The Chief Executive of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce Paul Clancy, has said that the time is now right to start preparing and planning for the post-pandemic lockdown for the economy in the North West.
The call comes in support of the campaign by the Cross-Border Workers Coalition which has been set up in response to the fact that employees who live in the Republic of Ireland but work in Northern Ireland are largely prohibited from remote working and are subject to a ‘double tax’ on their income should it be determined that they have worked from home or within the Republic of Ireland.
Concern is growing that the prohibitive tax rules will mean that flexibility in working from home for the hundreds of employees who have recently benefited from the liability being waived by the Irish Revenue will have to be scrapped therefore forcing a return to the style of working pre-Covid.
It is feared that if changes aren’t made now for cross-border workers based in the Republic of Ireland to avail of flexibility in their working patterns which have worked well during the lockdown, then business particularly on the northern side could lose talent and skills as employees seek to maintain a work life balance with other companies based in the Republic of Ireland.
Paul Clancy, Chief Executive of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce said: “Now is the right time to start planning for how the local economy will look on the other side of the pandemic.”
“Our political leaders are now advocating for an alternative strategy to lockdowns and hopefully at some point soon the latest restrictions will be lifted and businesses will have the opportunity to get back to creating jobs and wealth for their local communities regardless of what side of the border they are on.”
“We are backing the Cross-Border Workers Coalition’s call for the personal tax liability to be addressed so that greater flexibility can be gained for cross-border workers and employers alike. What we want to see is the Irish Finance Minister take a pragmatic approach and acknowledge that cross border workers need to have these rules changed to create parity and increase cooperation across the border in the face of the pandemic subsiding and Brexit pressures coming down the track.”
He added: “The recent launch of the Shared Ireland Unit by the Taoiseach must be welcomed but we also need to address the immediate problems with the movement of cross-border workers before we start to divert attention to the potential of the projects that have been earmarked. The aspiration of the new unit talks about an all island approach in attracting investment, but if we don’t have the skills and talent to service that investment on a shared basis, we aren’t addressing the fundamental problems we have in front of us.”
Paul Quinn, Co-Chair of the Cross-Border Workers Coalition commented: “Since the start of the pandemic, I have been able to work from home in Donegal without worrying about additional tax liabilities thanks to the necessary decision by the Irish Revenue Commissioners to waive the liability due to the exceptional circumstances. However, as things stand, this waiver could come to an end at any point which would mean I would have no option but to return to the office or face a double tax liability. As the ways of working evolve so too does the approach towards tax by the Irish Government and the Revenue Commissioners.”
“The pandemic has presented many challenges, but it has also paved the way for a recalibration in how people right across the island and beyond are working. Flexibility is key and it is only right that into the future all workers have the flexibility which can allow them to reduce work-related stress and spend more time with their family by working from home when required.”
“Time is running out and we are now imploring the Revenue Commissioners to find a pragmatic solution which works for everyone.”