The food subsidy in the civil service will increase in 2023, which will advance the value of the subsidy exempt from IRS when it is paid by card or voucher.
The value of food allowance in 2022 for the public sector it stood at 4.77 euros per day. However, and according to the State Budget for 2023 (OE2023), this amount will rise to 5.20 euros already in January.
Up to this amount, the subsidy paid in cash is excluded from taxation, and the exemption of what is paid in meal card or voucher is limited to 8.32 euros per day (up to 60% of the amount set in the OE 2023).
O The private sector generally uses this value as a reference, but there is freedom to set the value as it sees fit. or even not pay, because, it should be noted, this subsidy is not mandatory by law.
Food allowance: what you should know
This subsidy is a monetary contribution with the purpose of compensating the worker for the expense of a daily meal, which corresponds, in most cases, to lunch. This is because lunch is the meal that normally divides the workers’ daily schedule.
The food subsidy is considered a social benefit granted by the company, and is applied in both the public and private sectors. Although many people may not know it, this allowance is not a universal right. In the private sector, access to it is only possible if covered by an employment contract, which may be an individual contract or a collective bargaining agreement.
In other words, as we have already said, it is not mandatory by law – it is not even included in the Labor Code -, being considered a social benefit and, thus, the minimum amount of meal allowance for the public sector is defined in the State Budget.
Is the allowance paid on vacation or on days when the worker is absent from work?
The amount of the subsidy is for each working day. This means that this amount will not be paid on days when the worker is not at work.
This applies, for example, in the case of vacation days or when you are absent from work.
Part-time work: how is the subsidy paid?
When the worker is working on the part timethe value is equal to that of the remaining workers at full timeif they work for 5 hours a day.
If the contract contains fewer hours of daily work, the amount of the subsidy will always be proportional to the volume of working hours.
If this subsidy is already paid by the company, the worker is still entitled to receive it, even if he is teleworking. This right is provided for in Law No. 83/2021 of December 6 amending the teleworking regime, which came into force on January 1, 2022.
Tax advantages of paying the subsidy with a meal card
The food allowance is not always paid in cash. In the private sector, the food subsidy is paid using a meal card or voucher.
This is a method adopted by most private companies, as the limit of the non-taxable amount received by the worker is higher than the amount paid in cash. Thus, companies can increase benefits to workers without increasing the tax burden for both.
In this situation, as mentioned, the maximum tax-exempt amount will be, in 2023, 8.32 euros daily??
The meal card works like a prepaid debit card, that is, it is loaded by the employer, every month, with the defined amount. If you don’t spend all the money for one month, the surplus rolls over to the next month.
To have this card, you do not need to have an account with the card issuing bank or pay annuity or maintenance costs.
You can negotiate the right to food allowance, but don’t take it for granted
Finally, whenever you sign a new employment contract, check if there is any reference to the food allowance, as many people think that this right is unquestionable, and in fact it is not.
Make sure that in 2023 you will be able to benefit from this subsidy. If not, you can and should ask your employer in order to negotiate this right for you.