With new measures being announced almost daily and changes to current schemes, it can be difficult to digest it all. 

The Government has been pro-active in implementing measures both for public health and the economy.

Whilst public health remains our priority at this stage, it’s only natural we all think about our economic health and how we could be affected in the long term.

As of yesterday, 24th March 2020, the Government issued new economic measures to assist us. I’ve been going through the ones most relevant to our clients and outlined them below.

Do bear in mind the information is coming out quickly, so we are constantly reviewing and will give you updates as we know more!

Department of Social Protection

  • Increase in the Pandemic Unemployment Payment to €350 per week. This payment is eligible for Employees, Self-employed, Contractors, Freelancers.
  • Increase in the payment period from 6 weeks to 12 weeks
  • COVID-19 Illness Benefit to increase to €350, and to be also paid to anybody in household who are asked to self-isolate
  • A payment subsidy for employers who top up the payment up to a maximum of €410 per week or 70% of wages for those earning up to €38,000 per annum. Those earning between €38,000 and €76,000 the amount will be capped at €350 per week.

Am I eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Payment?

If your contract has ceased or been temporarily paused, then you are entitled to the payment.

How do I receive payment?

You can apply directly online through MyGovID.ie - The process is straightforward and only takes about 10 minutes.

As a self-employed Contractor can I avail of the Income Support Scheme?

It seems the self-employed may not avail of this, they can only avail of the Pandemic payment. It will not be possible to give yourself an uplift to €410 per week to subsidise your earnings. However, this may change over the coming days. If you employ staff, you may be able to utilise this.

Can I get paid the Pandemic Unemployment Payment through my Limited Company?

It seems that the Pandemic unemployment payment cannot be processed through Payroll. Based on the information that came out yesterday the answer is no, the self-employed and employees who were temporarily or permanently laid off must apply directly to the Department. We are currently trying to get clarification from Revenue and Social Welfare on this to see if it is possible so we can get money to our contractors quicker via their limited company. With last week’s measure it was possible to do this, but they have now changed the scheme.

Should I apply for Jobseekers Benefit?

The Pandemic Unemployment payment only lasts for 12 weeks, so we would advise that you apply for jobseekers benefit at the same time as you apply for Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

Am I entitled to COVID-19 Illness Payment?

  • You must self-isolating on the instruction of a doctor or diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Be absent from work and confined to your home or medical facility

How do I apply?

  • You can call 1890 800 024 or 01 2481398 between 9.00am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday to get an application form by post
  • Organise someone to pick up a form at your doctor’s surgery or at your local Intreo Centre
  • You can request a form to be posted to you by sending an email to forms@revenue.ie
  • We expect an online form to be available this week
  • To help, Icon Accounting have set up an email address to deal with the queries socialwelfare@iconaccounting.ie . If you have been affected, please contact us and we will advise you as best we can.

Revenue Commissioners Updates

The Revenue have also issued an update in relation to COVID-19. I have outlined relevant points for Contractors below.

  • All audits and compliance interventions on a taxpayer’s premises have been cancelled until further notice, Revenue may issue queries through MyEnquiries but we don’t expect them to enforce any deadlines.
  • Filing Tax Returns: Revenue are asking that all tax returns are filed even where payment of liability is not possible. Where due to the virus it is not possible for the personnel to file, Revenue advise you file the return on “best estimate” basis.
  • Interest penalties and surcharges will not apply for late filing of returns.
  • All debt enforcement activity has been suspended
  • Residence Rules – Force Majeur: Where a person is prevented from leaving the state due to an extraordinary natural occurrence, the individual will not be regarded as being present in the state if it adversely affects their tax residency.
  • Tax treatment of holiday/flights. Where an employee is an integral part of the business the cost of bringing that employee home from abroad will be an allowable business expense.
  • Payment of taxi fares: if an individual needs to be transported to work from home due to health and safety concerns, then the vouched costs of the taxis would be allowable.
  • All extra home office furniture and computer equipment required to work from home is fully allowable
  • An e-worker allowance of €3.20 per day may be claimed for working from home, however it cannot be claimed in conjunction with % of your broadband/utilities that you claim for home office. It is either one or the other.   

For further information on any expense claims, contact your dedicated Account Manager.

Update Agency/Client Companies

The Contractor market seems to be fairly robust at the moment despite the crisis.

Whilst some contracts have been paused and some terminated, we havent seen a huge outflow of terminations. We have also seen a steady flow of enquiries and individuals starting new contracts.

A lot of agencies and end clients are conducting Zoom interviews. It is the early stages of the crisis but lets hope we can keep as many Contractors in work as possible via remote working.  

If your contract has been terminated, we would be happy to share your details with any of the agency contacts that we have.

We will continue to keep you updated via social media, newsletters and via our website as things happen.

Finally, we hope that you and your family are keeping safe during this time.

Gerard Kiernan

Author

Gerard Kiernan

Director

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