The provision of certain free or subsidised child care facilities by employers were exempt from a benefit-in-kind charge on the employees that availed of such facilities. This exemption was abolished in Budget and Finance Act 2011. With a view to keeping the scheme simple and reducing administration on the part of employers, there was no notification procedure for employers involved. Accordingly, the Revenue Commissioners do not have separately identifiable costs or statistics for the scheme. It was estimated at the time of Budget 2011 that its abolition would yield €3 million to the Exchequer in 2011 and €6 million in a full year.
Cost was not the only factor that was taken into account when the decision was taken to abolish the exemption. Indeed, the Commission on Taxation recommended its abolition, citing equity, due to the likelihood that only large employers would have the ability to make the necessary investments.
Notwithstanding the abolition of this relief, a number of other support measures are in place to ease the burden on working parents. These include the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme, which funds community child care services to enable them to charge reduced child care fees to qualifying parents, the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme which provides free child care places to qualifying FAS and VEC trainees and the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme which provides for a free preschool year for children in the year before commencing primary school. Generous entitlements to paid and unpaid maternity leave as well as child benefit payments are also provided.