Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (234)

Colm Burke

Question:

234. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Finance if tax relief may be claimed under the medical expenses mechanism for PAYE workers in the event that a person has to bear the cost of a Covid-19 test, such as a PCR test or antigen test; if the cost is taxable if it is borne by the employer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7345/21]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Since the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic Revenue has published guidance on a range of matters to assist taxpayers in meeting their tax obligations, and to make them aware of several concessionary measures which have been introduced since March 2020 on foot of the unprecedented impact of the pandemic. Details of all COVID-19 related matters can be found on Revenue’s website, available here: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/communications/covid19/compliance-with-certain-reporting-and-filing-obligations.aspx.

Regarding the cost of obtaining a COVID-19 test, I am advised by Revenue as follows:

Tax relief is available under section 469 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 where an individual incurs “health expenses” for health care which is carried out by, or on the advice of a practitioner.

Health expenses includes the following:

(a) the services of a practitioner,

(b) diagnostic procedures carried out on the advice of a practitioner,

(c) maintenance or treatment necessarily incurred in connection with the services or procedures referred to in paragraph (a) or (b),

(d) drugs or medicines supplied on the prescription of a practitioner,

(e) the supply, maintenance or repair of any medical, surgical, dental or nursing appliance used on the advice of a practitioner,

(f) physiotherapy or similar treatment prescribed by a practitioner,

(g) orthoptic or similar treatment prescribed by a practitioner,

(h) transport by ambulance,

(i) educational psychological assessments carried out by an educational psychologist in certain circumstances, or

(j) speech and language therapy carried out by a speech and language therapist in certain circumstances.

A practitioner means any person who is either:

a. registered in the register established under section 43 of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007 or section 26 of the Dentists Act, 1985 or,

b. in respect of health care provided outside the State, is entitled under the laws of the country in which the care is provided to practice medicine or dentistry there.

Therefore, where an individual incurs expenditure in obtaining a COVID-19 test, they will be entitled to make a claim for tax relief if the costs incurred meets the above criteria. Further details in relation to tax relief for health expenses can be found on Revenue’s website, available here: https://www.revenue.ie/en/personal-tax-credits-reliefs-and-exemptions/health-and-age/health-expenses/index.aspx, and also in Tax and Duty Manual Part 15-01-12 (https://www.revenue.ie/en/tax-professionals/tdm/income-tax-capital-gains-tax-corporation-tax/part-15/15-01-12.pdf).

For employers, taxable trading and professional income is computed based on accounting profits as adjusted to conform with tax law. While tax law specifically disallows deductions for certain expenses, such as capital expenditure (including accounting depreciation), the central test of deductibility is whether the expense has been “wholly and exclusively laid out or expended for the purposes of the trade or profession”.

Thus, where employers incur COVID-19 related costs of a revenue nature, and where those costs were incurred to allow the business to carry on its trade or profession, they will be deductible in computing taxable profits.

In addition, no benefit-in-kind (BIK) charge will arise where, due to health and safety concerns, an employer:

a. performs COVID-19 testing on an employee at the workplace,

b. engages a third party to do such testing on behalf of the employer, or

c. provides a COVID-19 test kit to an employee for self-administration.

On 14 January 2021 Revenue published eBrief 004/2021 (https://www.revenue.ie/en/tax-professionals/ebrief/2021/no-0042021.aspx), confirming that this BIK measure relating to COVID-19 tests continues to remain in place.

Questions Nos. 235 and 236 answered with Question No. 187.