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.