Government ignoring small firms in crisis

Government does not support sole traders in the way it supports other sectors

Sir, – I am a 56-year-old mother of one and a sole trader. I have been in business in Wicklow town for almost 15 years now. Initially I bought a small business as an investment and more recently (nearly three years ago) opened an additional business in the town. I currently employ 10 people (both full time and part time). I am writing in relation to what our Government and specifically the Revenue are doing to small businesses and sole traders. The crux of the matter is that I have received a €9,000 income tax bill (because I am a sole trader) on monies that were given to me during and post-lockdown to support my business and my employees. The mind-blowing aspect of this bill is that my business recorded a loss of €35,000.

While I appreciate that the monies received allowed my business to continue it was not money that was paid to me personally (ie it didn’t feed my family, pay my rent, or, as some people seem to think, allow me to buy luxuries or travel). These monies literally supported my business. I am at a loss as to how this makes sense. There are many elements to it.

I do not have any legally binding agreement with the Government or the Revenue for the receipt of the money paid but acknowledge that I did apply for these supports. Had I been aware that it would now put me in this position I may have reconsidered that.

My business shows a loss of €35,000 (as mentioned) and the income tax is being asked for on the supports paid.


I complied with the Government’s instructions to restrict my business, use screens and masks, sanitisers and all other personal protective equipment instructions.

I complied with the Government’s instructions to shut my business and I did so, unlike many others in my sector who continued behind closed doors.

I complied with payment of income tax the previous year on the pandemic unemployment payment which I was grateful to receive during lockdown.

I complied and now it appears that I am being punished for that compliance.

Now, like many other small businesses and sole traders I’m sure, my only way to survive is to enter a legally binding arrangement with the Revenue to repay this money with the Revenue aware of the fact that my business shows a trading loss of €35,000.

My business focuses on wellbeing but quite honestly it is very difficult to remain positive when my only options at the moment are either to enter into an agreement that makes absolutely no sense and that will put enormous financial pressure on both me and my business, or shut down completely, leaving me and 10 other people unemployed.

Do the maths – my business is showing a loss of €35,000. It has been a struggle anyway but things had finally started to turn around post-lockdown. People were moving out of fear and into autonomy again or at least that was the way it seemed until the wheels of fear-mongering began to turn again with rising energy costs, etc.

The 15 years I have been in business has not all been a bed of roses. Our Government does not support sole traders in the way it supports other sectors. I have survived recession, lockdown and my own personal struggles and I really do not want to give up now. I do find myself asking the question: what is the point? The answer to that for me is that I love what I do and I truly believe that what I do and what the people that work with me do makes a difference to other people’s lives – to their mental and physical wellbeing.

Does the Government want to see my business, and I’m sure many other small businesses, close in the coming months because it offers support with one hand while taking it back with the other? The socio-economic harms of the past three years are now well documented and known. What happens now? – Yours, etc,