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5 potential steps to take if your business is facing challenges presented by COVID-19

Below we have highlighted 5 steps you may be able to take to protect your business during the Covid 19 crisis. 
 
TaxAssist Accountants are here to help our clients through this difficult period so please feel free to contact us with any queries that you may have in respect of the schemes/supports available.
 

1. Apply for social welfare payments

Employees and the self-employed that have lost employment due to a downturn in economic activity caused by the COVID-19 can apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. If you have been forced to shut your business this payment will help to tide both you and your staff over in the short term. 
 
To receive the payment, you fill in a simple one-page application form and you will be paid for a period of 6 weeks at a flat rate payment of €203 per week. You can find the forms to apply here
 
 

2. Decide if you can continue to pay staff

Where employers, who must cease trading because of the impact of social distancing, continue to pay workers they will be able to claim a refund of €203 per worker per week from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. 
 
This means that workers retain their link with employers and there is no need for them personally to submit a jobseeker’s claim.
 
However, we are still unclear as to how long refunds will take to process so you will need to consider the impact of this on your short term cash flow.
 

3. Talk to your bank

All of the major banks have indicated that they will work with their customers during this period to ensure that they have access to funding where possible. If you have a bank loan, a payment holiday may be available so get in touch with your bank. As well as this, banks may offer temporary overdraft increases and short-term working capital loans.
 

4. Organise your tax liabilities

Revenue have taken actions to assist SMEs experiencing cashflow difficulties:
  • The application of interest on late payments is suspended for January/February VAT and both February and March PAYE (Employers) liabilities. You will be able to pay these bills at a later date without incurring interest. 
  • You can also apply for a phased payment arrangement with Revenue in terms of any tax liabilities you feel you will not be able to pay as they fall due. You can apply for this phased payment arrangement through ROS.
  • Revenue advises that businesses continue to file returns as normal.
 

5. Apply for a loan

There are several schemes available to SMEs to access capital to help them through this period. Here are some you may be eligible for:
 
  • SBCI COVID19 Working Capital Scheme - A €200m Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) Working Capital scheme for eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19 has been announced. Loans of up to €1.5m will be available at reduced rates, with up to the first €500,000 unsecured. If you wish to be kept informed on developments please email the SBCI at [email protected]
  • Credit Guarantee Scheme - This scheme aims to assist viable SMEs, which under normal lending criteria are unable to borrow from their bank, in accessing credit. The scheme operates by providing an 80% guarantee to participating finance providers (currently AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank) on qualifying loans to SMEs. More details can be found here
  • Brexit Loan Scheme - This scheme also provides an 80% Government Guarantee on loans up to €1.5m for a 3 year term with a fixed interest rate of 4% for Brexit impacted (15% of your business either directly or indirectly exposed to the UK or NI) businesses. If you are Brexit impacted and may not have already availed of the scheme then this could be an option for you. Full details and an eligibility application form are available on the SBCI website 
  • Microfinance Ireland - An increase in the maximum loan available from MicroFinance Ireland (MFI) from €25,000 to €50,000, as an immediate measure to specifically deal with the exceptional circumstances that micro-enterprises are facing (i.e. sole traders and firms with up to 9 employees). Applications can be made through their website
  • Enterprise Ireland - A €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a Rescue and Restructuring Scheme will be available through Enterprise Ireland for viable but vulnerable firms that need to restructure or transform their businesses. Please contact your development advisor for further information

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