Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is encouraging companies to avail of the range of support schemes in place to reduce the impact of new Covid-19 restrictions on their business. 

Mr Donohoe said the Government will continue to assess the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy.

"I will continue to work with Ministerial colleagues to ensure that appropriate supports are in place to mitigate these effects," he added. 

He also said that Revenue continues to play a significant role in the delivery of critical Government supports to affected businesses that help to protect lives and livelihoods.

Paschal Donohoe said the most significant support available is through wage subsidies. Over €4.5 billion worth of such payments having been made to employers since the pandemic began through the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and its predecessor the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS). 

The EWSS was revised in October to better support businesses impacted with Level 5 restrictions imposed at that time. 

As announced earlier this week, the Government will continue to pay the enhanced rate of subsidy until the end of March to cover the current period of public health restrictions. 

To qualify for the EWSS, as well as having tax clearance, employers must show that their business will experience a 30% reduction in turnover or customer orders as a result of Covid-19. 

The Finance Minister is also encouraging eligible businesses to sign up for the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS). 

The CRSS is a targeted support for businesses directly impacted by Covid-19 restrictions which forced them to temporarily close or significantly restrict access to their premises. 

Qualifying businesses can apply to the Revenue Commissioners for a cash payment in respect of an advance credit for trading expenses for the period of the restrictions. 

The payment is subject to a maximum of €5,000 for each week a business is affected by the restrictions. Where a business has more than one premises, they can claim for each trading premises separately.

A total of €173m has already been paid in respect of 17,600 business premises under this scheme so far, Paschal Donohoe said.

Meanwhile, the Debt Warehousing Scheme also allows VAT and PAYE debts incurred by businesses during the weeks of restricted trading to be "parked" on an interest free basis for 12 months after the resumption of trading.  

At the end of the 12-month interest free period, the warehoused debt may be paid in full without incurring an interest charge or paid through a phased payment arrangement at a significantly reduced interest rate of 3% a year. 

This compares to the standard rate of 10% per annum that would otherwise apply to such debts.  

The scheme was expanded in the Finance Act to provide similar arrangements for self-assessed income tax debt and Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme overpayments.

A total of 70,000 businesses availed of the warehousing scheme last year in respect of €1.9 billion of tax debt.