Today, Tuesday, 21 December, the Government announced changes to three COVID-19 business supports: the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Covid Restriction Support Scheme (CRSS) and the Debt Warehousing Scheme to support hospitality and indoor entertainment which have been impacted by the latest public health restrictions that came into effect from 20 December 2021 and are due to run until 31 January 2022.
Following the Government’s announcement, Revenue confirmed in a press release that it will administer the changes to the relevant support schemes on an administrative basis pending enactment of the necessary legislation.
Changes to the EWSS
Following the announcement by the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe T.D. on 9 December that the enhanced rates of subsidy under the EWSS will be maintained for a further two months until 31 January 2022, Minister Donohoe has confirmed today that the EWSS will also be reopened for certain businesses who would otherwise not be eligible.
Employers that qualify for re-entry to the EWSS will receive support on a prospective basis from 1 January 2022 onwards. These businesses can remain in the scheme until its expiry date of 30 April 2022.
Qualification Criteria for Re-entry to the EWSS
Businesses that were previously registered for the EWSS and received a payment in compliance with the scheme can re-qualify for the scheme where they meet certain conditions. Broadly, the business must experience a 30% reduction in turnover, or customer orders during a particular reference period, as outlined below.
- Businesses established on or before 30 April 2019: To re-qualify for the EWSS, the business must anticipate that their combined turnover for December 2021 and January 2022 will be down by at least 30% compared with their combined turnover for December 2019 and January 2020.
- Businesses established between 1 May 2019 and 31 December 2021: To re-qualify for EWSS the business must anticipate that their average monthly turnover for December 2021 and January 2022 will be down by at least 30% compared with the average monthly turnover across the period August 2021 to November 2021 (or on a pro-rata basis if established during this four-month period).
- The business must also have a valid Tax Clearance Certificate.
Businesses that commence operations from 1 January 2022 onwards are not eligible for the scheme.
Revenue will provide further information on the EWSS hub of Revenue’s website in the coming days.
Changes to the CRSS
Following the announcement of further public health restrictions on Friday, 17 December, the Government has agreed that the CRSS will be made available to businesses in the hospitality sector, such as bars, restaurants and hotels, as well as indoor entertainment venues, such as cinemas and theatres that are required to close at 8pm each night until 31 January 2022. Up to now, a business was required to close or significantly restrict access by customers to its premises to qualify for the scheme.
A qualifying person who carries on such a business will be eligible to make a claim for payment under the CRSS if:
- The weekly turnover from the relevant business activity in the claim period will be no more than an amount equal to 40% of the average weekly turnover in a reference period (for most businesses the reference period will be 2019). For businesses established between 26 December 2019 and 26 July 2021, the reference period will depend on the date on which the business was established).
- The eligible business has tax clearance for the relevant claim period and intends to resume trading after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Where a qualifying person carries on more than one eligible business activity from separate business premises, a claim in respect of each activity can be made.
Eligible businesses that meet the revised qualifying criteria set out above and that previously received CRSS payments (in respect of a premises operating a business activity in the sectors affected by current public health restrictions) can make a claim for the CRSS via the e-Repayments facility in ROS from Wednesday, 22 December 2022.
New businesses established in the period from 13 October 2020 to 26 July 2021 are now also eligible to apply for support under the scheme. These businesses are required to first register for the CRSS via the e-Registration facility in ROS. An eligible business will be able to make a claim when it has an ‘active’ CRSS registration.
A qualifying person who meets the revised eligibility criteria can make a payment claim to Revenue in respect of each week that the eligible business activity is affected by the COVID-19 restrictions.
Claims can be made in blocks of up to three weeks at a time, with the respective amount due being paid by Revenue in a single payment generally within three days of submitting the claim. For example, an eligible business affected by public health restrictions that came into effect yesterday can make a claim for a payment for an initial 3-week period from 20 December 2021 to 9 January 2022.
The manner in which the weekly payment is calculated remains unchanged and is as follows:
- 10% of average weekly turnover up to €20,000,
- 5% of average weekly turnover in excess of €20,000 and
- subject to a maximum of €5,000 per week.
Average weekly turnover for the purposes of the CRSS refers to:
- the average weekly turnover in 2019 in the case of a business established before 26 December 2019
- the average weekly turnover in the period from 26 December 2019 to 12 October 2020 in the case of a business established during that period, or
- the average weekly turnover in the period from 13 October 2020 to 26 July 2021 in the case of a business established during that period.
Extension to the Debt Warehousing Scheme for certain businesses
The Government has confirmed that Period 1 (“the Covid restricted trading phase”) of the Debt Warehousing Scheme will be extended by three months to 31 March 2022 (instead of 31 December 2021) for taxpayers eligible for the COVID-19 support schemes. This means tax debts arising for such businesses in the first three months of 2022 can be warehoused. Period 2 (“the zero interest phase”) of the Debt Warehousing Scheme will now begin for those businesses on 1 April 2022 and run until 31 March 2023.
Revenue will provide further information on the extension of the scheme announced today in January when it will publish an update to its Information Booklet on Debt Warehousing.
Further details on the operation of these COVID-19 business support schemes can be found on the Institute’s COVID-19 HUB.