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Global Mobility - Tax Obligations of Outbound Workers

As the expansion of remote working continues, more employees are no longer obliged to work at their employer’s premises or, indeed, even in the same country as their employer’s premises. This presents a number of opportunities and challenges for employers. In the first of our global mobility series, we will examine the tax compliance obligations for Irish employers with employees working abroad.

Situation One – an Irish employer hires a new employee based abroad

An Irish employer does not need to operate Irish payroll taxes on the salary of an employee who:

  • is not resident in Ireland for income tax purposes
  • was recruited abroad
  • carries out all the duties of their employment abroad
  • is not a director of your company; and
  • has no Income Tax liability in Ireland.

For any employee in these circumstances, an Irish employer does not have to apply for a PAYE Exclusion Order to Irish Revenue and is not required to include the employee on the employer’s payroll submissions to Revenue. Employers should maintain a record of each such employee with a record of any payments made to them each year.

This is a useful exemption for Irish employers who recruit employees to work abroad as it means the non-resident employee does not need to apply for a PPS number.

Situation Two – an existing employee of an Irish employer moves abroad

An Irish employer may find that an existing employee, who lives and works in Ireland, decides to move abroad indefinitely while retaining their existing employment. In this instance, the tax obligations for the Irish employer depends on the employee’s tax residence in Ireland. This must be reviewed each year.

An individual is tax resident here if they are in Ireland for 183 days or more in the calendar year or for 280 days or more across the current and preceding calendar years. An individual is not tax resident in Ireland if they are here for 30 days or less in any calendar year.

a. The employee is tax-resident in Ireland in the year of departure

An Irish employer can apply to Irish Revenue for a PAYE Exclusion Order where an employee:

  • leaves Ireland during the year
  • becomes tax resident elsewhere
  • will carry out their employment duties wholly outside of Ireland, and
  • will be resident outside Ireland in the following tax year.

Once issued in these circumstances, the PAYE Exclusion Order will relieve the employer from the obligation to deduct Irish income tax and USC from that employee’s salary from the date of departure.

b. The employee is not tax-resident in Ireland

An Irish employer can apply to Irish Revenue for a PAYE Exclusion Order where an employee:

  • is not resident in the State for tax purposes for the relevant tax year, and
  • carries out the duties of the employment wholly outside of Ireland.

Once issued in these circumstances, the PAYE Exclusion Order will relieve the employer from the obligation to deduct Irish income tax and USC from that employee’s salary for the full tax year.

PAYE Exclusion Orders have an expiry date. An employer may apply for another PAYE Exclusion Order if the employee continues to work abroad after that date and continues to be non-resident.

It is important to note that the PAYE Exclusion Order does not cover PRSI. Determining the country in which social insurance is to be paid by and on behalf of the employee is a separate issue.

Situation Three – an existing employee of an Irish employer splits their year between working in Ireland and working abroad

This situation is arguably the most complex for an Irish employer. If the employee remains tax-resident in Ireland, Irish Revenue will not issue a PAYE Exclusion Order. As a result, the employer must continue to apply Irish payroll taxes to the employee’s salary as normal.

However, the country in which the employee is working may require the employer to apply local payroll taxes on that part of the salary that relates to work carried out in that country.

Where there is no relief available, employers may have dual payroll withholding responsibilities in both Ireland and the foreign country. They will often run what is known as a “shadow payroll” in respect of an employee’s salary. Shadow payroll is run to ensure that tax compliance obligations are met in both countries without affecting the employee’s net take-home salary.

Running shadow payroll is an extra compliance burden for the employer. Furthermore, the Irish employer must contribute payroll taxes to the Revenue authorities in both countries. This can come as an unpleasant surprise to both employers and employees.

It is therefore crucial that an Irish employer recognises if they will have to operate shadow payroll before an employee carries out any work abroad.

If shadow payroll is required, an employer must establish what is required in both countries and must agree with their employee how any duplicate deduction of payroll taxes can be reclaimed.

