As we find ourselves in the unprecedented situation of a Global pandemic, we know businesses and business leaders face a lot of uncertainty.  However as the situation evolves daily, in this time of flux, business implications are more certain, resiliency, agility, planning, empathy and preparedness are all important factors.

With our experts across tax, people and change, business and digital risk, compliance and restructuring, we have compiled information and advice on key areas of focus for you to help you manage the impacts of COVID-19 on your business.

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Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) tax liabilities – BIK Concession Update

Revenue have extended their Benefit in Kind (BIK) concession with respect to the payment of TWSS tax liabilities (income tax and USC) by employers on behalf of their employees, to the end of September 2021.  Revenue confirmed that this concession will also apply to payment of TWSS tax liabilities of employees who are self-assessed.  Proprietary directors will also be covered by the concession but only if the employer pays the TWSS tax liabilities of all employees in the company.

Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) Reconciliation Process – Stage 2

Stage two of the reconciliation process for the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) will begin in mid-March 2021. The reconciliation statements received by employers from Revenue will either agree or disagree with your claims and calculations. Employers will have until the end of June to respond.

Debt Warehouse Scheme for level 5 restrictions

The Debt Warehouse Scheme, the ability to defer or ‘park’ certain tax liabilities, continues to be available to businesses experiencing tax payment difficulties due to the impacts of COVID-19. 

Businesses can continue to warehouse current VAT and PAYE (Employer) liabilities and Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) overpayments arising from the COVID-19 crisis and the current level 5 public health restrictions. 

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) provides income support to eligible employers, with respect to employees on their payroll, where the business activities have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The EWSS is scheduled to continue in operation until 31 March 2021. 

Two key updates to the EWSS have been introduced for 2021.

Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) tax liabilities

Subsidy payments by Revenue to employers under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) and paid to employees are treated as part of the employees’ emoluments i.e. salary and wages, for tax purposes. The subsidy amount paid to employees via payroll was not subject to tax under the PAYE system however, the amount received by the employee is liable to income tax and Universal Social Charge (USC).  

The amount of income tax and USC due on the TWSS amount will be verified by Revenue on the employees’ Preliminary End of Year Statement for 2020.  This statement is expected to be available to every employee from 15 January 2021 via the Revenue’s MyAccount service. The statement will not be provided to employers. The Preliminary End of Year Statement is a preliminary calculation of the employee’s tax and USC for the year and is based on the information held on Revenue’s records. To receive a Statement of Liability an employee must complete an income tax return. 

In some cases, the income tax and USC arising on the TWSS payment may be covered by the employee’s unutilised tax credits and rate bands or by additional tax credits claimed for 2020. In other cases, the liabilities will be due to be paid to Revenue.

Businesses can now register for the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme

The Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (“CRSS”) is a targeted support for businesses significantly impacted by the Government’s Covid-19 public health restrictions. Registration for the scheme opened earlier this week and so far approximately 2,200 businesses have registered.

What is the CRSS and how can you qualify?

Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme is the new flat rate subsidy support for employers and is available since 1 July. This new scheme will replace the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme from 1 September, until then both schemes are in operation.  Employers who satisfy the qualifying criteria and who have eligible employees must apply for the scheme.  

July Stimulus Tax Measures

The government’s “July Jobs Stimulus” is a €7.4 billion package of measures aimed at supporting the Irish economy in response to the impacts of COVID-19. The package contains a suite of tax measures to the value of €1.4 billion, the balance going to expenditure, grants and credit supports. The Financial Provisions (Covid-19) (No.2) Bill 2020 (“the Bill”) provides the proposed legislation for the tax measures.

The Temporary Wage Subsidy scheme for NFP organisations

The Not for Profit sector has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and unfortunately this has changed the everyday running of the business and in some cases requiring assistance from Government supports. The temporary wage subsidy scheme was introduced to support businesses to retain the link between employers and employees during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The scheme was introduced on 26th March 2020 for an initial 12 week period. However, the Minister for Finance has now extended the scheme until the end of August 2020.

Planning your return to work strategy

The past 100-days or so have been unlike anything most of us have experienced in our working lives. Thankfully we are beginning to see light at the end of this tunnel, and although the virus is still with us, it seems to be much more under control. This is good news for the economy and the charity sector, as many businesses begin to prepare for the return to work, and aim to make up for lost productivity.

