10 tips when filing your Income Tax Return

The deadline to submit an Income Tax Return for 2019 and to pay Preliminary Income Tax for 2020 on Revenue Online Service (ROS) is extended to 6pm, Friday 11 December 2020 (read announcement here).

Here are 10 things to watch out for when filing your 2019 Income Tax Return (the ROS Form 11) online over the coming days.


Check you have access to ROS

Your ROS Digital Certificate has an expiry date and is linked to your computer. So – if:

  • you don’t use ROS regularly, check that you can still log on, or
  • you replaced your computer during the year, you may need to transfer the ROS Cert to the new computer or reset your login.

Revenue’s “ROS Help” webpage has information on what to do in both scenarios.



Regularise your Local Property Tax (LPT) before submitting your Income Tax Return

If you cancelled your LPT bank debit earlier this year or your LPT payment bounced, you need to rectify the situation and pay the LPT before you file your Form 11 (Income Tax Return).

If you don’t, a surcharge will automatically be applied – equivalent to 10% of your Income Tax Return liability. While this particular surcharge is capped at the amount of the LPT bill once it’s paid, you can avoid this surcharge altogether by regularising your LPT before you submit your Form 11.

You can check your LPT record on ROS. If you have engaged a tax adviser to prepare your Income Tax Return, they won’t have access to your LPT record so, you’ll need to check it on ROS yourself.



Review and adjust, if necessary, the pre-populated information on Form 11

If you select a “pre-populated” Form 11, this will show your 2019 details of employment, pension income and social welfare income reported to Revenue for you. You should check these match your own records and enter the correct information, if necessary.

If you are a proprietary director of a company (i.e. broadly you own or control more than 15% of the ordinary share capital of the company) and were paid director’s fees or a bonus for 2019 after the end of the company’s financial period, this information is not included in the pre-populated figures.

As proprietary directors are taxed on the “earnings basis”, the return will need to be adjusted to reflect a bonus or fee which was

  • earned in 2019,
  • paid within 6 months of the end of the financial period, and
  • with a credit included for the estimated tax or USC deducted from the payment through the payroll (where those deductions were paid to Revenue).

For more information and guidance, look at Section 5 of Revenue’s ROS Form 11 Manual here.



If you made a loss in 2020, you can carry it back to 2019

The Government’s July Stimulus package introduced a once-off relief for the self-employed, allowing them to carry back losses and certain capital allowances incurred in 2020 against their 2019 profits. This is capped at €25,000.

You can make an “interim claim” for this loss relief on your 2019 Income Tax Return based on your estimated losses for 2020. This may result in a refund of Preliminary Income Tax you paid for 2019.

Revenue has a manual on this loss relief here. It includes worked examples of relief claims with a suggested methodology that you can use, and document, when estimating your 2020 loss or allowances for an interim claim.



Know your options

Several measures were introduced to help the self-employed who have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The Budget in October extended the Tax Debt Warehousing Scheme to include the balance due on 2019 Income Tax liabilities and 2020 Preliminary Tax.

You can opt to warehouse your 2019 balancing payment and the 2020 Preliminary Tax amount due for 12-months, where, due to COVID-19, there has been a minimum reduction of 25% in your total income relative to 2019.

To avail of this warehousing scheme, you must complete the Statement of Net Liabilities (SNL) on the Form 11 to confirm the balancing payment due for 2019 and your 2020 Preliminary Tax liability. You also need to submit your Form 11 by 6pm 11 December.

If you underpaid Preliminary Tax for 2019, you cannot warehouse the balance of tax due for 2019. But, the 2019 balance may be included in a “Phased Payment Arrangement” with Revenue. This will allow you to pay the liability in instalments that qualify for a reduced rate of interest on late payments of 3%, rather than the normal 8% rate.

To avail of this special 3% rate, you must enter into a Phased Payment Arrangement with Revenue online and also file your return no later than 6pm 11 December 2020. This Revenue Information Booklet includes details on the conditions of these schemes and practical examples.



Nominate a refund bank account

You may have a bank account on record with Revenue for income tax payments. Yet, Revenue can’t assume it is the account you wish to use for tax refunds.

So if you are due a refund, ensure you have nominated a refund bank account to minimise delays in receiving your refund.



Don’t mix up your dates for dealing with Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

Details of CGT you paid in 2019 and the transactions on which it arose need to be included in your 2019 Income Tax Return (and filed by 6pm 11 December). If you made a gain on a disposal between 1 January and 30 November 2020, you need to pay any CGT due on that disposal by 15 December 2020.



View Revenue’s resources on completing Form 11

Revenue has a range of resources online providing guidance on completing the ROS Form 11. These include videos covering frequently asked about topics, such as entering rental income on the return and claiming a deduction for pension contributions. The videos are available here.

Revenue also published a “ROS Pay & File – Useful Tips” Manual covering a variety of tips on completing the return. There are screenshots from ROS which make it easier to follow.



Be aware of Revenue’s helplines and their opening hours

Revenue’s Helpdesk for taxpayers experiencing difficulties filing on ROS and the Revenue’s Collector General’s Division phonelines will be open until 8pm from 8 – 10 December 2020. Details on the helplines, contact information and opening hours are available here.



If you need help this year, approach a tax adviser now

It will take a number of days for the adviser to be set up on Revenue’s system to file a return on your behalf, and this year is busier than ever for tax firms. So, act now if you need help.

A late return is liable to a 5% or 10% surcharge of your Income Tax liability.