The reasoning behind this change is in line with DPER circular 13/2014 which requires all expenditure to be vouched. In addition the Revenue Commissioners (Income Tax
Statement of Practice SP - IT/2 /07: Tax treatment of the reimbursement of Expenses of Travel and Subsistence to Office Holders and Employees – Revised July 2015) have stated the following:
Re-imbursement of allowable expenses
Payments made to the employee which are no more than reimbursement of vouched expenses, actually incurred by the employee in performing the duties of the employment, should not be treated as pay. Expenses which are not treated as pay must not only be actually incurred in the performance of the duties of the employment but must also be wholly, exclusively and necessarily so incurred. Expenses which are incurred by employees in travelling to and from the place of employment are not allowable for tax purposes and any re-imbursement of these expenses must be treated as pay and taxed accordingly.
Round sum expenses
Round-sum expenses payments (lump sum expenses payments) whether paid weekly, monthly, yearly or otherwise, which are paid to the employee to cover expenses, must be treated as pay and taxed accordingly. An example of a round sum payment is where an employer agrees to pay, say €300 per month in addition to basic salary in order to cover expenses. This €300 must be treated as pay and taxed accordingly.
The way the telephone allowances were paid out previously were "Round sum expenses" and as such should have been taxable. The reimbursement as laid out above only occurs in a case where there was actual additional outlay incurred, so in the case below where the person pays a flat rate for telephone calls, no reimbursement is due unless additional costs were incurred, i.e. going over inclusive minutes etc.
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