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Your Questions: Why am I getting more than normal on the wage subsidy scheme?



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Question: My employer has put me on the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme as of this month. I just received my payslip and I have come out with €54 more than normal. I spoke to my friend in another department and he's actually down €29. I can't figure it out; why might this be?

Answer: This is most likely down to the taxation of the subsidy, according to Marc O'Dwyer, chief executive of accounting software company Big Red Cloud. He said that although the subsidy payment is subject to income tax, PRSI, and USC, this is not deducted through payroll.

This is causing some confusion among employers and employees alike. Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) payments will be liable for tax at the end of the year, and it has yet to be clarified exactly how this will be repaid to Revenue by employees. The exact amount payable will differ for everyone as it will be impacted by other factors. Those can include other employments or income an employee has, medical expenses they have paid, etc. It's likely that any tax due won't all have to be paid in one go, Mr O'Dwyer said. It could be dealt with by reduced tax credits over a certain time period, depending on the amount owed.

As it stands, employees in receipt of the payment currently remain on a cumulative tax basis. This is triggering tax and USC refunds for some employees.

There is a misconception out there that all employees on the TWSS will get the same net pay into their hands. That won't necessarily happen. Firstly, the wage subsidy is set at 70pc of their average net pay (as of May 4 this will be increased to 85pc for certain eligible employees) and if the employer doesn't top it up, that's all they get.

Alternatively, the employer might top up only a certain portion rather than the full amount. Mr O'Dwyer advises reviewing your payslip to see if a refund of tax/USC is included. Revenue has insisted that any money to be paid back to it will be relatively small.

Question: My house insurance is up for renewal at the end of May. I am a bit concerned what impact Covid-19 will have on my premium and whether it will go up. I'm hearing different things from different people. Some say prices are going up, and others say they are dropping due to fewer claims being made. What's my best bet?

Answer: The best advice is to use any spare time you have on your hands at the moment to shop around and do some comparisons. You could be looking at a difference of anywhere from €50 to €150 between the various insurance providers.

People can often be slow to change home insurers, particularly now when everything around us seems so uncertain, according to Deirdre McCarthy of Insuremyhouse.ie.

But there's a good chance you can make big savings if you do. Premiums are in flux at the moment given the impact of the pandemic, she said. People are at home more, so there is a higher risk of incidents and claims being made. The flip-side of this, however, is that due to us being at home more, the incidence of theft and break-in has reduced, which is having a dampening effect on the cost of premiums. Shopping around for a renewal is also a good time to find out if you are over-insured. Over-insurance occurs when a customer insures their property to the market value of their home, rather than the cost to rebuild it if anything were to happen, Ms McCarthy said.

Question: As luck would have it, both my NCT and my driver's licence renewals are falling due in the next few months. The former at the end of April and the latter at the beginning of June. As far as I know, the test centres are closed. I'm worried about my insurance policy that I took out in January. Will it still be valid? What if I'm stopped by the gardaí?

Answer: The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has recently provided clarity on this. The renewal date for your NCT test has been extended by four months, as has your driver's licence, according to the managing director of InsureMyCars.ie Jonathan Hehir. Gardaí have been made aware of these changes so there should be no issue for you if you are stopped, he said.

Insurers have agreed to adhere to the RSA changes, so policies will remain valid for the specified time period. You must still display your previous NCT certificate. Mr Hehir said motor tax renewal dates have not changed so if this is falling due soon, his advice is to renew on time.

The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme payments are subject to income tax, PRSI, and USC, but this is not deducted through payroll.

The Road Safety Authority has clarified that the renewal date for the NCT test has been extended by four months, as has the renewal date for driving licences.

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