But as most business and not for profit sector leaders have already realised, it is much easier to shut an office down than to reopen it under these conditions. The key for a successful return to work is through careful planning, clear communications, and staff training.

Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme: Employer Compliance Check

Revenue have now commenced a review on compliance with the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (‘TWSS’). This means that Revenue are contacting employers who have received TWSS payments.

What this means for you?

Short- term Business Visitors: Updated Revenue Guidance

The Irish Revenue Commissioners have issued much welcomed guidance and clarifications in relation to short-term business visitors (“STBVs”) working in Ireland.  What are the key changes?

Back to better

Creating a return to work strategy and supporting organisations to adapt to the new normal.

As we assess the impact of the pandemic, leaders are looking to the future and making plans to get their people back to full capacity and prepare for a 'new normal'. This next phase is critical - do it well and you can positively influence the long-term performance of your organisation.

COVID-19 Supports for Employees

What support is available for employees affected by COVID-19?

COVID-19 Employer Supports

What support is available for employers affected by COVID-19?

COVID-19: Impact on the food industry in Ireland

We are delighted to present to you the findings of our recent survey into the impact of COVID 19 on the food industry in Ireland. At Grant Thornton we have identified the importance of the food industry to our economy and the role that the industry plays in maintaining employment and prosperity throughout the country. The food industry is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry, forming the backbone of many communities across Ireland, and employing 7.1% of the total workforce. The industry has grown steadily over the last decade, culminating in €13 billion of revenue from exports last year. The produce from the Irish food industry is enjoyed in over 180 countries worldwide. 

COVID-19 - Debt Warehousing Regime

New “warehousing” of deferred tax debts and interest suspension arrangements

In March, Revenue announced the suspension of debt collection and the charging of interest on late payment for the January/February and March/April VAT periods and February, March and April PAYE (Employer) liabilities for SME businesses. These arrangements are further extended to include May/June VAT and May and June PAYE (Employer) liabilities.

COVID–19: EMEA VAT specific measures

Due to the impact of COVID-19, many countries across the globe are offering various reliefs for paying and reporting VAT. Please find outlined below an update of measures in the EMEA region. As announcements are being made daily, this high level overview document will be updated regularly but we cannot guarantee completeness.

COVID-19: Workforce restructuring

As the economic impact of COVID-19 becomes clearer, many businesses may be faced with the prospect of restructuring their workforce to survive in the longer term. Our workforce restructuring services team are a group of professionals who specialise in employment taxes, pensions and reward.

Introduction of Temporary VAT measures

In the context of the current COVID-19 emergency, Revenue have published guidance (eBrief 77/20) on the zero rating of certain medical equipment and products and the impact for traders who supply or donate these goods. In addition, the VAT impact of supplying emergency accommodation is clarified.

COVID-19: Impairment triggers and valuation considerations

Due to challenges forecasting financial performance and changes to market related valuation inputs the current environment makes it difficult for companies to assess the potential impairment impact on their investments and assets.

The subjective nature of valuations becomes more complex when markets are volatile, and valuation benchmarks quickly go out of date.

Companies must be careful to produce an output that is meaningful and robust with defensible assumptions.

COVID-19: Wage Subsidy Scheme for Employers

See the full slides to get answers to the following questions:

  • What is the Covid 19 Wage Subsidy?
  • What is an Eligible Employer?
  • How do I apply for the scheme?
  • How is the scheme operated?
  • What records will Revenue require?
  • How do the calculations work in practice?

Navigating your business through COVID-19 - VAT and customs update

Given the unique situation facing the Irish economy as a result of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, a number of clarifications have been made and relieving measures introduced in relation to VAT, customs and international trade:

  • Temporary zero rating of supplies of personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical products;
  • Zero rated goods;
  • VAT deductibility entitlement;
  • Record-keeping and compliance;
  • Suspension of import VAT and customs duties on certain medical products;
  • VAT rate on emergency accommodation;
  • Customs and International Trade;
  • Customs Value Authorisations;
  • Restrictions on the exportation of medical equipment; and
  • Changes to Inward Processing/Customs Warehousing Procedure where products are re-exported.