Often, to reclaim some or all of the payroll taxes withheld, the employee will be required to submit an income tax return. In this instance, any refund due will issue from the Revenue authorities to the employee. This can leave the employer out of pocket if a clear agreement is not put in place with the employee at the outset.

Conclusion

We have seen here the Irish tax compliance obligations for employers. An Irish employer with employees working abroad should always check their tax and social security obligations in the country where the employee is working. Often, the employer will be required to register for payroll taxes in the employee’s country and apply local payroll taxes on the employee’s salary.

In addition, depending on the number of employees that the employer has in that country and the type of duties that they carry out, the presence of these employees in that country may create a “permanent establishment” of the employer in that country. If an employer has a branch or permanent establishment in a foreign country, it may be obliged to pay local income or corporation tax on the profits of that branch.

For more information, please contact Siobhán O’Hea, Partner, Tax Services.

An area that has continued to cause challenges and risks for businesses is the operation of Relevant Contracts Tax (RCT) and VAT.

The most common mistakes we see being made in this sector are by non-resident principal contractors who engage a subcontractor to carry out construction works in Ireland.

This article will focus on the most common pitfalls that we see occurring within this sector by non-resident principal contractors and the steps that can be taken to avoid making costly mistakes.

1. Compliance Obligations for Non-Resident Principal Contractors

When a non-resident principal contractor engages a subcontractor to carry out construction works in Ireland, the RCT system must be applied to payments made to the subcontractor.

The first potential pitfall for a non-resident principal contractor is not taking the reasonable care to familiarise themselves with their tax obligations under the RCT regime. In such a case, the non-resident principal contractor will eventually be contacted by Revenue, informing them of their failure to operate the RCT regime. This usually occurs following the commencement of the works in Ireland, at which point the mistakes have already been made and costly penalties can be imposed by Revenue.

As such, it is very important that a non-resident principal contractor is aware of their tax obligations prior to the commencement of any construction works in Ireland so that the necessary administrative steps can be taken to ensure that they are set up for the RCT system and fully compliant in operating RCT on payments to subcontractors.

The administrative steps to be taken by a non-resident principal contractor include registering for RCT on Revenue’s Online Service (ROS) and operating the RCT regime throughout the duration of the project in Ireland (further detail on this below).

2. Operation of the RCT System

Once a principal contractor is registered for RCT with Revenue, there are a number of steps that must be taken each time a principal contractor enters into a relevant contract with a subcontractor and each time a payment is made to the subcontractor. These steps are summarised as follows:

a. Contract Notification

  • The first step is to input a “Contract Notification” through Revenue’s online RCT system. A principal contractor must notify Revenue each time it enters into a new relevant contract with a subcontractor. The Principal will then receive a contract reference number and an indication of the applicable RCT deduction rate for the subcontractor.

b. Payment Notification

  • Before making a payment to a subcontractor, the principal must notify Revenue’s online eRCT system of the intention to make the payment and provide details to Revenue of the gross amount to be paid. This process is known as “Payment Notification”. This must be done for each payment made to the subcontractor.

c. Deduction Authorisation

  • Revenue will issue a deduction authorisation to the principle contractor which will specify the rate and amount of tax to be deducted from the payment to the subcontractor. This process is known as “Deduction Authorisation”. The principle is required to provide a copy of this authorisation to the subcontractor.

d. Deduction Summary (RCT Return)

  • Revenue’s eRCT system prepares a pre-populated period end return known as a “Deduction Summary (i.e. RCT Return)”, which is based on the deduction authorisations issued during the period. The due date for payment of the RCT withheld is the 23rd day after the end of the period covered by the return.

The most common pitfall we see occurring in practice are inconsistencies in notifying Revenue of each and every payment made to a subcontractor by the principal contractor. This can be a costly mistake for the principal contractor as the penalties Revenue can impose for failure to operate the RCT system in this way range between 3% to 35%, depending on the RCT deduction rate applicable to the subcontractor.

