The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) is an emergency measure to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy. The scheme builds on data returned to Revenue through its real-time PAYE system. It must be accepted that the underlying legislation and the scheme itself cannot be tailored to meet every individual unique set of circumstances for either employers or employees. The core principles of the scheme, as prescribed in the underlying law, are that the business is suffering significant negative economic impact due to the pandemic, that the employees were on the payroll at 29 February 2020 and that the employer had fulfilled its PAYE reporting obligations for February 2020 before, in general, 15 March 2020. The latter two requirements in particular were critical safeguards against abuse of the scheme.
I have been advised by Revenue that following a review of cases since the TWSS commenced, it became apparent that a number of employers had been unable to access the scheme because they failed the 15 March 2020 rule but had qualified under all other conditions of the scheme and are otherwise tax compliant. Given the purpose and objectives of the scheme, Revenue announced on 24 April 2020, under its care and management provisions, that it would allow such employers access the scheme provided:
- the employees in respect of whom the wage subsidy is claimed were included on the employer’s payroll on 29 February 2020,
- the February 2020 payroll submissions were submitted to Revenue before 1 April 2020, and
- the payroll submissions for all previous months were submitted to Revenue before 15 March 2020.
Where a business qualifies for the scheme under the revised criteria and makes the necessary declaration that it is significantly impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, the wage subsidies under the scheme will be payable for eligible employees in respect of payroll submissions made on or after 24 April 2020, with a pay date on or after 24 April 2020. These revised arrangements cannot be made retrospective. Where a business fails to meet the revised qualifying criteria for TWSS but wishes to further engage with Revenue on the matter, it must provide supporting evidence setting out the rationale for why it should be included in the scheme. This supporting documentation should be provided via Revenue’s myEnquiries system.
As I have indicated, the PAYE reporting obligations built into the eligibility criteria for the TWSS were designed in particular to prevent abuse of the scheme. It is not proposed to make any further concessions in relation to compliance with those reporting requirements for the purposes of qualification for the scheme.