tax clearance in order to qualify for the new Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme.

The EWSS will replace the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, which was created to help businesses keep staff on the payroll during the pandemic, from September 1.

The EWSS provides a flat-rate subsidy to qualifying employers based on the numbers of paid and eligible employees on their payroll.

This differs from the TWSS which makes a payment to eligible employees via their employers.

This week the Revenue has published guidelines on the eligibility criteria and supporting proofs needed to the new Wage Subsidy Scheme.

To qualify, employers must be able to show that their business will suffer a 30% decline in turnover between July 1 and December 31, and that this is due to COVID-19.

“Additionally, and unlike TWSS, the employer must have tax clearance to be eligible to join the EWSS and remain tax clear to continue receiving the EWSS benefits,” said Collector-General, Joe Howley.

Tax Clearance is confirmation from the Revenue that the tax affairs of the relevant business are in order.

To qualify, the business and any persons or entities connected to the business must be compliant with all obligations under tax legislation in relation to the filing of tax returns and payment of taxes.

Generally this is only needed to renew certain licences, or to receive certain grant funding, leading to many businesses never to apply for tax clearance.

Of the employers currently registered for the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, the Revenue says that roughly 16,000 do not currently have tax clearance, and may never have had it.

Mr Howley urged any employer who meets the qualifying criteria and intends to avail of the EWSS to immediately apply for tax clearance so that they can have the confidence of knowing that they will be able to receive the EWSS support from September:

This can be done “quickly and easily” through the Revenue’s eTax clearance service online, Howley said, with the application confirmed on screen in real time.

If your application is not successful, the reasons for it will also be outlined, enabling businesses to correct the issue and reapply.

“Once you have filed all tax returns that are due, any Covid-19 related tax debts will be parked under the Covid-19 debt warehousing scheme.”

“Additionally and importantly, if you are not in a position to pay older, non-Covid-19 tax debts, you can still obtain tax clearance if you enter a phased payment arrangement.”

The full Revenue guidelines outlining the eligibility criteria and supporting proofs needed for the EWSS can be found online here.