To put this into perspective, if a subcontractor has been assigned a 35% RCT deduction rate and the principal contractor makes a payment of €25,000 to the subcontractor without first notifying Revenue of the payment and deducting the appropiate withholding tax, Revenue can impose a penalty of €8,750 (i.e. 35% of the invoice value) on the principal contractor for its failure to operate the RCT system.

These penalties can become very costly for a business where they fail to operate the RCT system on high value invoices.

3. Operation of RCT and Reverse Charge VAT

Typically, VAT is normally charged by the person supplying the goods or services. However, under the RCT regime, the person receiving the goods or services (the principal contractor) calculates the VAT due on the invoice from the subcontractor and pays it directly to Revenue. This is referred to as Reverse Charge VAT and it is common area in which mistakes are made by non-resident principal contractors.

The following should occur when a subcontractor invoices a principal contractor for construction services that are subject to RCT:

  1. The subcontractor raises an VAT invoice with the zero rate of VAT applied;
  2. The invoice should include the VAT registration number of the principal contractor and include the narrative “VAT on this supply to be accounted for by the principal contractor”;
  3. The principal contractor calculates the VAT due on the invoice value and records it as VAT on sales (Box T1) on its VAT return. Where it is entitled to do so, the principal contractor can claim a simultaneous VAT input credit (Box T2) on the VAT return, thus resulting in a VAT neutral position.

Although the RCT system can seem like a heavy administrative burden on a business, it can be managed relatively smoothly with the proper administration. Our tax specialists look after all administrative issues regarding RCT, provide effective advice and answer questions you may have regarding RCT.

Should you require any assistance, please contact us.

In accordance with the EU Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD), Ireland has introduced the Interest Limitation Rules (ILR) as part of the Finance Act 2021.

The ILR applies to accounting periods that commence on or after 1st January 2022. Their aim is to limit base erosion attempts by multinational companies through the use of excessive deductions and other financing costs. To accomplish this, the ILR limits the rate of interest deductions.

The ILR seeks to limit the amount of allowable net borrowing costs to a maximum of 30% of the tax adjusted EBITDA.

The restriction apples where the interest equivalent expense exceeds interest equivalent income. The term “interest equivalent” has a wide definition and includes interest on all debt plus financial instruments, amounts incurred in connection with raising finance and foreign exchange gains and losses on interest.

As provided by the ATAD, the ILR may be applied using a single entity basis or a by using a “group approach”. This approach will determine the interest restriction at the level of a local group of companies, i.e., the “interest group”. The interest group will include all companies within the charge to Irish corporation tax. This approach should ensure that the profits of all members of the interest group that are liable for Irish tax are included.

The legislation includes a number of important exemptions, which include:

  • Where the taxpayer’s (whether a standalone company or an interest group) net borrowing cost does not exceed €3m,
  • Where the taxpayer is a standalone entity, i.e., no associated businesses,
  • Long-term infrastructure projects,
  • Interest on a legacy debt concluded before 17th June 2016.

Subject to conditions, amounts disallowed as a tax deduction under the ILR may be carried forward and deducted against profits in future years.

ILR will have a significant impact. Many corporate taxpayers will be faced with a complex set of rules and a greater administrative burden.

For more information, please contact Niall Grant, Partner in our Tax Services’ Department.

The new EU-wide Import One Stop Shop (IOSS) will go live from 1 July 2021.

From that date the current VAT exemption for goods in small consignments of a value of up to €22 is abolished and all goods imported into the EU will be subject to VAT.

The IOSS will allow suppliers making distance sale of goods imported from third countries to final consumers in the EU (e.g. online retailers) to declare and pay the VAT due on those goods by submission of a monthly return via the IOSS in the Member State where they have registered for the scheme.

Continue reading about the new EU VAT changes

Revenue have published a new Tax and Duty Manual VAT – Postponed Accounting. It contains information on procedures, conditions and the operation of the new postponed accounting system for import VAT. The publication of this manual brings welcome clarification for traders importing goods to Ireland from all non-EU countries (including the UK post-Brexit) from 1st January 2021.

