Concern over moving pay and file date for self-employed

Finance Committee to discuss moving deadline from October to June or September

There is growing opposition among senior politicians from all parties to Government plans to change the pay and file deadline for self-employed business and individuals to an earlier date in the year.

For many years, the pay and file deadline for the self-employed has been October 3st1 for manual returns, and three weeks later for online returns.

But following adoption of the new 'Two-Pack' rules in the Eurozone States, the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has indicated he may move the date forward to an earlier date from 2014, to either June or September. This is as a result of the requirement to frame an earlier Budget.

But TDs from Government parties, from the opposition, and a number of professional bodies have expressed strong concerns about the move, arguing that it may cause cash-flow problems for self-employed individuals and small companies, will cause huge disruptions, as well as reduce the high level of accuracy of Revenue data on this cohort.


Arising from those concerns, the chair of the Oireachtas Finance Committee Ciarán Lynch has convened a meeting of the committee today where chief executive of The Irish Taxation Institute Mark Redmond will outline its concerns about the change.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Lynch pointed to the Institute's argument that the quality of tax returns filed would be affected and there would be a significant cash-flow impact for business from the changes.

In its submission on the issue the Institute has said that bringing forward the date will lead to increased inaccuracies.

Advanced pay and file date would only lead to increased accuracies that might lead to revisions being required after the filing date. That, it has contended, would create additional administrative costs for taxpayers and Revenue and compromise the certainty of the figures.

Its central argument is that it would place a “high level of strain” on compliance levels and have an adverse effect on small businesses, the self-employed and tax practititioners “without justifiable reason”.

Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesman Michael McGrath has argued along similar lines in his submission.

In November last year, the overall figure of returns was approximately €1 billion and Mr McGrath said the accuracy of forecasting receipts from this sector had increased steadily since 2008.

He said even if the budget estimates were off profile by 15 per cent, it would amount to only €150m or less than half of one per cent of all tax revenues.

“This figure is not sufficient to justify the level of disruption and risk to the Self- Assessment system that would result from a change of date.”

He also the change would hit 600,000 small businesses and sole traders. “Many of these are already struggling to maintain adequate working capital to sustain their business,” he said.

Labour TD Kevin Humphreys said yesterday that tax compliance was at its highest level ever with 98 per cent of preliminary income tax from self-assessed taxpayers being paid. "However, these compliance levels could be negatively affected by making a fundamental change to a Pay and File regime that is working so well," he said.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times