Finance makes U-turn over next year's tax return deadline
THE Government has rowed back on plans to force hundreds of thousands of self-employed people and farmers to pay and file their taxes earlier than normal next year.
There will be no change to next year's deadline of the end of October, with those who file on line having an extra two weeks to file.
But the Department of Finance said no decision had been made yet for the date for paying and filing in 2015.
In a statement it said: "Following a consultation process in relation to changes required to the pay-and-file dates, the Minister for Finance has decided not to introduce any changes to the pay and file regime for 2014.
"The minister's intention to bring annual pay and file dates forward remains, in order to provide increased certainty around the annual tax take and forecasting process following the move to an earlier Budget day.
"However, it has been decided that it would be more appropriate to make any necessary changes by means of the Finance Bill 2014. These would then take effect, at the earliest, from 2015."
The move comes after farmers' bodies and business groups said there was a large risk that fewer self-employed people and farmers would pay their tax.
With Budgets now taking place in October rather than December, the Department of Finance has proposed moving the pay-and-file deadline to an earlier date – either the end of June or mid-September – from next year onwards.
This could have meant the 600,000 who file a return paying another one seven months after this year's deadline.
A large number of organisations, including Chartered Accountants Ireland and the Irish Tax Institute, expressed concerns over the proposed changes. They said the quality of tax returns filed would be affected and there would be a significant cash-flow impact for business from the changes.
An earlier date for paying and filing the tax was due to be included in the committee stage of the Finance Bill but that plan has been dropped following massive opposition.
A survey of tax practitioners found that seven out of 10 of their clients would not have good enough information in June to allow them to meet a new early tax and file deadline.
Some 600,000 people are expected to file tax returns by the end of this month, with self-employed accounting for some 40pc of these.
Under new European rules, the Budget has been moved to October 15.
To meet this new deadline, the Department of Finance wants to bring the pay-and-file date forward so that officials have all the information needed to finalise the earlier Budget.
The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) said moving the filing date would put the viability of family farms at risk.
It added: "Changes to the pay-and-file dates for tax returns would undermine the tax compliance ability of Irish farmers, disrupt agricultural production at farm level, and ultimately the viability and sustainability of the family farm," the IFA said.