The Stay and Spend Scheme begins today, 1 October 2020 and runs until 30 April 2021. This new tax credit can be used against Income Tax or USC liabilities for the years 2020 and 2021.

To qualify for the Stay and Spend credit a minimum spend of €25 is required per transaction. Qualifying expenditure includes holiday accommodation and “eat in” food and non-alcoholic drink from a “registered service provider” only. A list of all registered service providers can be found on Stay and Spend Scheme.

The Stay and Spend Tax Credit is equal to up to 20% of qualifying expenditure incurred. A €625 expenditure limit has been introduced for individuals and €1,250 for jointly assessed spouses and civil partners. The maximum tax credit that can be claimed under this scheme in respect of the 2020 and 2021 year of assessment is either €125 per person or €250 per couple for jointly assessed spouses and civil partners.

To claim the Stay and Spend Tax Credit, you must submit an income tax return and submit a copy of your receipt to Revenue. Tax returns can be submitted via MyAccount for PAYE workers or via ROS for the self-employed. The easiest way to submit a copy of your receipt to Revenue is to use the new Revenue Receipts Tracker App, which is available to download for free from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

The introduction of this scheme should provide a welcome boost to the tourism and hospitality sector.

Please contact us if you have any queries on how to avail of this tax credit.

Budget 2019 increased the Home Carer Tax Credit from €1,200 to €1,500 per annum. This tax credit is available to married couples or registered civil partners, where one spouse stays at home to care for a “dependant”.

A dependant can be:
  • a child for whom child benefit is payable;
  • a person aged 65 years or over; or
  • an incapacitated individual.

It does not include a spouse or partner. Often there may be one or more dependants being cared for by the carer spouse. This does not increase the tax credit available.

The Home Carer Tax Credit is often unclaimed as there is a misconception that you must be caring for a sick relative. This is not the case.

Conditions to qualify:
  • You must be jointly assessed for income tax.
  • The dependant person must normally reside with the carer for the tax year. However, if the dependant person is a relative, they can live next door, on the same property or within 2kms of the carer. A relative includes a relative by marriage or a person for whom the claimant is a legal guardian, but not a spouse or civil partner. However, there must be a direct communication link between the two residences such as a telephone or alarm system.
  • The carer spouse must have income of €7,200 per annum or less (excluding any carers benefit or payments received from the Department of Social Protection). If you earn more than €7,200 but less than €10,200 per annum, you may claim a reduced credit:

For example, if the carer spouse earns €8,200 per annum, the maximum tax credit that can be claimed is reduced by the additional earnings as follows €8,200-€7,200=€1,000/2 = €500. The tax credit is reduced by €500 giving a maximum credit of €1,000 available.

If the carer spouse earns €10,200 or above, no Home Carer Tax Credit is available.

This tax credit cannot be claimed alongside the increased standard rate bands for married couples/civil partners. Revenue will grant you the more beneficial option.

Remember; if you qualified for the Home Carer Tax Credit in any of the past 4 tax years (2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015), you can still make a claim to Revenue for it.

If you require any assistance with the home carer tax credit, please contact Michelle Mangan, Manager of Tax Services.

A recent High Court decision has a significant bearing on the application of dwelling house exemption to beneficiaries who inherit a mixed asset estate, comprising of a number of residential properties.

The dwelling house exemption allows someone to inherit a property tax-free provided that they have lived in it for three years before the homeowner’s death and that it was the main home of the person who has died. Critically, if a person owns even a share in another property “at the date of inheritance”, they lose their entitlement to the relief. Revenue has always been of the view that if someone who would otherwise qualify for dwelling house relief inherits not just the main home of the disponer but another property, or a share in another property, they no longer meet the eligibility criteria.

A Court ruling on 25th September 2018 has changed the rules on dwelling house exemption. The High Court ruled in the case of a successor, who inherited both the family home where the successor had lived with the disponer and an interest in four other properties, was entitled to the dwelling house exemption. The judge held that the successor did not have a beneficial interest in either of the dwelling houses at the date of the inheritance, as a successor cannot become beneficially entitled to a house which forms part of the residue of an estate until the assets available for distribution have been ascertained.

