Exit Strategy

Passing on your business and developing your exit strategy is one of the most important business decisions you will ever have to make.

Many of the tax reliefs one may wish to claim on a transfer of assets can be subject to very stringent conditions, such as minimum periods of ownership or active involvement in the business. Succession planning can often seem like something which should be considered close to retirement. However, the risk of waiting is that many of the key tax reliefs available to business owners are not accessible when the time comes to pass on assets, as the relevant conditions cannot be met.

What can help avoid this problem is advance planning. Through preparation, a business owner can identify some of the key conditions required to avail of certain tax reliefs, allowing them sufficient time to take the necessary steps to qualify for these reliefs. Therefore, it is not unusual to see a succession plan being put in place 5 to 10 years prior to its implementation.

The transfer of a business can trigger several taxes such as:

  • Capital Gains Tax (CGT) which is a tax payable by the person selling or transferring an asset. The current rate of CGT is 33%.
  • Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) which is a tax payable by the person in receipt of a gift or inheritance. The current rate of CAT is 33%.

This article will focus on the key tax reliefs available to business owners and their family members on the transfer of their business.

CGT Reliefs

In order to mitigate or eliminate the CGT liability on the transfer, there are two main reliefs which may be availed of provided certain conditions are met. These are:

  • Retirement Relief
  • Entrepreneur Relief

Retirement relief provides for relief from CGT on the disposal of qualifying assets.

To qualify for this relief, the main conditions are that the individual must be aged 55 or over and must be disposing of or transferring qualifying business assets. In addition, the individual must have been a working director of the company for 10 years and a fulltime working director for at least 5 of the years prior to the transfer. The latter condition can be a stumbling block for many individuals seeking to claim this relief. For example, an individual may be a director of more than one company and therefore may not meet the full-time working director requirement. This is why it is so important to prepare a succession plan early in your lifetime.

If retirement relief is not available, the individual may qualify for Revised Entrepreneur Relief which limits the rate of CGT to 10% on the first €1m of gains on the disposal of certain business assets. In contrast to retirement relief, this relief has no age requirement and the individual can qualify for it at any stage provided the relevant criteria is met.  To qualify for the relief, the individual should have owned the shares in the business for a continuous period of 3 of the last 5 years and spent 50% or more of their working time as an employee or director of the company.

CAT Reliefs

An individual can receive gifts/inheritances up to a certain amount tax-free throughout their lifetime. Currently, a child can receive a gift or an inheritance up to €335K from his/her parents.

In the context of a business, a child may, on receipt of a relevant business property, qualify for what’s known as Business Relief. This reduces the value of the gift or inheritance being received to 10% of the market value of the business property, resulting in a significant tax saving. Similar to the reliefs already discussed, there are certain conditions that need to be met around ownership and the level of involvement in the business.

Farmers may qualify for Agricultural Relief on the receipt of a gift or inheritance of agricultural property. Agricultural property includes agricultural land, crops and trees growing thereon and farm buildings appropriate to the property. By qualifying for this relief, the market value of the property being received will be reduced by 90%. This makes it a very valuable relief.

There are two tests that need to be passed before a person can avail of the relief:

  1. The farmer test requires 80% of the beneficiary’s assets to be agricultural property immediately after receipt of the inheritance.
  2. The trading test requires the individual to farm the land themselves for at least 6 years or alternatively lease the land out to a qualifying farmer for 6 years.

If a CAT liability arises with or without claiming any of the CAT reliefs, it may be possible to reduce or eliminate the liability by claiming a credit for the CGT paid by the parent on the transfer of property.

Although there are many commercial considerations to be made when passing on wealth as well as discussions with family members as to suitable successors, tax plays a key role in informing the business owner as to the extent of any tax liability. Knowing this information prior to implementing a succession plan enables the owner to make more informed decisions and allows for maximising the amount of reliefs that may be claimed. This will reduce the overall tax costs of the transfer.

For more information on tax reliefs related to your exit strategy, please contact us.

