Revenue urges businesses to pay €1.8bn in warehoused Covid debt

Record tax year down to high compliance, says Niall Cody as Revenue estimates €3.2 billion owed by businesses and taxpayers

Businesses owing almost €1.8 billion in Covid-era taxes should make realistic plans to repay their debts by May 1st this year, Revenue Commissioner Ruth Kennedy urged on Friday.

Revenue calculates that €1.756 billion in taxes “warehoused” under a Government scheme to aid businesses in dealing with State pandemic restrictions remains unpaid. Businesses that availed of the scheme have until May 1st, 2024 to clear this debt, Ms Kennedy pointed out in Revenue’s 2023 review.

She urged them to “start making realistic plans” to repay their debts, based on their circumstances.

“We are ready to work with businesses so that they can secure the viability of their business into the future while still meeting the requirements of the debt warehousing scheme,” Ms Kennedy added.


The comments come a day after high-profile chef restaurateur Gareth “Gaz” Smith said the looming May deadline was the “biggest fear” for publicans and restaurateurs this year.

“Every single restaurateur and publican I know is concerned about that. That they just get through the first quarter by the skin of their teeth and run into quicksand with that. I think it will be the one that will have people handing back their keys,” he said, urging the Government to push the deadline out another nine or 12 months.

Outside the scheme, Ms Kennedy confirmed that taxpayers owed Revenue €1.4 billion, partly because the authority suspended enforcement for a considerable period during the past four years.

“This has had an impact on timeliness of payments and the level of debt,” she noted, pointing out that four years ago the comparable figure was €900 million.

She advised taxpayers facing difficulties paying on time to contact Revenue to work out a solution.

“In the absence of meaningful and timely engagement with Revenue, Revenue will proceed with appropriate collection and enforcement action to recover the debt,” Ms Kennedy warned.

Revenue seized a record €302 million worth of illegal drugs last year, commissioner and director general of customs, Gerry Harrahill, noted in the review, published on Friday. The haul included €157 million worth of cocaine found on board the MV Matthew in a joint operation involving Customs, An Garda Síochána, Naval Service and Defence Forces.

Revenue said it would work with affected companies and agents on implementing new corporation tax rules due to come into force from the beginning of this year, said Revenue chairman, Niall Cody.

Mr Cody acknowledged that the record €87.2 billion paid by workers and businesses to the exchequer last year resulted from “high timely compliance” across all taxes.

“This reflects very positive engagement by businesses, individual taxpayers and agents with their tax compliance obligations,” he added.

“Revenue supports this culture by providing a wide range of services to make it as easy as possible for taxpayers to pay the right amount of tax at the right time.”

Mr Cody added that the Revenue also confronted and tackled all noncompliance.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas