How does the Stay and Spend scheme work?

So far, 1,600 businesses in the hospitality sector have registered for the Government Stay and Spend scheme.

From today, taxpayers will be able to claim back 20% of their food and accommodation spend at these registered locations, as a tax credit – with some exceptions.

What is the Stay and Spend scheme? 

The Government Stay and Spend scheme aims to encourage people to stay in Ireland over the autumn, winter and spring months – and to spend money in the hospitality sector.

The scheme will operate from today, 1 October until 30 April 2021.

How much money will I save? 

You can claim back 20% of your bill from a restaurant, pub, hotel, B&B and other qualifying businesses.

The maximum amount an individual can claim back is €125, which would be a total spend of €625 between now and next April.

This amount will be doubled for jointly assessed couples, who can receive a credit up to €250, which would be a total spend of €1,250.

You must spend at least €25 in each transaction to qualify for a tax credit.

Can I spend my money on anything? 

No, alcoholic drinks or drinks ordered without food do not qualify for the credit.

Take-away orders are also not included.

How do I claim the tax credit? 

You must submit your receipts for any qualifying expenditure to Revenue when making a claim.

The easiest way to do this by using the free Revenue Receipts Tracker App which allows you upload images of your receipts to Revenue, so you can manage your receipts on the go.

You will then have to log the name of the business that provided the service and how much you spent.

If you don’t have a smartphone, you can make the claim to revenue either online or by post.

You must make a claim for the Stay and Spend tax credit when completing your annual tax returns.

When will I get the money? 

You can claim the relief for spending incurred between October and December in the 2020 tax year.

Spend after 31 December can be claimed back in the 2021 tax year.

What businesses will qualify for the scheme?

In order to qualify, businesses will need to be registered for VAT and have a current tax clearance certificate.

They must also be registered with the relevant official bodies as appropriate, such as Fáilte Ireland and the HSE Environmental Health Service.

How will I know if a business is participating? 

Revenue is constantly updating the list of registered businesses on its website.

You can filter this list and search by service type, premises type and county.

Currently 1,600 businesses are registered right across the country.

Firms that have registered will also receive marketing and promotional material for their premises to alert customers.

What has the reaction been to the scheme?

While many businesses have welcomed the scheme, there has also been criticism.

The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation said the scheme excludes many businesses in the hospitality sector, such as attraction operators and activity providers.

The ITIC had proposed a voucher scheme for the home holiday market instead and has urged the Government to amend the scheme which it said will prove “complex” and “unwieldy”.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke, has criticised the scheme as a “missed opportunity” to restart the hospitality sector and a flawed scheme which unfairly excludes large sections of society.

He said it is a weak alternative compared to the proposed voucher scheme which Sinn Féin brought forward back in June and will do little to help an industry on the floor.

“Under this flawed and unfair scheme, the richer you are; the more you can spend,” he said.

Is the process too complicated?

Responding to claims that the process is too complicated, Maura Conneely from Revenue Online Services said that is not the case.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Ms Conneely said while the process will be new to some, the incentive is being implemented using the existing Revenue services that many people are already familiar with.

“1.2 million taxpayers already file tax returns online annually. These are both self-employed taxpayers and employees paying PAYE and USC. These people are already familiar with the services and know how to claim their credits,” she said.

Why will the Government not just issue vouchers?

Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, said a voucher scheme would have taken too long to implement when businesses need the support “ready to go in October”.

She said the Stay and Spend scheme encourages additional spend, when a voucher would have encouraged consumers to spend only the value of the voucher.