Clarity sought as to how new Irish Government Covid rules will impact border workers facing home-working ‘double tax’

A coalition of border employees are seeking clarity as to how the Irish Government will support cross-border workers who face losing home-working support overnight due to the swift relaxation of Covid-19 rules in the Republic of Ireland. The group have warned that thousands of workers could be taxed twice on their income by working remotely under new public health regulations.

The Cross Border Workers Coalition is an alliance of individual employees who live in the Republic of Ireland but work in Northern Ireland. Under current legislation, cross-border workers, who live in the Republic of Ireland but work in Northern Ireland, can face a ‘double tax’, both from HMRC and Irish Revenue, if they work-from-home.

The Irish Government has temporarily waived this requirement in March 2020, but with support only being offered when home-working guidance is in place, the Coalition fears that employees are now set to effectively lose all remote working flexibility. This could force employers to restrict their hiring to one side of the border, with the rigidness of tax rules curtailing wealth creation and jobs and additional commutes contributing significant, unnecessary carbon emissions.

The Coalition has warned that cross-border workers face the possibility of a ‘double tax’ on their income or losing the ability to work-from-home at all. Coalition Co-Chair Paul Quinn has urged Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe TD to act now and introduce permanent, pragmatic reform to outdated tax legislation and grant cross-border workers much-needed home-working flexibility.

Cross Border Workers Coalition Co-Chair, Paul Quinn, said:

 “While it is welcome to see Covid restrictions ease and offices return in the Republic of Ireland, thousands of cross-border workers are now facing the prospect of a ‘double tax’ any time they wish to work remotely. The return of 25-year-old tax rules will mean that employees like myself can be financially penalised by just taking a phone call or replying to an email from home, posing significant difficulties to work-life balance. While the Irish Government have offered welcome flexibility throughout the pandemic, this support is now set to be lost overnight, with employers significantly concerned about what this might mean for their workforce.”

“A year on from the Government’s National Remote Work Strategy, we are no further in seeing any long-term, strategic approach to home-working rules for cross-border workers. We have met with Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe TD several times in the last 12 months, and despite assurances that this issue was being considered, no meaningful steps have yet been taken. This simply does not work for the border communities, businesses and workers we represent, and open, honest conversations are needed as to how we solve this issue.”

“While pandemic restrictions have eased, remote work is here to stay. As offices return, now is the time for cross-border workers to be granted the same modern working practises as their colleagues. Now is the time for the Finance Minister to step up and support border workers. Now is the time for action, and there is no time to lose.”