Increased Size Thresholds to Assist Irish SMEs with Audit & Reporting Requirements

The European Union (Adjustments of Size Criteria for Certain Companies and Groups) Regulations 2024 were signed into law, increasing the balance sheet and turnover thresholds for “micro”, “small”, “medium” and “large” companies and groups under the Companies Act 2014 by 25% to account for inflation.

This change means more Irish companies will move into the micro and small categories and may benefit from abridged reporting and audit exemption. It will also reduce regulatory and administrative burden.

The changes may also result in companies falling outside the scope of reporting obligations imposed under the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).

The new thresholds are as follows:

Micro Company thresholds:

  • Balance sheet total not exceeding €450,000 – (previously €350,000)
  • Turnover not exceeding €900,000 – (previously €700,000)
  • Average number of employees does not exceed 10 – (unchanged)

Small Company thresholds:

  • Balance sheet total not exceeding €7.5 million – (previously €6 million)
  • Turnover not exceeding €15 million – (previously €12 million)
  • Average number of employees does not exceed 50 – (unchanged)

Small Group thresholds:

  • Group balance sheet total not exceeding €7.5 million net or €9 million gross – (previously €6 million net or €7.2 million gross)
  • Group turnover not exceeding €15 million net or €18 million gross – (previously €12 million net or €14.4 million gross )
  • Average number of Group employees does not exceed 50 – (unchanged)

Medium Company thresholds:

  • Balance sheet total not exceeding €25 million – (previously €20 million)
  • Turnover not exceeding €50 million – (previously €40 million)
  • Average number of employees does not exceed 250 – (unchanged)

Medium Group thresholds:

  • Group balance sheet total not exceeding €25 million net or €30 million gross – (previously €20 million net or €24 million gross)
  • Group turnover not exceeding €50 million net or €60 million gross – (previously €40 million net or €48 million gross)
  • Average number of Group employees does not exceed 250 – (unchanged)

Large Company and Group thresholds:

  • Exceeds the thresholds for a Medium Company or Group as outlined above.

These new thresholds are effective from 1 July 2024 and will apply for financial years commencing 1 January 2024, enabling companies to benefit immediately. Companies also have the option to elect to apply the new thresholds for any financial year commencing on / after 1 January 2023.

If you have further queries on what this means for your business, please contact us.

Increased Cost of Business Grant

As part of Budget 2024, the government signed off on a package of €257 million for the Increased Cost of Business (ICOB) Grant to support small and medium sized businesses. It is intended to contribute towards the risings costs faced by businesses. However, it is not a Commercial Rates waiver; businesses are still required to pay rates to their local authority.

What is the grant amount?

The grant amount is based on the value of the Commercial Rates bill received by an eligible business in 2023.

  1. For qualifying businesses with a 2023 Commercial Rate bill of less than €10,000, the ICOB grant will be paid at a rate of 50% of the business’s Commercial Rate bill for 2023.
  2. For qualifying businesses with a 2023 Commercial Rate bill of between €10,000 and €30,000, the ICOB grant will be €5,000.
  3. Businesses with a 2023 Commercial Rates bill of greater than €30,000 are not eligible to receive an ICOB grant.

Who is eligible for the ICOB Grant?

The following are the main qualifying criteria:

  • Commercial Rates Bill must be equal to or less than €30,000 in 2023.
  • Business must currently operate from a property that is commercially rateable.
  • Business must have been trading on 1 February 2024, and intend to continue trading for at least three months.
  • Business must be rates compliant, (businesses with approved performing payment plans may be deemed compliant).
  • Business must be tax compliant and possess a valid Tax Registration Number (TRN).
  • Business must provide confirmation of bank details.
  • If your business operated from a property subject to a Property Entry Levy (PEL) in 2023, you are eligible to receive the grant based on the annualised (grossed-up) value of the PEL bill issued for that property.

Who is not eligible for the ICOB Grant?

