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VAT on online sales

The European Commission has adopted a package of measures aimed at making the VAT treatment of telecommunications, broadcasting and electronic services more business friendly.
Currently such services are taxed where the EU supplier is established. In addition non-EU suppliers must charge VAT in the Member State where the customer is established.
Many businesses have incorporated businesses in Luxembourg to avail of that jurisdiction’s low VAT rates for electronic services.
From 1st January 2015, telecommunications, broadcasting and electronic services will be taxed where the consumer is established or resides.
In the future the Commission will seek to extend the new treatment step by step to other goods and services. This complies with the notion that fundamentally, VAT is a tax on consumption, and should therefore be charged at the place of consumption.

Revenue & the Sheriff

The Collector General & the Revenue Commissioners have carried out almost 32,000 enforcement proceedures during 2012 recovering €210m.
The most common enforcement type was the appointment of County & City Sheriffs to collect debt amounting to almost €150m. This occurred on over 22,000 occasions.
Sheriffs fees can be in the region of 2% of the debt – resulting in an additional €3m in fees paid by the hard pressed tax payers.
Not bad work if you can get it!

Report of Comptroller and Auditor General Published

The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General for 2011 has been published. In relation to tax and Revenue it includes a number of interesting points:
• Income tax receipts increased by a net €2.5 billion (bn) in 2011 when compared with 2010, reflecting the introduction of the Universal Social Charge (USC) and the reduction in tax bands and credits.
• Tax forecasting has been made more difficult with the emergence of significant corporation tax losses. The utilisation of losses in 2010 is estimated to have reduced potential corporation tax receipts by €2.75bn.
• A new debt analysis tool was introduced on a pilot basis in February to allow Revenue case workers prioritise the recovery of debt by reference to the age of the debt. It also allows them to determine the type and timing of interventions to maximise recovery.
• Total tax outstanding at the end of March 2012 was just under €2bn. The two largest categories of debt outstanding are income tax and VAT. Overall, about one third of the debt outstanding was under appeal.
• 3 economic sectors accounted for 59% of the total tax written off in 2011; construction, wholesale and retail trade and accommodation and food services. The majority of these write offs arose due to liquidations and the trade ceasing with insufficient liquid assets
Thanks to the Institute of Tax for the above summary.

New Collector-General appointed

Revenue has announced that they have appointed Michael Gladney as the new Collector-General. Mr Gladney headed up Revenue’s Limerick Tax District & South West Region’s Large Enterprise Audit Unit, prior to his appointment as Collector-General.

The previous Collector-General, Gerry Harrahill has been assigned as head of Revenue’s Corporate Affairs and Customs Division

DoesYour Company Qualify for a Tax Credit?


    Since its introduction in 2004, the research and development (“R&D”) tax credit has been improved and extended. Since 2009, cash refunds of unused R&D credits can be claimed. Finance Act 2012 has further improvements, including rewarding some staff by transferring R&D credits to them to claim income tax relief. A recent survey suggests fewer than 20% of Irish companies have made claims, so many companies must be missing out on this valuable relief. As defined, R&D is much broader than many realise, and covers far more than white- coated technicians in labs. Consider its potential application to your company, particularly if a cash refund is possible.

Expenditure that qualifies

    Certain criteria must be met to be “qualifying activities” for the R&D credit, including the areas of science and technology where work was carried out. In some areas, R&D activity is obvious (e.g. pharmaceuticals) but software development, engineering, food production, health and agriculture are other areas where relief may be available. Companies often underestimate the categories of qualifying R&D expenditure. In addition to direct R&D costs, indirect expenses (support staff wages, rent, and many others) can be included by reasonable apportionment.

General overview

    If it meets the conditions, a company can claim a corporation tax credit equal to 25% of its “incremental” expenditure on qualifying R&D activities over the “base year” spending level. The R&D credit is in addition to the “normal” 12.5% deduction. The incremental qualifying expenditure may be capital (a new building or machine) or revenue (salaries, materials) in nature, with direct and indirect expenditure qualifying. Grant-aided expenditure does not qualify. The activities need not be carried out in Ireland. Though aimed mainly at in-house R&D activity, sub-contracted work can qualify, subject to monetary limits.

Method of claiming credit

    The claim is included in the corporation tax return, Form CT1. While no supporting documentation is needed on making a claim, it should be in place as Revenue often audit R&D claims, particularly where cash refunds of unused R&D credits arise.

Time limit for claims

    Claims must be made within one year of the end of the accounting period in which the R&D expenditure was incurred. Any R&D tax credit not claimed by then is lost.

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