Limerick senator seeks extension of gift voucher scheme for workers

THE Government can help employers reward their workers and boost local business by extending a measure that allows gift vouchers to be given twice a year tax free.

That’s according to Limerick Senator Maria Byrne who has called for a change in the Small Benefit Exemption which enables companies give a gift voucher up to the value of €500, on which employees will not be required to pay tax.

“Normally this only applies to one qualifying incentive per year. However this was relaxed in 2020 by Revenue, allowing companies to avail of the Small Benefit Exemption on two occasions a year, up to the same maximum total per annum of €500,” Senator Byrne explained.

“This change to the Small Benefit Exemption was introduced to enable employers recognise the efforts of their staff in light of the  impact of the Covid pandemic in 2020 and 2021, and I am calling on Revenue to extend it.

“Many companies and organisations are only now in a position to give gifts after a difficult two years. And many are looking to thank their workers for their additional commitment during the pandemic. It would be great if they could do so with a tax-free gift voucher now, without impeding their ability to give a similar voucher again at the end of the year as part of their usual approach to Christmas gifts or bonuses.

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“This could also provide a real boost to Irish businesses. We know the pandemic has been especially hard for hospitality and retail who had to endure a number of closures and restrictions. Encouraging the giving of gift vouchers could really help to boost these sectors.

“With a voucher people may be more likely to treat themselves or their families to a meal out, a night or two away, or to spend on something they might not otherwise be able to buy.

“So many employers want to recognise and thank their staff – let’s equip them to do it by extending this relaxation of rules for the Small Benefit Exemption to the end of 2022,” Senator Byrne concluded.