'Carbon audit' not required to secure SME energy subsidy
Revenue has clarified that businesses are not legally required to submit a carbon footprint audit to be eligible for energy subsidies this winter.
The tax agency has updated its guidance on the Temporary Business Energy Subsidy Scheme (TBESS) to say that completing the Climate Tookit 4 Business questionnaire is not a legal requirement and has no impact on the assessment of a firm’s eligibility.
An earlier version of the guidance said applicants for TBESS were “required to complete a carbon footprint exercise” and affirm that they were taking steps to reduce energy use and environmental impact.
The new text merely says that the toolkit is part of a Government policy to increase awareness of energy consumption.
The toolkit asks firms to supply utility bills or data on resources usage – including the weight of the waste the company produces – and provides recommended actions to reduce their environmental impact.
The change came earlier this month as TBESS opened for registration and claims from businesses that have experienced major increases in their energy bills since September.
The scheme, which was announced in Budget 2023 with a cost of €1.25bn, will pay up to €10,000 a month to qualifying companies that have seen their bills go up by at least 50pc.
But some firms were not happy that the initial guidance said they had to provide data on waste, compost and recycling in addition to electricity and gas usage to apply for help.
With only a short window to make a claim that would be paid in 2022, some accountants were concerned that companies in need of financial assistance would be delayed by the extra requirements.
The extra requirements came on top of other criteria including tax clearance certificates and proof of increased energy costs to claim the subsidy, potentially impeding access to the funds at a critical time for businesses.
Companies that make qualifying claims for September, October and November by next week will be paid by the end of the year.
Businesses were already rushing to apply for up-to-date tax clearance certificates so they could get access to energy subsidies before 2023.
Applications for eTax clearance from Revenue doubled year-on-year in November, with 20,000 companies seeking the certification to comply with TBESS eligibility rules.
Revenue is hosting a webinar today (Wednesday) to explain the registration and claims process.