DFK International has been ranked as the 6th largest association in the world in the International Accounting Bulletin’s (IAB’s) annual 2022 World Survey Report.

Crowleys DFK has been a proud member of DFK International for twenty-nine years.

The report is based on collective fee income, with DFK International members firms achieving a turnover of $1.532 billion.

DFK has sat in seventh place for 10 years but has moved up the list after achieving a growth rate of 3% compared to the previous year.

The association now has 230 member firms, 1,413 partners, 13,919 staff members and 455 offices in 94 countries.

Martin Sharp, executive director of DFK International, said:

“We are very proud to be among the leading associations worldwide.

Moving up to sixth place demonstrates that despite the pandemic, DFK remains one of the strongest associations in the world and our member firms have continued to grow, which is a fantastic achievement.

We have seen growth across all services lines, particularly in North America, which shows that our members have continued to provide outstanding support to their clients in a challenging environment and in-turn have expanded their practices.

We now look forward to another successful year as we continue to do business and share knowledge and best practice to achieve further growth.”

Being a part of an association with a strong global presence has greatly widened Crowleys DFK’s intellectual resources, allowing us to offer local advice supported by a broader knowledge of international financial reporting.

This breadth of knowledge is a critical resource for our clients, which include leading firms in industries such as information and communications technology, e-commerce, life sciences, manufacturing and consumer products.

These clients find that our expert team provides fundamental advice on structuring their Irish operations, on securing Government funding, and dealing with tax and legal obligations.

As Ireland continues to be a vital hub for international business, our understanding of the challenges faced by companies moving into Ireland will continue to be a critical resource.

Eddie Murphy, Head of Tax and FDI Services at Crowleys DFK, said:

“At Crowleys DFK, we understand the challenges faced by our SME and owner-managed business clients. We are proud of the reputation and long-term relationships we have built with them over the years.

Whether it’s getting advice on taking on two employees in Germany, accessing capital markets in London or New York or helping technology companies expand into San Francisco, we connect our clients with trusted professionals throughout the world.

In many cases our clients prefer to deal with us and in these instances, we instruct the other DFK firms. This means clients can concentrate on their business and don’t need to spend time developing new relationships abroad.”

To learn more about DFK International visit www.dfk.com.

An area that has continued to cause challenges and risks for businesses is the operation of Relevant Contracts Tax (RCT) and VAT.

The most common mistakes we see being made in this sector are by non-resident principal contractors who engage a subcontractor to carry out construction works in Ireland.

This article will focus on the most common pitfalls that we see occurring within this sector by non-resident principal contractors and the steps that can be taken to avoid making costly mistakes.

1. Compliance Obligations for Non-Resident Principal Contractors

When a non-resident principal contractor engages a subcontractor to carry out construction works in Ireland, the RCT system must be applied to payments made to the subcontractor.

The first potential pitfall for a non-resident principal contractor is not taking the reasonable care to familiarise themselves with their tax obligations under the RCT regime. In such a case, the non-resident principal contractor will eventually be contacted by Revenue, informing them of their failure to operate the RCT regime. This usually occurs following the commencement of the works in Ireland, at which point the mistakes have already been made and costly penalties can be imposed by Revenue.

As such, it is very important that a non-resident principal contractor is aware of their tax obligations prior to the commencement of any construction works in Ireland so that the necessary administrative steps can be taken to ensure that they are set up for the RCT system and fully compliant in operating RCT on payments to subcontractors.

The administrative steps to be taken by a non-resident principal contractor include registering for RCT on Revenue’s Online Service (ROS) and operating the RCT regime throughout the duration of the project in Ireland (further detail on this below).

