In light of the taxation issues, the most prevalent method in respect of payment of employee expenses is by the re-imbursement of vouched expenses i.e. repayment to the employee of expences actually incurred for which they have appropriate receipts for. When such payments are made to the employee and the payment is no more than reimbursement of a receipted expense, it is not treated as pay for tax purposes.
Other methods of dealing with employee expenses include:-
Flat rate employment expenses.
A standard flat rate expenses deduction is set for various classes of employee’s. The amount of the deduction is agreed between Revenue and representatives of groups or classes of employees in advance (usually the employees are represented by trade union officials). Such groups of employees that are entitled to this flat rate expense include nurses, teachers, firemen, journalists, certain professions/trades employed by the civil service and local authorities, shop assistants to name a few. A detailed list is available on the revenue website.
Round Sum expenses.
This is where the employer agrees to pay an employee an agreed amount each pay period in addition to normal salary to cover expenses. The expense amount agreed is treated as “Pay” and is taxable in the same way as if it were part of the normal salary payment.
Meal allowances: In the same way as agreed flat rate expenses, where employers pay a sum towards the costs of employee’s meals, it is treated as taxable pay.
Where an employer provides luncheon or meal vouchers to employees, the value of the voucher (excluding the first 19 c per voucher) must be treated as pay and appropriate PAYE/PRSI deducted in the normal manner.
Where an employer provides free or subsidised meals in a staff canteen for staff generally, the value of the meals provided to employees are not treated as pay for tax purposes. However, the facility must be available to all employees in the company. If the facility is only available for certain employees, then the exemption will not apply and tax will need to be deducted on the value of the meals to the employees entitled to the facility.
We are all familiar with the expenses that we are allowed to claim a tax deduction for in our accounts. They typically include items like rent, insurances, print and advertising costs, wages and salaries, to name but a few. However, there are items that often cause much debate as to whether they are tax deductible or not. The main culprits I have found that can cause confusion are food and meal expenses and entitlement to claim mileage and subsistence allowances.
For self employed individuals, the rules relating to food and meals are actually quite clear – the cost of meals taken at the place of business are not allowable for tax purposes. Meals consumed away from the place of business are, in general, not regarded as being for the purposes of the business. This may seem a bit unfair – after all we’re not necessarily talking about expensive lunches in fine dining establishments on a daily basis. Who has the time, budget and metabolism for that anyhow? Most of us are more likely to opt for a quick take away sandwich from the shop/cafe closest the office, so why is it not a business expense? Well, Revenue’s view point on food and meals is that everyone must eat in order to live, so whether you are working or not, you still have to eat. If you think about it, for anyone that is a PAYE employee, you have to pay for your own lunch/food costs and cannot claim any tax credit/relief for having to do so, so why as self employed individual would this same cost now be regarded as a business expense? The Revenue do recognise that obviously, where the fundamental nature of a business involves travelling – an example they give is that of a long distance lorry driver, or where occasional business journeys outside the normal pattern are made, then the cost of meals maybe allowed as an expense.
So, what about civil service mileage rates and subsistence allowances? Well that’s for the next blog post.
Business owners, more than ever, need to have a proactive approach in managing their business. We need to be able to detect and identify warning signs of potential problems and know what steps to take as soon as problems become apparent. Problems rarely arise suddenly. It is more usually a gradual process, as a result of a variety of circumstances either external or internal. External causes cannot always be predicted with accuracy in advance. Internal factors however, may, in many cases be capable of being foreseen.
Businesses will usually have expert skills and experience in the area of activity the business operates.
No matter how good a product or service is, skills and experience in areas such as business planning, financial reporting, marketing, customer relations and financial management cannot be taken for granted. Running a successful business requires not only good creative and operational skills but good business skills too. If these skills are not available in-house, then the business will need to source these skills from specialist advisors.
Advice from professionally qualified financial accountants should be sought regularly, at all the stages of business life. Some of the many benefits of this include being able to take advantage of any opportunities of growth and to anticipate any threats to the survival of the business and reacting to them promptly. The key areas that a professionally qualified accountant usually provide expert advice is in regards to accounting, financial planning and credit management. Advice in areas such as bookkeeping and financial reporting practices and sound business practice should also be utilised in order to produce high quality financial information, which sets the ground for the efficient and effective growth and the survival of the business.
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