Ireland Department of Finance issued a release on 4 March 2022 announcing the publication of Finance (Covid-19 and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2022. The bill gives legislative effect to the extension of certain Covid support schemes that are being implemented on an administrative basis until the bill is formally passed.
Minister Donohoe publishes Finance (Covid-19 and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2022
The Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD, has today (Friday) published the Finance (Covid-19 and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2022 following approval from Government at the Cabinet meeting on 1 March. The Bill will give legislative effect to the changes to the Covid support schemes, announced by the Government, in response to the public health restrictions, introduced from 21 December 2021 into January 2022. These include changes to, and extension of:
These measures are being implemented by the Revenue Commissioners on an administrative basis, pending this bill.
A small number of other changes in the taxation and financial areas are also included in the Bill.
The Minister said
"I welcome the publication of this legislation today and I look forward to discussing it in the Oireachtas as soon as possible. The Bill provides the legislative basis for the extended and increased supports announced by the Government when public health restrictions were introduced in December as well as supports announced in January as businesses re-opened. These supports have been vitally important to businesses throughout the pandemic and it is important that the necessary legislation is put in place as soon as possible. I have also taken the opportunity to address a small number of other measures in this Bill such as, providing that the Pandemic Recognition Payment will be tax-free as agreed by Government, stamp duty changes to provide for a partial repayment scheme for properties designated as cost rental dwellings, the tax treatment of payments made under the proposed Brexit Whitefish Fleet Decommissioning Scheme being introduced by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and funding of certain Central Bank registers required as part of the transposition of EU anti-money laundering Directives."
The EWSS has played a central role in supporting businesses, encouraging employment and helping to maintain the link between employers and employees.
The Bill provides for the reopening of EWSS for certain businesses who would otherwise not be eligible and that such businesses can continue to be supported until the expiry of the scheme. Subject to meeting certain conditions, employers who previously availed of EWSS but who were no longer eligible could re-enter the scheme and receive support from 1 January 2022 until the scheme ends.
It also provides that businesses availing of EWSS that were directly impacted by the public health regulations introduced last December, will receive additional support under the scheme for a further month to assist those businesses as they fully reopen and emerge from the restrictions. The relevant public health regulations imposed an 8pm closing time on hospitality venues, including restaurants, bars and cafes, and reduced capacity on many indoor events, thus directly curtailing the ability of the businesses to trade.
Businesses that were impacted by these public health restrictions continued to receive the enhanced rates of subsidy for the month of February and the graduated step-down in subsidy rates, will be delayed by one month with such firms continuing to receive support under the scheme until 31 May 2022.
From 1 February 2022, most businesses, moved to the reduced rate of support of €203 per employee, followed by the flat rate subsidy of €100 per employee for the final two months the scheme of March and April 2022.
The overall support provided to-date (3 March) by EWSS is over €7.60 billion, comprising direct subsidy payments of €6.57 billion and PRSI forgone of €1.03 billion to 51,900 employers in respect of over 719,900 employees.
The CRSS has also provided much needed support to businesses forced to close or restrict access to their premises under public health restrictions.
The Bill provides that the turnover reduction criteria will be increased from no more than 25% of 2019 turnover to no more than 40% of 2019 turnover.
The CRSS will also be available to newer businesses established during the period 13 October 2020 to 26 July 2021 where eligibility criteria are met. Turnover for these businesses will be based on their average weekly turnover from the date of commencement up to 1 August 2021.
In addition, certain charities and sporting bodies who carry on similar trading activities to businesses are eligible to apply for CRSS for the most recent period of restrictions, December 2021 to January 2022.
Eligible businesses who reopened in January are eligible to claim a single restart week payment to assist them with the costs of reopening.
The CRSS scheme ended on 31 January and €727 million has been paid in respect of 25,600 premises under the scheme, including over €22.6 million in payments to businesses directly impacted by the latest public health restrictions in place in the December /January period.
Excise duty waiver
The Bill will implement the Government Decision of 21 January to waive the excise duty, associated with court fees, in respect of applications for Special Exemption Orders until 30 April 2022. The Courts have been applying the waiver on an administrative basis pending the enactment of the Bill.
Tax Debt warehousing
The Bill provides legislative underpinning for the Government decision of 21 January that the period where tax liabilities arising can be warehoused would be extended to 30 April 2022 for all taxpayers eligible for the Covid-19 support schemes.
This will allow businesses who have been most impacted some additional time to recover before their tax liabilities have to be paid. Their period of zero interest will therefore commence from 1 May 2022 until 30 April 2023, with interest at the reduced rate of 3% p.a. payable thereafter until the debt is paid down.
Almost 105,000 individual businesses are availing of Debt Warehousing with a total of €3.2 billion warehoused.
Tax Debt Warehousing (list of eligible schemes)
The Bill provides that the period where tax liabilities arising can be warehoused would be extended to 30 April 2022 for all taxpayers eligible for the Covid-19 support schemes. The relevant schemes are listed in the legislation as follows:
In addition, the list includes:
the following schemes announced by the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media on 8 December 2022—
the following schemes operated by Tourism Ireland—
the following schemes operated by Enterprise Ireland—
the following schemes operated by the Department of Transport--
If a taxpayer is in receipt of another Government support scheme which is not listed above, the taxpayer can apply to Revenue for the warehousing extension and give details of the scheme. If Revenue considers the scheme is along the same lines as the above schemes, involving a non-refundable Covid-19-related financial support, Revenue will grant the extension and add the scheme by order to the list of Covid-19 support schemes for the purposes of eligibility for extended tax debt warehousing.
Additional financial items in Bill
Stamp Duty – Properties designated as cost rental dwellings
The Bill provides for a partial repayment of stamp duty charged at the higher 10% rate for residential properties that are designated by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage as "cost rental dwellings" subsequent to being acquired. This will support the delivery of social and affordable housing in the State.
Tax treatment of payments made under the proposed voluntary Brexit Whitefish Fleet Decommissioning Scheme
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine received the final Report of the Seafood Task Force – Navigating Change – The way forward for our Seafood Sector in the wake of the EU/UK Trade & Cooperation Agreement in October 2021. In line with the recommendations of the report the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has proposed compensating fishers to voluntarily decommission fishing vessels in order to rebalance and maintain sustainability of the Irish fishing fleet in light of transfers of quota shares to the UK under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the EU and UK that has a significant negative impact on the fishing opportunities available to the Irish fleet. The Bill will provide for the tax treatment of payments made under the Scheme.
Central Bank Registers
The Bill makes provision for the funding of the Central Bank Central Mechanism for Information on Safe-Deposit Boxes and Bank and Payment Account and in the operation of the Register of Beneficial Ownership of Certain Financial Vehicles which are required as part of the transposition of EU anti-money laundering Directives.