Sunday 25 February 2018

Q&A by Charlie Weston

Q So, what has happened?

A Huge pressure from farmers and the self-employed has forced the Government to drop plans to make them file their tax returns earlier than normal next year.

But the Department of Finance said no decision had been made yet for the date for paying and filing in 2015.

Q Why is the Government proposing a change to the date when the self-employed and farmers file their tax returns?

A The Department of Finance wanted to bring the pay-and-file date forward so that officials have all the information needed to finalise the earlier Budget.

Budgets are now in October instead of December, as part of new EU rules.

Because of this, the department had proposed moving the pay-and-file deadline to either the end of June or mid-September.

Submissions had been sought from the public on the proposed changes.

Q How many people are impacted by this?

A Some 600,000 people file tax returns either by the end of October, or by the second week in November if they file online.

Q What were the objections?

A Bodies that represent retailers and small firms said jobs would be lost, if they had to file a tax return and pay their annual tax by next June - just seven months after filing and paying this year.

And farmers' bodies, such as the Irish Farmers Association, said many of its members would simply not be able to pay tax earlier than usual.

This would give rise to a tax compliance issue - thousands of farmers failing to pay their tax, the IFA said.

Many small firms and farmers would not have the money to pay tax ahead of the normal deadline.

And accountancy and tax bodies said the quality of tax returns filed would be affected, and there would be a significant cash-flow impact for business from the changes.

Q Will this impact me as I am a PAYE worker?

A If you have income outside the PAYE (pay as you earn) system – such as dividends, rents, interest income or investment returns – you have to file and pay tax in October each year.

So a change in the pay-and-file date would impact on you.

And from next year, those with unearned income (rents and interest) will have to pay PRSI (pay related social insurance) on interest income they earn if their unearned income exceeds €31,734 in a year.

Irish Independent

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