Revenue clampdown could spoil the office party as taxes hit workplace celebrations

Seen & Heard: Bank of Ireland motor finance redress, CIÉ site proceedings, future of Tara Mines, Dublin Airport cap poll and Porterhouse sale of brewery to Conor McGregor

The Revenue Commissioners could hit Irish workers with taxes on Christmas lunches and retirement parties, the Sunday Times reports.

Employees could be on the hook for taxes on such workplace events because of a Revenue clampdown on how companies account for entertainment expenses, it said. Tax officials are understood by the newspaper to have begun a series of audits of the expenditure that businesses make on staff outings to determine whether the workers involved unwittingly owe benefit-in-kind taxes.

Revenue said there had been no change in policy regarding expenses, but tax practitioners have reported a “hardening of positions”. It is understood that Revenue officials are examining cases where either entertainment was not open to all employees or it involved the provision of hospitality to clients.

The Sunday Independent reported on a similar crackdown last summer.


Bank of Ireland redress

Bank of Ireland may have to pay £100 million (€117 million) in redress costs after a UK watchdog review into car dealer commissions, according to the Sunday Independent.

Stock analysts at JP Morgan estimated the provision the bank would have to make in light of the cross-industry review of motor finance commissions launched by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority after a surge in customer complaints and claims. British bank Lloyds is likely to be worst affected, requiring an estimated provision of £1.2 billion, followed by Barclays with £300 million, it said.

In a separate note, Bank of Ireland was among the bank stocks deemed “unattractive” by the analysts, which said banks had outperformed for three consecutive years, but it now believed this phase was over.

CIÉ v Johnny Ronan

Public transport provider CIÉ has lodged court proceedings to repossess a site at Tara Street from Johnny Ronan’s Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE), the Sunday Times writes.

The semi-state body initiated the proceedings last Thursday. The row centres on the half-acre site at Tara Street rail station. CIÉ entered an agreement with RGRE in 2015 that the developer would build out the site. The transport provider now claims that RGRE cannot meet a deadline for completion of the planned 22-storey building and argues it is in breach of its agreement for the lease on the site because it did not make a ground lease payment in November.

Tara Mines future

“Radical and transformative” change will be required if Tara Mines is to have a “sustainable future”, a confidential report seen by the Business Post has warned.

The PwC report, commissioned by Boliden Tara Mines, “identified a number of key issues” that need to be addressed for the mine to secure its future. “This will have to include a significant reduction in operating costs, including reductions in headcount, overtime and total reward, and elimination of wasteful practices,” the report states.

The consultants also identified an “inflexibility” in the operation of the mine, which was placed into care and maintenance last year, putting 650 jobs at risk. Discussions with trade unions about the rescue plan are “ongoing”, according to a spokeswoman for Tara Mines quoted by the newspaper.

McGregor and Porterhouse brewery

The former Porterhouse brewery, now owned by controversial MMA star Conor McGregor as the base for his new stout, would have been at risk of closing had it not been sold to him, a Porterhouse director has told the Sunday Independent.

Elliot Hughes said the brewery, which opened in Glasnevin in 2017, had been “under pressure from the very start” and that Covid had exacerbated issues in the on-trade market. “I think realistically, if there was no sale, it would have been a struggle to keep it going for another year,” he told the newspaper.

The acquisition by Mr McGregor led to a backlash against Porterhouse from some craft beer fans, but Mr Hughes said it was “best for the business and all involved”. Porterhouse continues to operate its network of pubs and craft beer business, which other breweries are now brewing.

Dublin Airport passenger cap

Twice as many people favour increasing passenger capacity at Dublin Airport than oppose it, a Red C poll conducted for the Business Post has found.

Some 47 per cent of people believe the State’s busiest airport should be allowed to increase the current cap on passengers, compared to 21 per cent who said the cap should remain. A third of people, 32 per cent, have no strong opinion.

The DAA, which operates Dublin and Cork airports, has applied to increase the capacity at Dublin from 32 million to 40 million passengers. Support for increasing the cap is higher among men, people aged 35-plus, those on higher social grades, Fianna Fáil voters and Fine Gael supporters, it said.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics