The Land Rover Discovery 4 jeep has been the subject of a tax appeal over its status as a benefit-in-kind

Aidan Clifford is advisory services manager, ACCA Ireland

Sustainability reporting

Disclosures under the European Sustainable Reporting Standards (ESRS) will shortly become mandatory for EU businesses. The implementation dates are based on company size, with the first companies coming in scope in 2024. ESRS are as complex as IFRS Standards to implement and will require some planning and data capture. They represent a fundamental change to reporting by companies in the EU, and will also apply to non-EU companies with substantial operations in the EU. The draft standards are available here.

In a simultaneous exercise, the International Sustainable Standards Board (ISSB) is developing its own global sustainable reporting standards. While both sets of standards are intended to be interoperable, the ESRS require a lot more disclosure than the proposed ISSB standards. ESRS have a ‘double materiality’ element absent in the ISSB standards. ESRS are compulsory for in-scope Irish companies, with an application date commencing 1 January 2024.


The EU is proposing a directive on explicit environmental claims, with the aim of removing any market distortion caused by different requirements in different EU countries. The new requirements would stop companies from making claims about the environmental merits of their products and services that are not reliable, comparable and verifiable. An ‘explicit environmental claim’ refers to an environmental claim that is ‘in textual form or contained in an environmental label’.

The rules governing the accounting and reporting by solicitors for their client money have been revamped

Solicitor accounts

The Law Society has published the solicitors accounts regulations 2023, which come into effect on 1 July 2023 and apply to accounting periods commencing after that date. This is a substantial revamp and modernisation of the rules governing the accounting and reporting by solicitors for their client money. The regulations will also affect accountants reporting to the Law Society on compliance by their solicitor clients.

The new rules impose additional responsibilities on both the solicitor and the reporting accountant, and are expected to result in additional cost to perform the assurance work. Any solicitor still using manual accounting may find the updated rules particularly difficult to comply with.

Death in service

The Law Society has identified a legal issue with death-in-service benefits for former spouses in defined benefit pension schemes operating through master trusts. The Law Society says ‘no payment will be made to the beneficiary of a contingent benefit pension adjustment order on the death in service of a member of a scheme which has moved to a master trust’. A technical correction to the law is expected.


The Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA) has published a paper on information requests about IFRS 13, Fair Value Measurement, in response to issues with compliance identified during monitoring. The paper discusses the recurring issues identified.

Benefit in kind

A recent tax appeal concerned a company that had treated a Land Rover Discovery 4 jeep as a van for benefit in kind purposes, incurring the then 5% rate of tax for vans rather than the 30% applicable for cars.

Following an audit, Revenue raised an assessment based on the 30% rate, referring to section 121 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, which defines a car as any mechanically propelled road vehicle designed, constructed or adapted for the carriage of the driver or the driver and one or more other persons other than a motor cycle, a van or a vehicle of a type not commonly used as a private vehicle.

Revenue argued the Discovery 4 does not qualify as a van because of its rear doors and windows

A van is defined by section 121A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 as a mechanically propelled road vehicle which (a) is designed or constructed solely or mainly for the carriage of goods or other burden, (b) has a roofed area or areas to the rear of the driver’s seat, and (c) has no side windows or seating fitted in that roofed area or areas.

In this case, Revenue argued that the Discovery 4 does not qualify as a van because of its rear doors and windows. The company argued that, due in part to its very small market share in Ireland, a Discovery 4 fits the section 121 exclusion of vehicle types not commonly used as private vehicles from the definition of car. It also argued that the Discovery 4’s off-road abilities and high load-bearing capacity make it a work vehicle rather than a normal passenger vehicle, and pointed out that it is considered a commercial vehicle for VAT and vehicle registration tax purposes.

The Appeal Commissioners found against the company on the grounds that the vehicle is designed for the carriage of passengers by road, and is of a similar type to other SUVs, while VAT and vehicle registration tax treatments do not automatically carry over to income tax or corporation tax.