The Minister for Finance Michael Noonan is set to fast track an increase in the threshold for the Small Benefit Exemption Scheme. The current threshold is €250; this will double and will increase to €500. The last time the threshold was increased was in 2005 when it was increased from €100 to €250. The move is contained in the Finance Bill, published last week. The new rules were expected to be implemented from 1st January 2016 however, The Department of Finance say the change will be implemented in time for Christmas.
Under the Revenue Commissioner’s Approved Small Benefit Exemption Scheme employers can provide employees with a small benefit, this small benefit is not subject to PAYE, USC or PRSI.
The following rules apply:
• The benefit cannot be cash, cash payments are fully taxable
• Only one such benefit can be given to an employee in one tax year
• Where a benefit exceeds the threshold the full value of the benefit is subject to PAYE, USC & PRSI
• The benefit can not form part of a "salary sacrifice" scheme
The small benefit is traditionally given as a voucher often at Christmas, as mentioned above only one such benefit can be given to an employee in one tax year. Where more than one benefit is given in a tax year only the first benefit will qualify under the Small Benefit Exemption Scheme.
Full details of Finance Bill 2015 can be found on Revenue’s website