The impact of the Court case is that you will no longer be disbarred from dwelling house relief if you inherit property other than the family home in the same will. Revenue has now adopted a revised approach in distinguishing between dwelling houses inherited as a specific legacy and those inherited in the residue of an estate.

Accordingly, a dwelling house forming part of the residue of an estate is not to be taken into account in determining whether a successor has an interest in another dwelling house at the date of an inheritance. Ownership of property received as part of the residue of a will would occur at a later date than “at the date of inheritance”.

Anyone receiving a specific legacy of an interest in a property as well as receiving the family home will continue to be excluded. This is because, as a specific legacy, beneficial ownership of the “other” property would transfer at the same time as the family home.

Revenue acknowledged that if any taxpayers find themselves in a similar set of facts as this case then they may be entitled to a refund of the tax paid, bearing in the mind the four year limit that applies to refunds of tax.

Should you require any further details on the dwelling house exemption, please contact us.

Revenue has recently clarified the taxation of couriers, specifically the tax treatment of motor cycle and bicycle couriers. The following treatment applies from 1 January 2019. Previous agreements will come to an end on this date.

Motor cycle and bicycle couriers are generally engaged under a contract for service i.e. they are self-employed individuals. Whilst the facts of each case may differ, this is the general view adopted by Revenue.

From 1 January 2019 motor cycle and bicycle couriers engaged under a contract for service i.e. self-employed individuals, will need to file a tax return self-assessment.

Expenses

Self-employed couriers can make a claim for any expenditure incurred wholly and exclusively for the purpose of their courier activity, for example, motor expenses & telephone/internet bills.

Revenue’s previous agreement of flat rate deductions for expenses (20%,40% or 45%) will no longer apply with effect from 1 January 2019.

Voluntary PAYE

Voluntary PAYE systems of tax have been implemented by several courier firms to assist couriers in ensuring that they are tax compliant. Revenue has no issue with these arrangements continuing, however Revenue has reiterated that income tax, USC & PRSI should be applied on gross income.

Van Owner-Driver Couriers

Similar to motor cycle and bicycle couriers, Revenue are of the view that van owner-driver couriers are engaged under a contract for service and thus they are self-employed individuals.

Pay and File System for Income Tax Self-Assessment

Under self-assessment there is a common date for the payment of tax and filing of tax returns. You must file your tax return on or before 31 October in the year after the year to which the return relates.

This system, which is known as Pay and File, requires you to:
• file your return for the previous year
• make a self-assessment for that year
• pay the balance of tax for that year
• pay preliminary tax for the current year.

For example, by 31 October 2019 you must:
• pay your preliminary tax for 2019
• file your 2018 self-assessment tax return
• pay any Income Tax (IT) balance for 2018.

When you pay and file through the Revenue Online Service (ROS), the 31 October deadline is extended to mid-November.

For more information on the taxation of couriers, please contact Michelle Mangan, Manager of Tax Services.

What is a salary sacrifice arrangement?  

The term salary sacrifice is generally understood to mean an arrangement between the employer and employee under which the employee forgoes the right to receive any part of his or her remuneration due under the term of  his/her contract of employment and in return their employer provides a benefit of a corresponding amount to the employee.

Where an employee forgoes salary payable under an existing contract of employment in exchange for a benefit, the employee remains taxable on the “gross” income payable. The salary sacrificed will be an application of income earned by the employee, not an expense incurred by the employer.

Exceptions

However, there are Revenue approved salary sacrifice arrangements which are exempt from the tax treatment outlined above. These include the following scenarios where the employee’s gross salary is reduced in return for:

  • bus, rail or ferry travel passes through a travel pass scheme
  • exempt shares appropriated to employees under approved profit sharing schemes, provided certain conditions are met
  • the provision of bicycles and safety equipment through the cycle to work scheme

Contact Michelle Mangan, Manager of Tax Services, if you have any questions about salary sacrifice arrangements or other employee benefit queries.