In June 2022, Irish Revenue published updated guidance on the qualifying conditions to avail of the Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP). The new guidance includes clarifications on some practical issues encountered by employers in determining employees' eligibility for SARP. This is helpful in clarifying scenarios where the conditions for SARP would be deemed to be met, or not as the case may be.
However, a new interpretation by Revenue of a pre-existing requirement, to perform duties in Ireland in each of the 12 consecutive months following the employee’s arrival into Ireland, will be of concern to employers and their relevant employees. It should also require careful planning of periods of leave/vacation and hybrid working arrangements throughout the 12-month period following the employee’s arrival in Ireland, so that this potentially very valuable income tax relief is not inadvertently lost.
The guidance also provides clarity on scenarios in the six months prior to the employee’s arrival in Ireland, where another condition for SARP relief outlined below could be deemed not to be met, that will also require advance consideration.
Firstly, as a brief overview, SARP is an Irish income tax relief aimed at encouraging the relocation and assignment of key talent within organisations to Ireland. Where conditions for SARP are met, it allows for 30% of an individual’s taxable employment income over €75,000 to be disregarded for Irish income tax purposes. This is subject to a current upper income threshold of €1 million.
SARP relief is available for individuals arriving in Ireland from 2012 to 2022. It is expected this year’s Finance Act will further extend the relief beyond 2022. Once an individual qualifies for relief under SARP, they can avail of it for up to 5 consecutive tax years, provided the qualifying conditions continue to be met for each year of claim. For example, an individual arriving in Ireland in 2022 and who qualifies for SARP in that year could potentially claim SARP for tax years 2022 to 2026 incl. where they continue to meet the conditions for SARP in each of those years.
For more information on the qualifying conditions for SARP, see our BDO SARP bulletin available here.
One existing condition to qualify for SARP is that for the whole of six months immediately before the relevant employee arrives in Ireland, they must be a full-time employee of the non-Irish “relevant employer.”
In their recent guidance, Revenue clarify that the above condition for SARP would NOT be met in the following circumstances:
As already referenced above, a significant update in the recent guidance is the suggested denial of the availability of SARP relief where an individual does not perform duties in Ireland in each of the 12 consecutive months following their arrival to Ireland. An example is provided of an employee who arrives in Ireland in January 2022 and spends all of August 2022 on vacation outside of Ireland. In that case, Revenue's stated view is that the individual, who would otherwise have been entitled to claim the relief, is ineligible for SARP.
For our (BDO) pre-arrival Irish tax consultations with employees, who are relocating to Ireland on assignment or to take up an employment with an associated company in Ireland, we strongly recommend those take place at the earliest opportunity and before the employee commences their Irish role or arrives in Ireland to take up those duties. This should allow us, where we are engaged to do so, to identify and clarify to the employer and employee their requirements so that an opportunity to avail of SARP is not lost and to ensure that the relevant parties are aware of their responsibilities in this regard.
It should be noted that where the above criteria for SARP is not met, the impact for the employee is not limited to the loss of the tax relief under SARP for just the first year of claim but will result in losing the tax relief for every year in which the employee may otherwise have met the criteria to qualify for SARP (up to a max of 5 years).
Find more information on the qualifying conditions, how the relief works, the employee and employer reporting requirements and how BDO can help, see our SARP bulletin available here.