  • Public institutions and financial institutions (with exceptions for Credit Unions and specific post office services, excluding Company Post Offices).
  • Vacant properties.

How can I apply?

Businesses are encouraged to use the ICOB portal.

The closing date for businesses to confirm eligibility and to upload verification details will be 1 May 2024. Payments will commence in late April 2024.

If you require assistance with your application for this grant, please contact Carol Hartnett from our Accounting & Financial Advisory Department.

Central Government Accounting Standards – What You Need to Know

From January 1st, new Central Government Accounting Standards (CGAS) will see significant reform of financial reporting for all Government Departments and Offices of Government. These new standards, being based on the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) generally favoured by the European Commission, aim to modernise financial reporting in Ireland along lines proposed by successive IMF and OECD reports.

The CGAS will change how public sector Vote accounts are to be prepared, requiring that financial statements also include information prepared on an accruals basis in the Statement of Financial Position. This article will run through the key changes imposed by the CGAS and explain the principles behind these.

Requirements

The CGAS coming into effect from January 1st are envisioned as a stage in a wider process of reform of financial reporting in Ireland. For the moment, the CGAS and their requirements apply to the following bodies:

  • All Departments and Offices of Government
  • The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission
  • The National Training Fund
  • The Social Insurance Fund

For these bodies, the CGAS imposes requirements as to how their Statements of Financial Position are presented. Specifically, they are now required to account for all of the following in their Statements:

  • Property, Plant and Equipment
  • Intangible Assets
  • Impairment of Non-Cash Generating Assets
  • Impairment of Cash Generating Assets
  • Service Concession Arrangements
  • Inventory
  • Leases
  • Provisions, Contingent Liabilities, Contingent Assets
  • Short-Term Employee Benefits

For each of these areas, a relevant CGAS detailing the exact requirements has been prepared by the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform. In addition, each of the CGAS has been provided with a manual, or Central Government Accounting Manual (CGAM). These manuals provide guidance on how the CGAS should be implemented and are a support for Finance Officers working to bring their organisation into line with the CGAS.

Government documents relating to the CGAS have emphasised that all relevant bodies must ensure that the principle of materiality is observed in their financial reporting. As an accounting principle, materiality requires that financial statements include all information and items that relevant decision makers, such as investors, might consider to impact their activity. In other words, an organisation’s economic activity can be considered to be material if it might be of interest to any and all bodies which would view that organisation’s financial statements.

In principle, then, the CGAS are to replace a cash-based system of financial reporting with reporting carried out on an accruals basis. Under the CGAS, an organisation must record economic activity regardless of whether cash was exchanged or involved in that activity. For example, under the CGAS, contingent liabilities such as guarantees, where no cash exchange has yet occurred, have to be reported.

Transitions and Enforcement

As noted, the CGAS are being adopted as part of a modernisation of Irish financial reporting, with the aim of bringing Ireland into line with the majority of OECD and EU countries. Ultimately, this reform project will formalise accrual accounting financial reporting in Ireland. Given that this reform is to secure the international credibility of financial reporting in Ireland, Central Government guidance has emphasised the importance of compliance with the CGAS.

Where a relevant body is unable to comply fully with any of the CGAS, sanction for a temporary derogation should be secured from the Government Accounting Unit in the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform. This application should include a timeline for how the body will build its compliance with whatever elements of the CGAS it cannot currently meet. This sanction will have to be renewed on an annual basis; sanction received in 2024 will not apply in 2025, and so on. Where a Department or Office is non-compliant, this must be stated in their Statement of Accounting Policies and Principles in the Appropriation Accounts, as should whether any temporary derogation has been received.

It should be noted that as government reform of financial reporting is an ongoing project, future CGAS with new requirements are imminent. Continued monitoring of this area is recommended to ensure key reforms are not missed.

