Overtaxed substitute teachers to be repaid

Temporary staff have had hundreds of euro wrongly deducted from their wages

Minister for Education  Joe McHugh said overtaxed substitute teachers will be repaid in full as soon as possible. Photograph: Alan Betson

Minister for Education Joe McHugh said overtaxed substitute teachers will be repaid in full as soon as possible. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The Department of Education is to repay substitute staff who were taxed the wrong amount due to a software glitch earlier this month.

Substitute teachers who were employed on a temporary basis were overtaxed and received about half of their expected wages .

A spokesman for the Department said the issue was being given its “highest priority” and staff affected will be repaid in full.

The issue is confined to substitute staff who were paid in the first and second payrolls of 2019.

“Payroll division, IT and Revenue are working in close cooperation to secure a speedy and permanent solution,” a spokesman said.

He said any substitute teacher affected by this issue can contact the Department seeking a letter confirming that the issue arose as a result of PAYE changes being implemented by the Department and Revenue.

“All unnecessary tax deductions that were taken will be repaid in full at the next available opportunity,” the spokesman said.

Fianna Fáil education spokesman Thomas Byrne criticised what he described as an “incredible blunder”.

He also criticised Minister for Education Joe McHugh for not announcing when teachers will be repaid.

“You are the employer. You are required to pay the wages of staff. We need a manual, all-hands-on-deck approach to ensure cheques get written. It’s not good enough to say, ‘wait for Revenue to repay your tax’.”

Speaking in the Dáil, Mr McHugh said he was acutely aware that many substitute staff rely on this money to pay for rent or mortgages and he was treating it with the highest priority.

He said the Department and Revenue are in close contact to ensure staff will be repaid in full as soon as possible.

Payroll files

The issue arose during January which the new PAYE modernisation system was applied for the first time.

Payroll files which transferred to Revenue inadvertently included an end date for substitute staff which informed Revenue that these staff would not be paid under this employer number in the future.

The Department said this notification caused Revenue to immediately reduce the tax credits and cut off points to zero for this cohort of staff.

This meant that when they were next paid, there were no tax credits available to be applied to the salary if they were paid on subsequent departmental payrolls.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) has urged the Department and Revenue to resolve the issue and ensure “hard pressed subs are refunded the over-deducted tax as soon as possible”.

One teacher told The Irish Times that responses from the Government so far have been “vague and unsympathetic”.

“I have emailed the Department looking for written clarification about what is happening and they have not yet responded,” the teacher said.

It is amazing that a Government department can make such an error and leave so many out of pocket without so much as an email to explain the situation. This is both disgraceful and unacceptable.”