Employer told to return €2.24 million in Covid support payments

Revenue Commissioners argued that employer failed to demonstrate its business would experience a 30 per cent reduction in turnover

An employer has been ordered to repay €2.24 million in Covid-19 wage supports to the Revenue Commissioners.

The order followed a Tax Appeals Commission (TAC) finding that Revenue was correct in issuing a €2.24 million assessment in July 2022.

The Employer Wage Subsidy Support (EWSS) payment was wrongly claimed by the employer, who was not named, from July 2020 to August 2021.

In 2021, the employer also claimed further EWSS payments for September, October and November 2021 totaling €355,364 and these payments were withheld by Revenue.


The Revenue Commissioners issued the €2.24 million assessment on the basis the employer had failed to demonstrate its business had expected to experience a 30 per cent reduction in turnover during the relevant periods during the pandemic.

Commissioner Simon Noone had concluded the employer applied the wrong comparative revenue test when seeking to justify its EWSS claims.

Mr Noone said the employer was not entitled to use figures calculated on a retrospective basis to claim for EWSS payments.

At the TAC, Revenue contended the employer failed to carry out rolling reviews and that it had understated its turnover or sales figures for the relevant periods.

The Revenue Commissioners stated that when the employer’s own sales figures were applied to the statutory test, the employer was ineligible for each month.

In initial figures provided, the employer recorded a turnover of €1.27 million from July to December 2020 compared to a July to December 2019 turnover of €1.63 million – a drop of 22 per cent.

In the period from January to December 2021, the company recorded revenues of €2.46 million compared to revenues of €3.2 million from January to December 2019 – a drop of 24.65 per cent.

Revenue stated that as the employer’s figures failed to show a reduction of 30 per cent for any of the “specified periods”, “the appeal was doomed to fail”.

Thirty six hours before the TAC hearing into the case, the employer lodged revised figures and Revenue stated the employer had not only failed to carry out rolling reviews in real-time as required but it had submitted figures that were incorrect.

Revenue said the approach of the employer to apply for EWSS payments for every month, and then work out afterwards if it was entitled to them, was not in compliance with the statute.

At the hearing, the employer lodged revised figures showing it owed Revenue €1.09 million in EWSS repayments, but was entitled to a further €1 million for months not granted or claimed, leaving a “net liability” of €84,951.

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Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times