Revenue Warn Builders: “We’re Back!”

August 31, 2015

The Revenue Commissioners have warned builders and tradesmen to be on their guard in relation to tax compliance, as the construction sector slowly recovers from its long recessionary slump.

The collapse of the building sector following the 2008/09 crash was a catastrophe, not only for those working in and earning a crust from construction, but also for Revenue, who had enjoyed booming tax receipts from the sector in the Celtic Tiger bubble years.

In its eBrief last week, the tax authority announced that it is beefing up its “compliance interventions” programme for the industry, in order to ensure that the State benefits fully from the recovery.

This centres mainly on the online Relevant Contracts Tax (eRCT) system, in addition to VAT and Employers’ PAYE/PRSI.

Revenue to Builders - We're Back!

Revenue have now flagged the following key issues:

  • Operation of the eRCT system, including full reporting of payments to sub-contractors, and notification of “Unknown” sub-contractors;
  • Reconciliations of Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) applications with VAT returns;
  • Cross-checking of eRCT, PAYE/PRSI and VAT returns with reported profit margins;
  • Reviews of VAT Reverse Charge and PAYE/PRSI procedures;
  • More attention on the vexed question of classifying employees vs. subcontractors; and
  • A fresh focus on the treatment of non-Irish resident principal contractors & sub-contractors.

Once underway, the Revenue  “compliance interventions” programme will entail more:

  • aspect queries – requests for documentation and other specific questions
  • profile interviews – interviews focusing on the key tax “compliance risk areas” identified by Revenue based on the taxpayer’s profile.
  • revenue audits – full examinations of tax returns and claims.
  • unannounced visits to construction sites.

Revenue are strongly encouraging builders and tradesmen to review their tax compliance, and regularise any shortcomings before they take action.

In many cases this will entail making an “unprompted voluntary disclosure” and settling tax, penalties and interest liabilities.

If you are going down this road, I strongly recommend that you first arm yourself with appropriate professional assistance and ensure that your proposal complies with the Revenue Audit Code of Practice.

Are Revenue Really Using PAYE Audits to Fish for Third-Party Data?

August 18, 2015

“Revenue are doing audits of PAYE taxpayers who got one-off single-house planning permission and demanding details of all payments to tradespeople.”

…according to Aidan Clifford in the Sunday Independent at the weekend.

I haven’t yet heard of this happening. If if it is, I’d be very, very alarmed.

Revenue Audit

The purpose of a Revenue Audit is to audit a tax return. It should never be merely a general trawl through a private individual’s personal expenditure.

And if Revenue are auditing PAYE taxpayer returns with the sole intention of fishing for information on non-business spending, there’s a good chance they’re violating both their own Code of Practice and their wider data protection obligations.

If you’ve a grievance over the conduct of a Revenue Audit, you can use their complaints procedure.

P35 & RCT35 Online Filing Deadline Tomorrow

February 22, 2012

Tomorrow, 23 February, is the online filing deadline for 2011 Employer PAYE/PRSI P35 & Contractor RCT35 returns.

A P35 return includes details of all pay, PAYE/PRSI/USC deductions and other employee details for the year ended 31 December 2011.

An RCT35 return must be filed by all principal contractors in the construction, forestry, and meat processing sectors. It includes details of all payments made to subcontractors in 2011, and tax deduction details where relevant.

The original deadline of 15 February 2012 which applied to both returns is extended to 23 February for returns filed online via ROS.

In a recent eBrief, Revenue stress the importance of employers recording their employees’ PPS numbers correctly on P35 returns. Presumably the same guidance applies to subcontractor PPS and tax reg. numbers recorded on RCT35 returns.

The website contains more guidance on completing P35 and RCT35 returns.

Revenue and Locums: Tax Bonanza or Catch 22?

October 18, 2010

Revenue move on medical locums will boost tax take but may drive up GMS costs for taxpayer.

According to last Thursday’s Irish Times, the Revenue Commissioners are currently ‘negotiating’  with out-of-hours GP services, in relation to PAYE/PRSI tax liabilities on locum doctors.  This news follows recent moves by Revenue to have locum professionals classified as PAYE employees rather than self-employed contractors.  A number of out-of-hours GP companies have already paid large settlement sums to Revenue arising from this change.

Locums are effectively temporary workers who provide holiday and other cover for resident practice doctors. Where a practice hires a locum as an employee, they must pay employers PRSI  (generally 10.75% of salary), and in addition deduct PAYE, PRSI and levies from their locum’s paycheque.  This generates a higher tax yield for Revenue than the previous system where each self-employed locum invoiced the practice for their services, was paid gross, deducted overhead costs in calculating their taxable income, and paid tax and PRSI on this net figure.

Working as a locum doctor can be financially lucrative but presents its own challenges. Most locums work for a range of practices, often in different towns and cities, and frequently move from one practice to another as their services are needed, e.g for holiday cover.  Locums must also budget for periodic spells of unemployment and their schedules being dictated by the needs of the various practices  who hire them.

In addition, by definition locums work in treating and diagnosing other doctors’ patients, with whom they do not have the same level of familiarity and medical history knowledge as enjoyed by a resident practice GP. Hence their work tends to be more difficult and pressurised than that of a resident GP.

The Irish Times article raises fears that the new Revenue approach will cause a scarcity of locums and that medical practices will find it difficult to recruit them. Only time will tell whether this pessimism is justified, and in these recessionary times, it may transpire that locum doctors are generally quite happy to continue working in that capacity, regardless their tax treatment.

On the other hand, if practices find it increasingly difficult to recruit locums, this raises the prospect of heavier burdens on already overworked GPs (with implications for the quality of medical care they provide) and higher recruitment costs for practices.  As any such cost hikes will undoubtedly be passed on to patients, the biggest loser here could well be the taxpayer, who funds GP services for medical card holders through the GMS system.

It would be ironic indeed if the boost to the Exchequer from the Revenue move is lost through higher costs within the GMS medical card system. Did anyone mention Catch-22?

The Irish Times article is here.