Contributors
                                                    

Vincent Teo | Partner & Head of Public Sector & Government Services

Vincent Teo
Partner & Head of Public Sector & Government Services

Dr. Conor Dowling | Research & Policy Executive | Risk Consulting

Dr. Conor Dowling
Research & Policy Executive
Risk Consulting

 

Ukraine Credit Guarantee Scheme

The Ukraine Credit Guarantee Scheme (UCGS) will provide €1.2 billion in more affordable funding to Irish businesses who have been impacted by the war in Ukraine.

Eligible borrowers will be able to access funds ranging from €10,000 to €1 million, capped at the greater of either 15% of their recent turnover or 50% of their annual energy expenditure. There is no personal guarantee or collateral required for loans up to €250,000.

Financing will be offered through a range of credit facilities, including term loans, working capital loans and overdrafts.

The scheme offers repayment terms of up to six years with discounted interest rates.

Who is eligible?

This funding is available to Irish SMEs, primary producers and small mid-caps (defined as businesses with up to 499 employees) who have been impacted by economic challenges arising from the war in Ukraine.

To be eligible for this scheme, operating costs must have risen by over 10% since 2020.

The scheme will be available up to the 31 December 2024 or until it has been fully subscribed.

How to apply?

Step 1: Apply for an Eligibility Code from the SBCI through their online hub.

Step 2: Provide this eligibility code to a participating finance provider to begin the credit application process.

If you require assistance with your application for this funding, please contact Carol Hartnett from our Accounting & Financial Advisory Department.

As you may be aware, the Charities (Amendment) Bill 2022 is with the Oireachtas to be passed into legislation. Upon the passing of this bill, this will bring significant changes to the Charities’ Act 2009.

The bill will make Charities SORP (FRS 102) mandatory for organisations who meet certain thresholds.

The proposed thresholds are as follows:

Charities SORP

The updated legislation will apply to all registered charities in Ireland. Please note the following:

  • There is an understanding that the exemption in place regarding educational bodies will remain, however university foundations will no longer be exempt.
  • It is also expected that a charity will be able to prepare in accordance with another industry wide recommended practice e.g. Housing SORP.

The Bill is expected to pass by the end of 2023 with the expected applicable dates to be accounting periods starting 01 January 2025. This will mean mandatory Charities SORP will be applicable for year ends 31 December 2025.

What steps should I take now?

  • As SORP will require two years of comparative figures with the breakdown of figures between restricted / unrestricted, you should ensure that from the 2024 accounting period, the information recorded in the accounts package is posted in line with SORP or presented in the SORP format in charities management accounts. This information will be essential for the annual audit.
  • A working should be prepared to ensure reserves are split between restricted and unrestricted as appropriate.
  • Ensure your current accounts package is adequate for the needs of Charities SORP postings.
  • Attend any webinars available over the coming months hosted to help you become familiar with the legislation and requirements.

While your organisation may be already preparing the financial statements in accordance with Charities SORP, you may need to review available resources to ensure FULL compliance is being met once Charities SORP is introduced.

Please contact Elaine Murphy, Assistant Manager in our Audit & Assurance department if you have any queries regarding the migration to SORP.

Disclaimer: The information contained above is accurate at the time of publication and as the Bill has not been fully published, the information is subject to final changes.

Public Sector Climate Action Mandate

In May of this year, the Government approved the updated 2023 Public Sector Climate Action Mandate (PSCAM). The Mandate, first introduced as part of the Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2021, sets out the goals Public Sector Bodies must achieve as part of the government’s overall strategy for reducing emissions. The newly updated Mandate is an expansion of the 2022 Mandate. New actions have been added and existing actions have been expanded. This article will talk through the updated Mandate, explain its purpose and describe the new requirements it presents.

What is the Mandate?

The CAP’s overall aim is to achieve a 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland by 2030. While the CAP acknowledges that the public sector is not the major driver of emissions, the Mandate has been introduced to facilitate the public sector in taking a leading role in reducing emissions. The Mandate must be followed for those bodies it applies to, but it should be noted that it does not apply to every public sector body. Local Authorities, Commercial Semi-State Agencies and Schools are all exempt from the Mandate. Size is also a consideration when adhering to the Mandate. The Mandate places greater responsibilities on government departments and also on organisations that consume over 50 GWh of energy per annum than it does on smaller bodies, which can fulfil the Mandate’s minimum requirements.

