Is The Wage Subsidy Taxable?

Revenue has stated that the Covid Wage Subsidy will be subject to USC and Income Tax eventually – but not while it is being paid out.

As we understand it – employees will be liable for any tax on the subsidy amount by way of review at the end of the tax year.
(There will also be Tax due on the Covid Unemployment Payment )

When an end of year tax review takes place, it could be the case that an employee’s unused tax credits will cover any tax liability that may arise. (More likely in lower-paid jobs / part-time workers or where people don’t return to full employment.)
Where this is not the case, it is normal Revenue practice to collect any tax owing by reducing an individual’s tax credits for a future year . This just passes the tax liability to the following year and results in it being spread out evenly over the year.

Will You Have to Repay Income Tax and USC ?

In general – for many people it will mean an underpayment of income tax of between 20% and 40% of the total wage subsidy received.
Plus USC underpayments of about 4.5% of the total subsidy received.

People on a wage of around €25k to €40k will owe 20% of the subsidy.
People on wages higher than €40k will owe more – gradually rising to 40% as wages approach €50k. See table below for examples.

Important Tax Rebates

Some people on the subsidy scheme may have been paid rebates of income tax and USC through their wages whilst on the wage subsidy . These rebates will also be owed to Revenue on top if full employment resumes as shown in the examples.

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Taxation of Wage Subsidy Example

Single Employee earning €700 a week gross (€36400 annually).
Cut off Point €35300 ; Tax Credit €3300

In the first 3 months of the year they earn their full salary.
In March, April and May they get €350 a week (untaxed) on the wage subsidy scheme – a total of €4550 .
In June they go back to work on the same full salary of €700 a week for the remaining 6 months of the year.
Total income in 2020 = €31,850
For a single worker the normal deductions due in 2020 on an annual income of €31,850 would be:-

  • Income Tax €3070
  • USC would be €756.
  • PRSI €1274

Actual Deductions Made.

Because the Covid payment was non taxable – the total taxable income was reduced to €27300. Deductions made on that would have been :

  • Income Tax €2160
  • USC €551
  • PRSI €1091

This means there will be underpayments.
Income Tax underpayment of €910
USC underpayment of €205
PRSI – no underpayment because the subsidy is not liable for PRSI

More Examples in the Table Below

(All based on single person getting €350 a week subsidy for 13 weeks and going back on full employment after 13 weeks)

Annual Gross
Wage in 2020
Nine Months Wage Plus Subsidy €23300€28550€31850€36050€38300€42050
Income Tax due on above€1360€2410€3070€4060€4960€6460
USC due on above€371€608€757€945€1046€1215
Taxable Pay (without subsidy) in 2020€18750€24000€27300€31500€33750€37500
Actual Tax Paid 2020€450€1500€2160€3000€3450€4640
Actual USC paid 2020€195€403€551€740€842€1010
Tax Underpaid€910€910€910€1060€1510€1820
USC Underpaid€176€205€205€205€205€205

Hopefully any outstanding tax and USC will be collected by Revenue reducing tax credits. This will mean any repaments will be spread out over 2021 and will be easier to cope with than a lump sum payment.

Income Tax rebates may have been given to the employees by Revenue during the wage subsidy period. These rebates will also need to be paid back in the situations shown above.

All calculations are based on the information available to us at the time. This is a guide to what to expect. Revenue will decide the exact method of calculation – so do not rely on these figures.

More information on the Tax due on the Covid Unemployment Payment

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