COVID-19: adjusting to the ‘new normal’

As COVID-19 continues to impact the world of work, this article assesses how Operational Excellence and in particular Robotic Process automation (RPA) solutions might assist organisations now and into the future. This pandemic is attacking organisations’ people and placing their processes and technology under increased pressure. The questions businesses are asking themselves are how they can protect and maintain their workforce in conjunction with delivering service to their clients.

COVID-19: Update on expansion of business supports from SBCI and Enterprise Ireland

The Minister for Business, Heather Humphreys, has announced the introduction of additional funding to help businesses cope with the liquidity challenges posed by the COVID-19 restrictions, including:

  • Enterprise Ireland Business Financial Planning Grant;
  • Enterprise Ireland Sustaining Enterprise Fund (€180m);
  • SBCI Working Capital Loan (€450m available);
  • SBCI Future Growth Finance Loan (€200m available); and
  • Increased funding to Microfinance Ireland. 

COVID-19: Financial Reporting and Disclosures

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is spreading around the globe rapidly. The virus has taken its toll on not just human life, but businesses and financial markets too, the extent of which is currently indeterminate. Entities need to carefully consider the accounting implications of this situation.

This article identifies key financial reporting areas that entities need to consider when determining the impact on their business, and on the results, financial position and disclosures in their financial statements.

Reporting the impact of COVID-19 on your business

As the impact of a novel strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to unfold around the world, those individuals responsible for preparing financial statements and approving them for issue need to be cognisant of not only what has happened and is happening at the reporting date and the time the financial statements are approved, but also what is likely to happen next.

Here are ten questions entities should be asked to ensure that those financial statements not yet issued are presented fairly. These questions are by no means exhaustive, or indeed listed in any order of priority, because their applicability will depend on facts and circumstances.

How to reduce and defer your VAT liability

In light of the Government’s recent financial measures implemented for businesses, we have summarised below some practical steps businesses may take to improve VAT cash flow.

  1. Deferral of VAT liability and acceleration of VAT refunds
  2. Electronic VAT Refund (EVR) reclaims
  3. Bad debt relief
  4. Annual VAT recovery adjustment
  5. Basis of accounting for VAT
  6. Change your VAT reporting period
  7. Section 56 authorisation
  8. Charity compensation scheme

Early refunds of R&D tax credits

Revenue have announced that early payments are available for excess R&D tax credits that are due to be paid in 2020. This creates an opportunity for companies that are in an R&D tax credit refund position to file their 2019 corporation tax returns early.

In the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and subject to appropriate checks in selected cases, Revenue will expedite the payment of any instalments of excess R&D tax credit that are due to be paid in 2020, bringing forward payment in advance of the date provided by Section 766 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.

COVID-19 – Benefit-in-kind – Employer provided vehicles

This note sets out the Revenue approach to the tax treatment of benefit-in-kind arising on employer-provided vehicles during the period of the COVID-19 restrictions.

Navigating your business through COVID-19

Availing of a Business Continuity Voucher from your Local Enterprise Office

On 26 March 2020, the introduction of an additional support to businesses in the form of a Business Continuity Voucher was announced. The key features of this new Business Continuity Voucher are outlined below.

Summary of packages and supports available through Enterprise Ireland

The disruption that COVID-19 is causing to all businesses is immense, and we therefore welcome the packages and supports offered by Enterprise Ireland to assist larger companies in transitioning through the immediate and critical challenges that COVID-19 inevitably presents.

VAT and Relevant Contracts Tax (“RCT”) in light of current landscape

Given the unprecedented situation facing taxpayers and the Irish economy as a result of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the Irish Revenue Commissioners (“Revenue”) has been required to consider how it can assist taxpayers, and their agents, that are inevitably experiencing difficulties caused by the impacts of the COVID-19 virus. This also follows advice from the EU Commission suggesting that countries provide VAT payment delays and act in unison where possible.

Managing & working remotely during COVID-19

Areas of Focus, Tips and Solutions for managers & employees while working remotely, including:

  • Productivity
  • Motivation
  • Culture
  • Isolation
  • Training and Development
  • Performance management
  • Agile ways of working
  • Capacity

Wage Subsidy Scheme – FAQs for Employers

How is the scheme operated through payroll?

How do employers register for the scheme?

