Women whose employers are family relatives, or a company in which she or her relatives are shareholders, will be eligible for a Lm700 (€1,630) tax credit after having being previously barred from the return-to-work incentives.
The legal notice revoking the clause that restricted tax credits to women in family employment, was published two weeks ago.
In 2005, women returning to work after an absence of five years were awarded Lm700 in tax credits; but the budget measure, devised to increase female participation in the labour market, was not awarded to employers’ wives, or women working in companies in which they or their relatives were shareholders.
But back then, the government claimed the rules had been structured in a way as to curb any abuse on taxation.
The new legal notice does away with this restriction, which means women are now eligible for tax credits even if their employers are their parents, spouses or parents-in-law, children or their spouses, siblings and their spouses, or where the employer is a company in which the woman or any of the ‘barred’ employers are directly or indirectly a shareholder.
Both social policy and employment ministers Dolores Cristina and Louis Galea had claimed back in 2005 that without restricting the tax credit, “an employer could easily give a salary to his spouse or son or daughter or other relative without the latter actually doing the work and then benefiting from the tax credit. This would have defeated the whole purpose of this measure and would have given a ‘tax holiday’ to the employer on part of his income.”
The National Council of Women had issued a strong statement against the limitation of tax credits for women in family businesses, saying it was a well-known fact that in Malta, a substantial percentage of businesses and employers are small family owned businesses.
The NCW said the limitation discriminated against women who genuinely re-enter the labour market joining their husband or another related employer.
The government’s action plan on poverty sets as its target the increase in the female employment rate to 45% by 2010. The gender difference is even greater for single parents: only eight per cent of single mothers hold full-time employment in contrast to 36 per cent of single fathers.