This is a complicated and detailed Bill and I want to be correct in what I say. We will also table an amendment on this section as we do not believe it is in the public interest. Indeed we should be moving to a situation where we have legislation requiring more or fuller disclosures, not fewer. Sinn Féin does, however, welcome the introduction of a new category in the legislation, the micro company. This is defined as a company which does not exceed any two of the following criteria: an annual turnover of €700,000 or less, a balance sheet total of €350,000 or less and an average number of ten or fewer employees. This is especially significant as the majority of companies in Ireland would come below this threshold. The Revenue Commissioners would have a far lower threshold for the categorisation of micro businesses. In this regard and in the context of reducing the administrative burden for micro businesses, as part of their simplified processes the Revenue Commissioners allow micro companies to pay their VAT, PAYE and PRSI liabilities on a less frequent basis.
Sinn Féin would also like the Revenue Commissioners to extend similar arrangements to micro businesses for corporation tax and income tax so that they do not have to pay a large tax bill in one lump sum. Furthermore, it would be useful to allow businesses to pay tax on account during the year. This would be of particular use for micro businesses in the service sector with seasonal cashflow.
As well as easing the administration of the tax system for micro businesses, Sinn Féin would have increased the self-employed tax credit to €1,300 in 2017 to help small business people and move then to full equalisation with the PAYE credit. I was quite disappointed that the Government increased the self-employed tax credit to only €950 for 2017.
Moving back to the Bill, we also welcome the closing of the loophole regarding companies that are registered in Ireland as unlimited but have established ownership structures offshore with the effect that the ultimate liability of the owners is limited. Such companies will, under the proposed legislation, now be required to submit a financial statement with their annual returns.
Finally, as noted earlier, we welcome chapter 10 of the Accounting Directive requiring companies involved in the extractive industries and in the logging of primary forests, whether in or outside of the EU, to now make reports on payments to governments. Sinn Féin welcomes this long overdue legislation. However, we do have certain concerns about aspects of the Bill and we will be tabling amendments on Committee Stage.