What if i am already registered employer covid-19 refund scheme?

How does the subsidy scheme differ from the employer refund scheme?

How is the eligibility for the scheme determined?

Am i expected to provide proof of eligibility on application for the scheme?

What if my turnover has decreased by 25% or more but the company has strong cash reserves?

Can i still qualify if my employees have already been temporarily laid off?

When does the scheme apply from and how long will the scheme last for?

What is the position if the company operates two trades, for example retail and contracting, and only one trade is impacted by covid-19 (i.e. the retail trade) and the overall company turnover does not fall by 25%?

Is it possible that a company, who could be deemed an essential business, could avail of a more relaxed revenue approach in relation to the wage subsidy scheme? The issue the company will face is not a reduction in turnover, but a slowdown in collecting debtors from their customers.

Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs

On 24 March 2020, the Government announced measures to provide financial support to workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

A key measure announced was the Wage Subsidy Scheme. This scheme is to be operated by Irish Revenue through the normal payroll of employers.

This note sets out the Revenue approach to confirming employer eligibility and examination of supporting proofs. The scheme is a significant investment by Government in supporting both employers and employees through a subsidy that will be paid in real-time, through payroll.

COVID-19: Irish global mobility and employment tax changes

The Irish Revenue Commissioners have issued very welcome guidance on a range of global mobility and employment tax issues which provide clarity to employers on these areas during this challenging time. The guidance provides for a number of concessions for the purposes of claiming payroll tax reliefs and exemptions and also provides for a number of extensions to reporting deadlines. Records should be maintained by employers outlining the circumstances of COVID-19 restrictions and have them  available to Revenue on request.

COVID-19 pandemic unemployment payment

Who is it available to?

  • Employees who have lost their jobs, and
  • Self-employed individuals who have had to cease trading, due to the crisis.  

Such individuals will receive an enhanced emergency COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 per week (an increase from €203).

COVID-19 wage subsidy

How will the income support work?

Eligible employers?

Scheme duration

How will the scheme operate?

How do employers register for the scheme?

 

Virtual Project Management through COVID-19

Every day brings its own challenges to project teams, overnight Covid-19 has introduced substantial implications to businesses projects right across the globe. Colleagues that were sitting next to one another in the office environment are suddenly dispersed geographically and businesses are having to get to grips with the rapid shift in business operations if they want to survive.

One positive is that our project managers of today should, to an extent, be well placed to deal with the current circumstances we find ourselves in. We as professionals live in an increasingly virtual world, resulting in the need to upgrade our knowledge and skillset to lead virtual projects. Over the last number of years, the rise of the Internet and development of collaborative software tools have introduced a new dimension into project management.

While some of us may be used to working virtually and having team members remotely located, for many this situation is likely to be very different. The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced uncertain challenges for all project managers, underlining the need for agility, flexibility and change readiness.

COVID-19 Key considerations for your business

This morning we hosted a webinar which looked at COVID-19 and the key considerations for your business. The topics discussed include:

  • Working capital management and optimisation;
  • Covid 19 employment law and other related legal considerations;
  • Employee engagement and maintaining a high performance culture;
  • Global macroeconomic implications and remaining potential investment opportunities; and
  • Covid 19 Key tax considerations.

Tax resilience amid global disruption

The spread of COVID-19 is disrupting businesses around the globe. As the crisis continues, businesses need to be agile in managing the tax effects on their business. While tax filings and payments may already be front of mind, other international tax areas require consideration.

Multiple sectors have been impacted with some businesses completely side-lined due to widespread labour and supply chain interruptions. The credit markets are only beginning to see the effects of cash strained borrowers struggling to meet their obligations. Consumer demand has all but evaporated as countries continue to encourage limited interaction to control the spread of the virus. Unemployment is sharply increasing in many places with governments stepping in, and in some cases guaranteeing incomes.

Revenue update guidelines around e-working

The Revenue have updated their guidelines on e-working and the treatment of associated expenses.  The updates are limited and broadly in line with previous guidance on e-working but do provide some clarity around what is considered e-working for “substantial periods” and the availability of the reliefs in the current environment. This relates to the concept of e-workers/home workers. 

E-working is the method of working using information and communication technologies where an employee’s work is carried out independent of location.

