Finance Act 2015 amended the VAT treatment of education and vocational training. The amendment was to ensure that Irish VAT legislation reflects judgements of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The wording of the amended legislation caused uncertainty for many training providers in the private sector as it stated that only training or retraining services provided by a “recognised body” could continue to be exempt from VAT. The definition of “recognised body” made it difficult for many private sector training providers to qualify.

If a supply if not exempt, VAT is chargeable on that supply.

Revenue did comment at the time of Finance Act 2015 that it did not believe that the changes would lead to divergence from existing practices but there was no written guidance from Revenue on the subject to give training providers comfort.

Thankfully, this uncertainty has now been resolved with Revenue’s recent e-Brief on the subject.

Revenue confirm that vocational training and retraining services continue to be exempt from VAT where certain conditions are met. They confirm that where each of the conditions (listed below) are met, there is no requirement that the provider must be a “recognised body”.

They list these conditions as:

  • The training must be vocational in nature; that is, it must be directed towards an occupation and its associated skills.
  • It must be provided to improve the vocational rather than the personal skills of the trainee.
  • The vocational skills that the trainee acquires can be transferable from one employment to another, or to self-employment.
  • The training will generally be provided by means of a structured programme, have concise aims, objectives and clear anticipated outcomes.
  • There should be a clear trainee/trainer relationship between the student and the teacher or instructor.

Where any of the above conditions are not met or the course is primarily directed towards personal development or undertaken for recreational purposes, the course will be subject to VAT at the appropriate rate.

This is a very welcome clarification for training providers in the private sector who now have written guidance from Revenue to assist in deciding if their supplies are subject to VAT or exempt.

It is also useful for Irish businesses and public bodies who receive education and training services from abroad. The responsibility for correctly self-accounting for VAT on the receipt of these services falls on the Irish recipient and there is now written guidance from Revenue to assist in deciding whether to self-account for VAT at the appropriate rate or whether the receipt of the service is exempt from VAT.

Please contact us if you require assistance with the above.

Finance Act 2016 introduced an income tax exemption in respect of certain expenses of travel and subsistence of an Irish resident non-executive director of a company.

The expenses must be incurred solely for the purpose of attendance by a non-executive director, in his or her capacity as a director, at a “relevant meeting”.

The exemption applies to expenses incurred on or after 1 January 2017.

Payments to which the exemption applies may not exceed the Civil Service approved rates for mileage and subsistence as set down by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. See details of the current Civil Service Rates for Travel and Subsistence.

Payments which come within the term of the exemption are also exempt from USC and PRSI.


Relevant director”, in relation to a company, means a person holding office as a non-executive director of that company –

  1. who is resident in the State, and
  2. whose annualised amount of emoluments from the office for the year of assessment 2017 and for each subsequent year in which the person is a director of the company does not exceed €5,000.

Relevant meeting” means a meeting in the State attended by a relevant director in his or her capacity as a director for the purposes of the conduct of the affairs of the company.

Travel” means travel by car, motorcycle, bus, rail or aircraft.

For more information please contact us.

With third level exams completed and State Examinations drawing to a close, Revenue has received a number of queries as to whether exam setters, invigilators and exam correctors can be engaged as “self-employed” individuals and paid gross or whether they should be engaged as “employees” with payments to them subject to deductions under the PAYE system.

In their recently published eBrief No. 48/17, Revenue have confirmed that whilst the facts of each case will determine whether an individual is self- employed or an employee, Revenue’s view is that exam setters, exam correctors and invigilators engaged by the State sector, private colleges or associations are, in general, likely to be employees and, therefore, deductions (tax, PRSI and USC) under the PAYE system should be made from the emoluments paid to them.

This is an important clarification for any educational establishment that engages individuals to set, invigilate or correct exams. It places responsibility for correctly deducting tax from payments to these individuals on the employer establishment and means that these individuals must be put on payroll even if they are engaged on an ad hoc basis or for a short period of time.

For more information please contact us.