Status of the 2022 Mandate

For those public bodies the Mandate does apply to, many of the requirements found in the updated Mandate are unchanged from previous years. For instance, the requirement to establish and support Green Teams has not been altered. Furthermore, nothing has been removed from the Mandate. This means that any work completed to fulfil the previous Mandate remains valid. Any organisation still working on fulfilling the previous Mandate can continue to use the guides made available by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. We anticipate that updated guidelines will be made available for the new Mandate, however, no timeline for this is available so far.

Changes from the 2022 Mandate

For those who are subject to the Mandate, the following are the major changes to be aware of:

  • A new requirement has been added stating that senior management complete a climate action leadership training course in 2023.
  • The requirement that sustainability and emissions be addressed in the annual report has been amended. The annual report must now also address: a) efforts to implement the Mandate; b) compliance with Circular 1/2020 related to air travel emissions.
  • The requirement to review use of paper has been amended to include the need to eliminate paper-based processes and, where this is not possible, to use recycled paper as the default.
  • The requirement to achieve formal environmental certification has been amended with distinct requirements for organisations spending more or less than €2m per annum on energy.
  • A requirement to implement Green Public Procurement (GPP) has been added. This should be performed in line with the EPA Green Public Procurement Guidance.
  • The requirement to create bicycle friendly buildings has been amended to indicate that the priority should be to facilitate moving away from individual car use.
  • A new requirement to phase out the use of parking in buildings, without compromising on supports for those with physical mobility issues, has been added.
  • New recommendations for retrofitting large building have been added.
  • The requirement to procure zero-emission vehicles only has been amended to include a requirement that any procurement contracts a public sector body enters into should use zero emissions vehicles whenever possible.

Contributors
                                                    

Vincent Teo | Partner & Head of Public Sector & Government Services

Vincent Teo
Partner & Head of Public Sector & Government Services

Dr. Conor Dowling | Research & Policy Executive | Risk Consulting

Dr. Conor Dowling
Research & Policy Executive
Risk Consulting

Non-resident landlords may have received a letter from Revenue advising of upcoming changes to the administration of withholding tax for non-resident landlords. Up to now, non-resident landlords had two options to report rental profits to Revenue:

  1. Non-resident landlords asked their tenant to withhold 20% of the rent and to pay this to Revenue on their tenant’s personal income tax return. The tenant should have given the non-resident landlord a Form R185 (certificate of income tax deducted) so that a credit could be claimed for the tax deducted when submitting a personal income tax return.
  2. Non-resident landlords appointed a Collection Agent, who registered for Income Tax on their behalf using a Collection Agent Income Tax Registration Form. Their Collection Agent was responsible for reporting the non-resident landlord’s rental profit for the year by filing an income tax return and paying any liability to Revenue on behalf of the non-resident landlord.

What are the upcoming changes?

A new Non-Resident Landlord Withholding Tax system is expected to go live from 1 July 2023 which will see changes to the obligations of tenants, collection agents and non-resident landlords.

  1. Tenants will be required to withhold and pay to Revenue 20% of the rent by making a rental notification through the new withholding tax platform. They will not be responsible for paying the 20% tax deducted on their personal income tax return.
  2. Collection Agents will no longer be responsible for filing an income tax return. A Collection Agent will be required to withhold and pay to Revenue 20% of the rent by making a rental notification through the new withholding tax platform.
  3. Non-Resident Landlords will be responsible for filing their personal income tax returns. A credit will be allowed for the tax withheld in the new system.

What actions are required by non-resident landlords?

If you are a non-resident landlord whose tenants already withhold 20% of the rent or if you have appointed a Collection Agent, there are no actions required by you at this time.  Further information will be released by Revenue shortly and a new Tax and Duty Manual will be published in due course.

