Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath has welcomed a commitment given to him in the Dáil this morning by Finance Minister Michael Noonan that there will be no change to the deadline for pay & file returns during the lifetime of this government.

Last year, Minister Noonan stated his intention to bring forward the pay & file deadline (from the current deadline of 31 October and mid-November for online returns) in line with changes to the national budget but he postponed its implementation in 2014 following a public consultation exercise. Deputy McGrath sought clarity from the Minister this morning as to his intentions on this issue.

Deputy McGrath stated, “I stated when this change was proposed last year that a change to the pay & file date would impact negatively on over 600,000 small businesses and sole traders. Many of these are already struggling to maintain adequate working capital to sustain their business. Changing the pay date for tax due would have a significant adverse impact on businesses and could limit their ability to grow and expand.  It would elevate the convenience of Revenue and Department of Finance above the practical implications for small business.

“There would also have been a number of logistical difficulties for professional advisors associated with an earlier filing date. With existing exam schedules, annual holidays and flexible working arrangements, it is difficult to see how the compliance process could be completed on time with an earlier deadline. Often small business owners feel they are not given the same consideration as multinationals even though collectively they employ more people. A change to the pay & file arrangements would have only served to reinforce this view.

“I therefore welcome confirmation from the Minister for Finance, in response to a Priority Question I raised in the Dáil this morning, that the current arrangements will continue for the remainder of the lifetime of this government. I acknowledge his comment that the decision for subsequent years would lie with the next government. Today’s news is a welcome recognition that the Department of Finance has considerably improved its forecasting model for the public finances and therefore there is no practical justification for a change to the well-established pay & file arrangements which are currently in place. Small business owners and their tax advisors can now breathe a sigh of relief that these proposals are firmly off the table.”