Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) Update 6th January 2021
Revenue have issued a number of updates to their guidance notes on CRSS, with their most recent update being on 31 December 2020. The more important points are summarised below.
1. Time limit to claim
A taxpayer has a time limit of 8 weeks only to claim CRSS, from the commencement of each claim period.
2. Interaction with Revenue
A taxpayer can appeal against Revenue’s determination that they do not qualify – but this appeal must be made within 30 days.
There is explicit mention in Revenue’s guidance notes of the interest, penalties and threat of publication that can arise where taxpayers incorrectly claim CRSS.
3. Seasonal businesses
Seasonal businesses that would normally operate during the Summer, can still claim, but only if they had intended to open during the restricted period.
4. Fixed Business Premises
Please be aware of Revenue’s interpretation of what is and is not regarded as a “Fixed Business Premises”. See the Appendix below for a list of what Revenue state does not qualify.
Where there are multiple “Fixed Business Premises”, this is regarded as a single trading activity. Therefore, only 1 claim can be made for all premises. However, each premises must qualify in its own right. This can be important where, for example, restrictions apply in some geographical areas only.
As regards any online activity:
• Generally, any online sales forms part of the overall trading activity.
• Where there are multiple “Fixed Business Premises”, online sales should be divided between the various premises on a just and reasonable basis.
Where only some of the business activity ordinarily takes place from the “Fixed Business Premises”, then only those activities qualify for CRSS. For example, where there is both indoor and outdoor activities, only the indoor activities will qualify. However, minor or ancillary outdoor activities may still qualify, for example, an outdoor seating area connected with a restaurant.
5. Restrictions on Access
Access to the business premises must be “significantly restricted”. In most cases, this will be straightforward. In other cases, a degree of judgement will be required.
Domestic and international travel restrictions are not regarded as “significantly restricted” for the purposes of this test.
Where customers are restricted from accessing “substantial elements of the business premises”, a CRSS claim can be made.
It is important to note that the access restriction only applies to your own business, and not to other businesses which you may deal with. In other words, your own business must meet the eligible criteria in its own right.
A CRSS claim may not be made where a business decides not to reopen.
6. Turnover Test
For businesses established in 2019 or beforehand, it is the 2019 turnover that is compared to the claim period.
Where the business has a 31st December year end, there should be no complications in doing your comparisons. Where however, the business does not have a 31st December year end, there will need to be an apportionment of the turnover from different accounting periods. In circumstances where the apportioned turnover does not reflect accurately the actual turnover in the calendar year 2019, the taxpayer may choose to use the actual figures instead.
Where the qualifying “relevant business activity” is carried on as part of a wider trade, not all of which qualifies for CRSS, a just and reasonable apportionment should be done to establish the turnover from the relevant business activity.
Particular rules are in place where there has been an amalgamation or reconstruction.
For newer businesses, it is the turnover from 26th December 2019 that is compared to the claim period.
7. Making a Claim
A taxpayer must consider each claim period separately, in assessing whether a CRSS claim may be made.
Generally, a claim is made for a full week. Excess days can be carried forward to the next claim period.
There are detailed rules on which each claim period commences and ends. Generally, a claim period lasts for 3 weeks; however, if earlier, a claim period will end when restrictions are amended.
8. Double Weeks
Where businesses cannot reopen during the Christmas and New Year period, a double claim can be made for the weeks beginning 21st December 2020, 28th December 2020 and 4th January 2021, where they meet the eligibility criteria.
This is subject to an overall claim limit of €5,000 per week.
9. Restart Week
An additional week’s claim may be made when the business is either about to recommence trading or has recommenced trading.
Revenue guidance notes confirm that a new restart week can be made each and every time that the business restarts due to Covid restrictions.
Appendix (extracts from Revenue guidance notes)
4.1.4. What is a business premises?
For the purposes of the CRSS, a business premises is the building, or similar fixed physical structure, in which a business activity is ordinarily carried on. Mobile premises, or premises which are not permanently fixed in place, do not meet the definition of business premises.
Examples of what would not meet the definition of a business premises for the purposes of CRSS include the following;
– taxis, vans, trucks or similar vehicles (including boats), on the basis that these are mobile,
– stalls such as market stalls or trade fair stalls on the basis that such stalls are not permanently fixed in place,
– circuses or fun fairs which are not permanently in place,
– outdoor activities even where customers purchase tickets for the activities in a ticket booth (which is in a building), on the basis that the activity being paid for is carried on outdoors, and not in the ticket booth.
The following outdoor activities would not be considered to be ordinarily carried on from a business premises;
– Outdoor theme and amusement parks
– Commercial visitor farms (petting zoos) and zoos generally
– Camping and caravan sites
– Commercial gardens and commercial parks
– Outdoor activity centres, for example paintballing, go karting, ziplining
– Golf courses, pitch and putt courses and driving ranges
– Clay-pigeon shooting / game shooting / falconry
– Outdoor water sport centres including surf schools, diving schools and other similar water-based activities
– Bus tours / bike tours