A plan by Revenue to contact all 55,500 employers availing of the Covid-19 wage-support scheme has been branded as “unhelpful” at a time when Irish businesses are struggling to get back to work.
The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, or TWSS, currently supports the wages of 410,000 workers at a cost since it came into operation in late March of almost €1.6bn.
It is one of two main Government schemes along with the Pandemic Unemployment Payment designed to keep firms from going under and to prevent a slide into mass unemployment during the crisis.
The scheme which was set up on the basis that a company would self-assess its eligibility after suffering a significant drop in turnover or orders to the ned of June.
It effectively meant that the part of the Revenue turned from collecting personal, corporate and transaction taxes into delivering grants to employers to subsidise the wages bill during the pandemic.
Revenue said with the extension of the scheme to the end of August meant it was an ideal time for it to conduct an assurance assessment that companies were complying with the terms of the scheme.
“Revenue will very shortly be contacting these employers to confirm that the scheme is operating correctly and will seek certain documentary evidence to establish that employers participating in the scheme meet the eligibility criteria; employees are receiving the correct amount of subsidy, and the subsidy amount is being correctly identified in employee payslips,” it said.
“Revenue expects that these contacts will confirm that the vast majority of employers are fully compliant in their operation of the TWSS,” it said.
There was no change in its plans to publish the list of companies availing of the TWSS only when the programme ends, Revenue said.
However, Chartered Accountants Ireland said the “blanket enquiries” by Revenue will add to the stress of struggling businesses.
“Carrying out blanket enquiries of this nature the very week that so many businesses are trying to reopen signals an indifference to the plight of many businesses," said Norah Collender, professional tax leader at Chartered Accountants Ireland.
"We are calling on Revenue to defer any compliance interventions until the autumn,” she said.
She said the move was "very unhelpful to Irish industry which already has so much to deal with".