The Grant Thornton Resilience Wheel Framework

The economic consequences of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on future trading assumptions, and the direct impact on many companies in the leisure, travel and consumer sectors already, will place some companies under liquidity pressures and potential covenant breaches from their debt facilities.

The Grant Thornton Resilience Wheel is a framework designed to help you have ‘initial’ high level ‘supportive’ conversations within your boardroom as a result of stressed/distressed operating conditions.

The Technology response to COVID-19

The changes triggered by the COVID crisis, mean that regardless of how companies viewed or prepared for remote working, they must now get to grip with it quickly. In a world that requires isolation, we are reliant on digital tools to connect us and transform our ways of working at a rate that is unprecedented. We can speculate that the pandemic will have lasting changes to the way we work – the crisis acting as a catalyst to the types of changes to our internal capability delivery models that global trends have been threatening for some time – but in the face of the immediate concerns of business continuity, the challenge now is to survive.

COVID 19: Enhanced Illness Benefit Payment

When a worker is told to self-isolate by a doctor or has been diagnosed with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) by a doctor, they can apply for an enhanced Illness Benefit payment of €305 per week.

To be eligible for this payment a person must be confined to their home or a medical facility.

 

COVID-19 Cyber in a Pandemic

Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the COVID-19 panic, targeting individuals, corporations, governments and industries in Ireland and around the globe.

Phishing campaigns in multiple languages suggesting a COVID-19 cure, linking to fake World Health Organisation advice websites and offering up guides as attachments are all designed to separate users from their usernames and passowrds, capture personal and sensitive information and deny users access to their systems.

This should not come as a surprise. Cyber criminals will use any issue to extort for their own gain, and COVID-19 is no exception – a lure to compromise victim’s computers due to the confusion, urgency, misinformation and a personal connection for all – it’s a criminal’s gold mine.

As organisations rush to shift their businesses and workforce online with a heavy reliance on working from home, cybercriminals are ramping up their tactics to take advantage of those who may have inadequate or naive security postures as a result.

If you’re enacting or broadening your remote working policies, we encourage you to consider these steps.

COVID-19: Data Protection

While the coronavirus outbreak is spreading throughout Europe, many public and private organisations are taking measures to contain the virus by allowing the staff to work from home (where possible), or by asking staff to communicate to their Human Resource contact if they have any Covid-19 symptoms, if they have been tested positive/negative for Covid-19, or staff are asked to fill in a form to declare if they travelled to/from specific areas, if they have been in contact with people affected by the virus, and what is their health status at the moment.

In performing these actions, companies are collecting special categories of personal data (e.g. health data) from their employees, which under the GDPR need special protections; hence, data controllers must ensure the protection of the personal data of the data subjects.

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) issued a guidance to help companies understand how to balance between protecting employee’s privacy and allow for the provision of healthcare and the management of public health.

Revenue Measures to Support SME Clients

Revenue has provided the following updated advice which will further assist SME businesses that are experiencing trading difficulties caused by the impacts of COVID-19.

SME businesses are those with turnover under €3M. For non-SME businesses Revenue recommend contacting your local district who can deal with taxpayers on a 1-1 basis.

COVID-19: The Importance of Strategic Workforce Planning

Covid-19 is taking the world by storm, bringing more panic and hysteria with each case that gets announced. Although some may argue that the situation is being over-dramatised, it is something that has and will affect everyone over the coming weeks and months. Businesses have the worry of whether staff will remain healthy, whether they will be able to continue to work, and overall, whether the business can continue to operate. Since the first case hit Ireland just three weeks ago, business have had to consider contingency plans for the very likely scenario of their staff not being able to travel to work.

Managing mobility in the face of coronavirus

Across the globe, the spread of the coronavirus is having a significant humanitarian impact and increasingly, an economic impact from stock markets to global supply chains. As governments move rapidly to contain the spread of the virus, global employers are also working to address how to manage employees in affected areas while continuing business operations.

Read more

Cross border businesses

If your business is operating cross border please refer to our Northern Ireland COVID-19 response page.

The Global Perspective

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to shake markets and impact people around the world, it's creating significant challenges for business leaders.  

So what steps can you take now? In this hub, we have brought together advice from across our global network to support businesses in their response. We encourage business leaders to refer to their own national government, legal and health guidance.