All other non-resident landlords must now decide whether they want their tenants or a collection agent to withhold and pay to Revenue 20% of the rent under the new Non-Resident Landlord Withholding Tax system and take action accordingly.

Please contact us if you have further queries on this.

The Law Society has introduced new Solicitors Accounts Regulations 2023, which come into operation on 1 July 2023.

These regulations will impact solicitors, reporting accountants and Law Society investigations.

The existing Solicitors Accounts Regulations 2014 remain applicable for any accounting period that commenced before 1 July 2023.

Please visit the Law Society for information on the key updates.

Vacant Homes Tax

A new Vacant Homes Tax (VHT) was introduced in Budget 2023. The primary objective of this is to increase the availability of housing, but landlords need to be aware of the restrictions on allowable pre-letting expenses when calculating their rental profits.

Vacant Homes Tax (VHT)

VHT applies to residential properties which have been occupied for less than 30 days in a chargeable period.

VHT is calculated at three times the residential property’s local property tax (LPT) liability.

The following will be exempt from the VHT:

  • Properties recently sold or listed for sale or rent.
  • Properties vacant due to illness or long-term care of the occupier.
  • Properties which were the principal residence of a deceased chargeable person in either the chargeable period or in the 12-month period prior to the commencement of the chargeable period.
  • Properties which were the principal residence of a deceased chargeable person where a grant to administer the estate issues in the chargeable period and for any chargeable period following such a grant, where the administration of the estate has not yet completed.
  • Properties which are vacant due to significant refurbishment work.

The first chargeable period runs from 1 November 2022 to 31 October 2023.

A VHT return will be due by 7 November 2023, with the tax payable by 1 January 2024.

Pre-Letting Expenses

In determining the taxable rental profits from the letting of residential property, a landlord may claim a deduction for the following expenses:

  • Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) registration.
  • Insurance premiums.
  • Maintenance & repairs – e.g., cleaning, painting and decorating, general property maintenance.
  • Property fees – e.g., management fees, letting advertising, legal or accountancy fees.
  • Costs not repaid by tenant – e.g., light & heat costs.
  • Capital allowances on qualifying capital items – e.g., furniture, white goods.

However, with the exception of property-related fees such as letting or legal fees incurred on the first letting, a deduction is not permitted for expenses incurred prior to the first letting of the property.

The Finance Act 2017 sought to address the above and introduced an allowable deduction of up to €5,000 for certain pre-letting expenses incurred on vacant residential properties. From 1 January 2023, this cap on the authorised deduction has been increased to €10,000 and the specified period for which the property was vacant has been reduced from twelve to six months. The landlord must incur the expenditure during the twelve months prior to first letting the property.

If the landlord ceases to let the property within four years, the deduction for the pre-letting expenses will be clawed back in the year in which the property ceases to be let as a residential property. Importantly, a clawback will be triggered if there is a change of use from residential or if the property is sold.

If you need any assistance with VHT or Pre-Letting Expenses, please contact Niall Grant, Partner in our Tax Services’ Department.

Do you have property in the UK, or are you about to acquire or have you recently sold property there? If so, you must comply with new anti-money laundering legislation for UK properties.

On 1 August 2022, the new Register of Overseas Entities, came into effect through the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022.

Any overseas entity that wants to buy, sell, or transfer property or land in the UK, must register with the UK Companies House and declare the identity of their beneficial owners or managing officers before 31 January 2023.

Overseas entities that disposed of property or land since 28 February 2022 (when legislation for the register was first announced) are required to provide a statement to Companies House.

The register applies to property acquired in:

  • England and Wales since 1 January 1999;
  • Scotland since 8 December 2014; and
  • Northern Ireland since 1 August 2022.

Failure to comply with these new obligations is a criminal offence and will lead to fines of up to £2,500 per day or a prison sentence of up to 5 years.

For further information, please Emma Dunne, Assistant Manager of Corporate Compliance.