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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Jon Ihle

Businesses are in a rush for tax clearance certificates as energy subsidy scheme opens

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar widened eligibility for the scheme

Businesses are rushing to apply for up-to-date tax clearance certificates so they can get State energy subsidies by the end of the year.

Applications to get eTax clearance from Revenue nearly doubled year-on-year in November, with almost 20,000 companies seeking the certification.

The rapid increase follows the establishment by the Government of the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS) in Budget 2023 to help businesses cope with the massive rise in electricity and natural gas prices this winter.

According to Revenue, which is administering the scheme, firms that intend to register for TBESS must hold a current tax clearance certificate or they will not be eligible for its benefits, which can be as much as €10,000 per month.

Registration for TBESS opened last Saturday via Revenue’s online service and claims will be accepted from next Monday. Payments will begin flowing to eligible firms once the Finance Bill is signed into law.

Companies that make qualifying claims for September, October and November in the next three weeks will be paid before the end of the year.

That means firms that do not have their paperwork in order in time could be missing out on €30,000 in State support for this financial year.

According to data provided by Revenue, about 9,000 businesses per month apply for tax clearance certificates – a simple administrative task that can be done online.

But starting in September, when Budget 2023 and TBESS were announced, that number started ticking up, to 11,249, then to 12,785 in October, and finally to 19,311 in November to date.

The highest total in 2021 was 12,861, in January, while November’s figure was 10,485.

A Revenue spokesperson cautioned that the figure does not necessarily represent only new applications, but includes both first-time and renewal applications, for instance where a tax clearance has expired or been rescinded.

The Department of Finance has budgeted €1.25bn for TBESS to help businesses cope with rapidly rising energy costs.

The scheme allows companies to claim back a portion of the increase if their bills between September and February have gone up by 50pc or more.

The programme is the largest single expenditure item in Budget 2023 and required European Commission approval before it could be put into force last week.

The scheme applies to a range of businesses from large data centres to GPs and other professionals.

TBESS originally excluded anyone earning an income from a profession, such as lawyers, accountants and dentists, but an intervention by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar saw the scheme amended.

“My government colleagues and I have been hearing from businesses all around the country about how much they really need this money – and we want to get it to them as soon as possible – ideally before Christmas,” said Mr Varadkar last Friday, announcing the EU clearance.

“So I urge businesses owners and managers – have your bills ready, have your tax clearance certs ready, and make sure that your claim can be processed by Revenue without any undue delay.”

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