Aidan Clifford is advisory services manager, ACCA Ireland


The Charities Regulator has published its annual report for 2022, highlighting the successes and also the failings in the sector. Only 73% of all registered charities claim to be fully compliant with the governance code, while just 59% filed their 2022 annual report with the regulator on time (a further 14% filed late). The regulator received an average of 12 concerns a week in 2022.

Just over 900 charities (16.5%) have an annual income in excess of €1m and just over 1,000 (18.7%) have an income under €10,000; 29% have an income of between €10,000 and €100,000.

Enhanced reporting

From 1 January 2024 businesses will need to report in real time any payments they make to reimburse certain employees for travel expenses and other tax-free payments. The administrative burden is expected to be considerable as travel and subsistence systems are usually not integrated into payroll systems. Revenue is running information sessions on the new enhanced reporting requirements (ERR).

ACCA has proposed, through the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies – Ireland (CCABI), an alternative of monthly reporting in arrears at the same time that PAYE is returned, rather than the ‘on or before’ reporting required by Revenue, but this has been rejected. Representations are ongoing.

Credit union life insurance

All credit unions provide free life assurance for loans and most also provide a free death benefit of up to €4,000 for members with savings at the time of their death. The free life cover is dependent on a number of factors including the member’s age and savings history and the particular group insurance policy option chosen by the credit union.

In an unusual case, the Workplace Relations Commission has found that this insurance benefit was discriminatory on the basis of age and awarded the complainant €1,000 in compensation.

Credit unions should consider AHB investments to be high risk

The credit union contended that the scheme was not unlawful ‘as it falls within an exemption provided under Section 21 (11) of the Equal Status Act, where the difference in the treatment of persons is not deemed to be discriminatory if it is effected by reference to actuarial or statistical data obtained from a source on which it is reasonable to rely, or other relevant underwriting or commercial factors, and is reasonable having regard to the data or other relevant factors’.

However, the adjudicator found the lack of full details of the actuarial or statistical data that had guided the credit union’s policy was a contributory factor in this case. Credit unions would be advised to put the matter on their risk register and closely monitor developments.

AHB investments

Approved housing bodies (AHBs) purchase or build residential units that they then lease to local or central government for social housing purposes. The lease payments give a lender’s return to the provider of the initial capital, which can include credit unions investing surplus funds.

However, AHB investments are non-simple, and while it is true that they come with a capital guarantee, that guarantee is supplied by an AHB and they are not immune to failure.

Although the leasing income to cover the capital and expected return comes from government, some AHBs have clauses in their lease contract that stop them receiving payments if there are long-term voids, for example. There is also the issue of uninsured damage by social housing tenants or mismanagement by a voluntary AHB board.

From 2024 GMS income must be allocated to the GP who holds the contract

The FRS 102 accounting standard requires AHB investments to be valued at fair value, and while the risk of default is an important determinant of fair value, so too is the time value of money. Small changes in interest rates on investments that have a 20-year horizon can have huge effects on the current capital value.

Credit unions should consider AHB investments to be high risk and limit their exposure accordingly. In calculating the fair value of their AHB investments, they may also need external assistance, which must not be supplied by investment houses selling these investments.

Annual returns

The 2022 annual report of the Companies Registration Office (CRO) has been published. It notes that 879 applications to have a late annual return treated as on time (thereby avoiding late filing fees and the loss of audit exemption) were made in 2022. Only one application was refused, five were withdrawn and four were adjourned to 2023; all the rest were granted.

Enforcement against late filing of annual returns has recommenced.

In 19 instances, auditors notified the CRO that their auditor registration number (ARN) had been used to file auditors’ reports without permission.

The CRO received 240,223 annual returns in 2022. There was no enforcement of strike-off provisions for late filing during the year due to the Covid pandemic, although enforcement against late filing has recommenced in 2023. Four H4 forms were filed by auditors for failure by a company to maintain adequate accounting records.

Doctors’ income

In the past, general medical services (GMS) income earned by a GP in a practice has been treated as the income of the practice and allocated, together with the attaching professional services withholding tax, to the practice principal or between the practice partners based on their agreed profit-sharing ratio.

Following a 2022 determination by the Tax Appeals Commission, which found that a GMS contract is entered into between the Health Service Executive and the treating GP, Revenue has stated that from 1 January 2024 GMS income has to be allocated to the GP who holds the contract.

ACCA, through CCABI, is engaging with Revenue on the matter, on the grounds that this will bring administrative difficulties and cost without generating any additional tax revenue.