Donohoe 'missing the point' on Stay and Spend amid calls for change

Launched as part of last July’s stimulus package and valued at €270m, the scheme is aimed at getting people to spend more on domestic tourism and hospitality
Donohoe 'missing the point' on Stay and Spend amid calls for change

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is currently reviewing a possible extension of the scheme beyond the end of April. File photo

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is “missing the point” by excluding closed restaurants that are having to rely on takeaway services to generate income from the Government’s heavily criticised Stay and Spend scheme, tax experts have said.

Launched as part of last July’s stimulus package and valued at €270m, the scheme is aimed at getting people to spend more on domestic tourism and hospitality. It allows for customers to spend up to €625 in restaurants and hotels and reclaim the money through a tax credit from Revenue.

However, due to lockdown restrictions, the scheme has effectively been mothballed with only €1.6m claimed back, to date.

Minister Donohoe is currently reviewing a possible extension of the scheme beyond the end of April. This has been welcomed, but a wholesale overhaul of the project is also been urged.

Tax return consultant Taxback.com wants the Minister to reconsider his views on restaurants. Mr Donohoe said that takeaway food and drink outlets are unlikely to be as badly affected by restrictions as dine-in restaurants, so don’t qualify for the scheme.

This was in direct response to Taxback asking if Stay and Spend will be extended to include traditional restaurants which have had to close and change to offering a takeaway service only.

“The fact is, many restaurants, that have never before offered dine-out services, have had to pivot their offering over the last 12 months simply to keep their doors open, staff employed, and heads above water," said Taxback's consumer tax manager Marian Ryan.

The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation wants Stay and Spend relaunched as a voucher scheme and broadened to include visitor attractions and activity breaks rather than solely restaurants and hotels. ITIC also wants the scheme’s lifetime extended for the duration of 2021 at least.

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