2. Operation of the RCT System

Once a principal contractor is registered for RCT with Revenue, there are a number of steps that must be taken each time a principal contractor enters into a relevant contract with a subcontractor and each time a payment is made to the subcontractor. These steps are summarised as follows:

a. Contract Notification

  • The first step is to input a “Contract Notification” through Revenue’s online RCT system. A principal contractor must notify Revenue each time it enters into a new relevant contract with a subcontractor. The Principal will then receive a contract reference number and an indication of the applicable RCT deduction rate for the subcontractor.

b. Payment Notification

  • Before making a payment to a subcontractor, the principal must notify Revenue’s online eRCT system of the intention to make the payment and provide details to Revenue of the gross amount to be paid. This process is known as “Payment Notification”. This must be done for each payment made to the subcontractor.

c. Deduction Authorisation

  • Revenue will issue a deduction authorisation to the principle contractor which will specify the rate and amount of tax to be deducted from the payment to the subcontractor. This process is known as “Deduction Authorisation”. The principle is required to provide a copy of this authorisation to the subcontractor.

d. Deduction Summary (RCT Return)

  • Revenue’s eRCT system prepares a pre-populated period end return known as a “Deduction Summary (i.e. RCT Return)”, which is based on the deduction authorisations issued during the period. The due date for payment of the RCT withheld is the 23rd day after the end of the period covered by the return.

The most common pitfall we see occurring in practice are inconsistencies in notifying Revenue of each and every payment made to a subcontractor by the principal contractor. This can be a costly mistake for the principal contractor as the penalties Revenue can impose for failure to operate the RCT system in this way range between 3% to 35%, depending on the RCT deduction rate applicable to the subcontractor.

To put this into perspective, if a subcontractor has been assigned a 35% RCT deduction rate and the principal contractor makes a payment of €25,000 to the subcontractor without first notifying Revenue of the payment and deducting the appropiate withholding tax, Revenue can impose a penalty of €8,750 (i.e. 35% of the invoice value) on the principal contractor for its failure to operate the RCT system.

These penalties can become very costly for a business where they fail to operate the RCT system on high value invoices.

3. Operation of RCT and Reverse Charge VAT

Typically, VAT is normally charged by the person supplying the goods or services. However, under the RCT regime, the person receiving the goods or services (the principal contractor) calculates the VAT due on the invoice from the subcontractor and pays it directly to Revenue. This is referred to as Reverse Charge VAT and it is common area in which mistakes are made by non-resident principal contractors.

The following should occur when a subcontractor invoices a principal contractor for construction services that are subject to RCT:

  1. The subcontractor raises an VAT invoice with the zero rate of VAT applied;
  2. The invoice should include the VAT registration number of the principal contractor and include the narrative “VAT on this supply to be accounted for by the principal contractor”;
  3. The principal contractor calculates the VAT due on the invoice value and records it as VAT on sales (Box T1) on its VAT return. Where it is entitled to do so, the principal contractor can claim a simultaneous VAT input credit (Box T2) on the VAT return, thus resulting in a VAT neutral position.

Although the RCT system can seem like a heavy administrative burden on a business, it can be managed relatively smoothly with the proper administration. Our tax specialists look after all administrative issues regarding RCT, provide effective advice and answer questions you may have regarding RCT.

Should you require any assistance, please contact us.

DFK's 60th Anniversary

Crowleys DFK is celebrating global independent accountancy association DFK’s 60th anniversary. We are proud to have been members for the past 29 years.

Reflecting on the 60th milestone, Martin Sharp, executive director of DFK International, said:

“In 1962 the founders of DFK International envisaged setting up an association of independent firms that could support their clients to do business internationally and provide an alternative to the big networks which were being set-up.

Although DFK has grown considerably and the international business landscape has changed, the principles and ethos on which DFK was established still remain.

Beyond this, DFK provides a forum to share knowledge and best practice between like-minded individuals who are keen to support their clients and help fellow member firms.

We have a strong family atmosphere which has grown over the years to give member firms the opportunity to build relationships with people from different countries and different cultures.

This year we celebrate this success and look forward to continuing to build these relationships in the years to come.”

James O’Connor, Managing Partner at Crowleys DFK commented:

“There is no doubt that joining DFK in 1993 has been a significant catalyst in the success and growth of our firm. Since then, we have grown to become a 10 Partner and 115 staff practice and one of the leading independent practices in Ireland.

