I assume the Deputy is referring to the recent changes applying PAYE to benefits-in-kind, BIK, introduced with effect from 1 January 2004 and for which legislative provision was made in the Finance Acts 2003 and 2004 and the Social Welfare Acts 2003 and 2004. The intention of the new system is to ensure that generally all remuneration, in whatever form, is treated in the same way for income tax, PRSI and health levy purposes. Treating benefits in the same way and subjecting them to the same rules as normal wages and salaries under PAYE has introduced a greater degree of equity into the system.
I understand the Deputy has a specific interest in the tax treatment of health care benefits paid for by employers on behalf of employees and, in particular, the cost of medical check-ups and health insurance costs. There has been no change in the tax treatment of either of these benefits in that both would always have been taxable. However, under the new arrangements, PRSI and health levy also apply. Tax relief can be claimed on the cost of health insurance premiums. With regard to medical check-ups, the position is that the provision of medical check-ups which employees are required to undergo by their employer is not regarded as a taxable benefit. However, routine medical check-ups, paid for but not required by the employer, are treated as giving rise to a taxable benefit.