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Irish Revenue has issued eBrief No.121/20 which formally updates their guidance notes with respect to the PAYE obligations applying to a Short Term Business Visitor (“STBV”) who performs duties in Ireland in a tax year.

The changes, which will apply from 1 January 2020, confirm the announcement in late December 2019 with respect to a change in practice in determining the level of duties that can be performed here before a PAYE obligation arises. 

Position up to 31 December 2019

Prior guidance, covering primarily the 2018 to 2019 tax years, required an employer to make an assessment on the appropriate PAYE position for an STBV on a case by case basis. Employers needed to consider several factors which could include:

  • Whether the overseas employee was travelling from a country with which Ireland had double tax agreement (“DTA”)
  • Whether a personal entitlement to an exemption from Irish tax on employment income was available under the terms of a DTA
  • The expected number of years that employee would likely perform duties in Ireland
  • The expected Irish workdays that would be performed over one or two tax years
  • The degree to which the activity being performed by the employee was considered “integral” to the Irish business.

When considering the level of duties that could be performed in Ireland before either PAYE applied or an application for a clearance to not operate PAYE was obtained, no more than 60 workdays (DTA cases) and 30 workdays (non DTA cases) could be spent here over two consecutive tax years. 

The guidance created significant administration challenges for businesses in terms of the level of information needed to enable assessment as well as the subsequent steps to ensure PAYE compliance per STBV. Further, as the guidance relates solely to employer PAYE obligations, cashflow issues could arise where PAYE was operated and was ultimately found to be repayable on foot of a tax return claim by the STBV. 

Position from 1 January 2020

The 2020 guidance provides more detail on the substantially simplified process which should apply when considering whether an Irish PAYE obligation may arise. 

The key updates are as follows:

  • Removal of the Integral Test
    The nature of the duties and role being performed by the STBV in Ireland no longer needs to be assessed by an employer.  Going forward, Irish Revenue will focus on the legal employment relationship in place between the overseas employer and STBV. 
  • Management Charges
    Guidance confirms that a management recharge which includes a mark-up does not constitute the bearing of remuneration for the purposes of exemption on employment income under the terms of a DTA.
  • Removal of consecutive/multiple year tracking 
    From 1 January 2020, each tax year should be considered on a standalone basis when considering the number of workdays an employee has spent in the State – it is no longer necessary to consider presence over consecutive/multiple tax years.This change applies to both STBVs from DTA and non DTA locations. 

Summary Table - Applicable from 1 January 2020


From DTA Country

From Non-DTA Country

< 30 workdays in the tax year

No PAYE obligation

No PAYE obligation


> 30 but < 60 workdays in the tax year

No PAYE obligation*

PAYE obligation


> 60 workdays but < 183 days of any type in the relevant period**

PAYE obligation***


PAYE obligation

> 183 days presence of any type in the tax year

PAYE obligation

PAYE obligation


*No PAYE obligation provided the conditions of Article 15(2) are met 

**The relevant period will depend upon the DTA applicable

***Unless PAYE Clearance obtained from Irish Revenue

  • PAYE Clearance
    An application for PAYE Clearance, which may cover multiple STBV cases, must include a confirmation that the exemption provisions outlined in the Employments Article of the relevant DTA apply. A new application is required for each tax year.

    Revenue confirm that where an application is not made within 30 days of arrival, PAYE (and if relevant PRSI) must be operated on the earnings paid since the date of arrival but will not penalise an employer for failure to give the required notice where it was not expected or readily apparent that the STBV would exceed 60 workdays in the tax year.


The changes confirmed provide employers with significant clarity on the level of workdays that an STBV can spend in Ireland without a PAYE obligation arising. It also removes ambiguities on the likely entitlement to a PAYE Clearance for those foreign employees who spend more than incidental workdays in Ireland per tax year.  As the PAYE and personal income tax position of the STBV should now be aligned, the impact caused on cashflows and tax return filing obligations should also be alleviated.

While employers must still ensure processes are in place to track travel patterns for STBVs, these practical changes mean that the administration involved in business travel to Ireland is substantially reduced enabling business to focus on other matters.  The importance and timeliness of this confirmation from Irish Revenue cannot be overstated as businesses adapt to changing economic circumstances.

Further information

For further information on the Revenue update above, please contact Thalia O'Toole, Head of Global Mobility, via this form, or check out our related content below.

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