There is great comfort in being able to connect our clients with trusted friends all around the world when they need help and advice abroad.”

The association provides us with a platform to share knowledge, ideas and best practice as well as information about the latest technology to ensure we remain at the forefront of the sector.

It is also a pioneer in training and development, creating programmes to specifically develop young professionals in the industry as they progress in their careers.

DFK International has 229 member firms which have a combined total of 441 offices across 93 countries.

The association strives for equality, diversity and inclusion, promoting a culture that celebrates difference, challenges prejudice and ensures fairness.

We are proud to have been part of such a magnificent organisation for such a long time and look forward to continuing to be part of the DFK family.

DFK International Conference 2019 in Singapore

Eddie Murphy & James O’Connor DFK International Conference 2019, Singapore

Happy 60th Birthday DFK!

To learn more about DFK International visit www.dfk.com.

In 2021, all charities registered in Ireland must complete their first annual Compliance Record Form to comply with the Charities Regulatory Authority (CRA) Governance Code (the Code). 

How to demonstrate compliance with the Code

  1. The Code sets out the minimum standards that charity trustees should meet to effectively manage and control their charity.
  2. To demonstrate compliance with the Code, charities must complete the Compliance Record Form and subsequently update the Compliance Record Form every year.
  3. The Code operates on a ‘comply or explain’ basis, meaning that charities must comply with the Code or else explain why they have not done so.
  4. Compliance with each specific standard must be demonstrated as part of the Compliance Record Form. Organisations must record the actions that the charity has taken to meet each standard of the Code and reference the evidence that backs this up. The Compliance Record can also be used to explain why a charity is not in compliance with any particular standard in the Code.

Reporting on compliance with the Code in 2021

Under the Charities Act 2009, every registered charity in Ireland is required to submit an Annual Report to the Charities Regulator within ten months of the charity’s financial year-end. From 2021, charities will be required to submit a declaration in relation to compliance with the Code with their Annual Report.

A charity will be required to determine if:

  1. It does not need to meet the Additional Standards of the Charities Governance Code.
  2. It does need to meet the Additional Standards of the Charities Governance Code.
  3. It has not yet commenced compliance with the Charities Governance Code.

Additional standards of the code are those standards which a charity that is considered “complex” should meet or charities who are not complex but decided to apply the additional standards.

The CRA has not defined what is considered a “complex” charity and the charities trustees of each organisation are best placed to make that decision. Charity trustees can base this decision on indicators such as income streams, number of employees, complexity of activities, working with vulnerable people or operating overseas.

The charity will be required to declare if, at the time of filing its Annual Report, they have:

  1. Complied with all sections of the Charities Governance Code.
  2. Complied with some of the sections of the Charities Governance Code.

Formal adoption of the Code at Board meetings

All charities are expected is to discuss and agree at board meetings how they will meet the standards of the Code and to document their decisions in the minutes. The Compliance Record Form should record the actions taken to meet each standard of the Code and all minutes of meetings relevant to each standard of the Code.

Monitoring

The Charities Regulator will adopt a balanced and proportionate response in relation to any charity which is not in full compliance with the Code in 2021, with an emphasis on understanding common reasons for partial or non-compliance. This will enable the Regulator to identify common reasons for non-compliance and provide further guidance to charities on meeting the standards set out in the Code.

How Crowleys DFK can help

We recognise that completing the Compliance Record Form and ensuring compliance is properly documented is a time-consuming task and the process will be challenging for many organisations. At Crowleys DFK, we can assist you through the process of completing the Compliance Record Form. We have developed a suite of templates for the Compliance Record Form and the various policies and documents needed as evidence of compliance.

For more information and expert advice, contact a member of our Charities & Not-for-Profit team.

SICAP Audits

The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) 2018 –2022 provides funding to tackle poverty and promote social inclusion and equality through local engagement and partnerships with disadvantaged individuals, community organisations and public sector agencies.

The programme has two goals that focus on supporting communities and individuals:

Goal 1: Supporting Communities – To support communities and target groups to engage with relevant stakeholders in identifying and addressing social exclusion and equality issues, developing the capacity of local community groups and creating more sustainable communities.

Goal 2: Supporting Individuals – To support disadvantaged individuals to improve the quality of their lives through the provision of lifelong learning and labour market supports.

SICAP is managed and administered by the Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) in each local authority area, which may be delivered at a local level by external party/(ies).

From 2018, the role of conducting audit / verification checks on the external parties receiving SICAP funding has been subsumed into the internal audit function of each Local Authority.

How can Crowleys DFK help?

Crowleys DFK has the expertise to conduct SICAP audits / verification checks for Local Authorities’ Internal Audit Units and LCDCs.

Our subject matter specialists have taken part in SICAP training programmes delivered by both POBAL and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and our audit team are fully trained on the usage of SICAP’s data management system IRIS.

We understand that the audits must have a financial focus and can provide assurance that grant monies are spent for the purposes intended in accordance with programme rules and contractual conditions. The audits must also include a review of internal financial controls and corporate governance arrangements.

Contact Vincent Teo or Tony Cooney for more information on how Crowleys DFK can assist you with your SICAP audits.

The Central Bank have issued new regulations regarding new lending rules for Credit Unions. These will come into effect in January 2020.

As a result of the new regulations, the existing lending maturity limits which cap the percentage of their lending for periods of greater than five and ten years will be removed. These maturity limits will be replaced by new concentration limits on a tiered basis, for home mortgage and business loans, expressed as a percentage of total assets.

This means credit unions with the financial strength, competence and capability, will have the flexibility to undertake increased longer term lending. This includes home mortgage and business lending.

“The changes being announced today follow a comprehensive review of the lending framework for credit unions. This forms part of our commitment to ensuring a responsive regulatory framework. It is important that the lending framework remains appropriate for credit unions taking account of their risk management, capabilities, expertise and financial resilience,” said Patrick Casey, Registrar for Credit Unions.

You can read the Central Bank’s press release here.

At Crowleys DFK, we provide a variety of services to credit unions. For further information, please contact Tony Cooney, Partner & Head of Risk Consulting.

Edward Murphy, Head of Tax, was featured in Cork Chamber’s 200th anniversary magazine. He discusses Cork, the local Cork SME sector and it’s success on the domestic and global stage.

You can read the full interview below.

Q:   What’s it like to do business in Ireland’s fastest growing city region?

A:   It’s hard not to be excited by the hive of activity in Cork in recent years – from the myriad of new developments, a growing workforce and a thriving third-level education sector to the region’s continued success in attracting high-value overseas investment. However, it’s the global success of our indigenous Cork SME sector that is, perhaps the most exciting.

Q:   Why have indigenous Cork SMEs been so successful locally and globally?

A:   While Cork has a well-earned reputation in attracting and retaining foreign direct investment, the support it offers homegrown entrepreneurs and SMEs is second to none. Innovation and the ambition to think globally is nurtured through an excellent support ecosystem of start-up incubators, accelerator programmes and research, development and innovation hubs; backed by local business organisations, third-level institutions, and public and private investors.

Q:   What are the key challenges facing SMEs looking to expand overseas?

A:   The continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit is currently the biggest challenge facing SMEs that trade with the UK. However, a constant challenge relevant to all markets is access to local, trusted and reliable professional connections and advice overseas. This is a key step in any global expansion strategy and is often a major stumbling block for many businesses. Understanding how to do business in a new jurisdiction can be time consuming and expensive when you don’t have a local relationship or know where to go to get the proper advice.

Q:   Can you describe how Crowleys DFK can help SMEs with their international growth strategies?

A:   At Crowleys DFK, we understand the challenges faced by our SME and owner-managed business clients. We are proud of the reputation and long-term relationships we have built with them over the years. They represent a diverse range of today’s most innovative and high-performing industries and sectors, including information and communications technology, life sciences, manufacturing and consumer products.

We have been a member of DFK International since 1993. This worldwide association of independent accounting, tax and business advisory firms has over 220 member firms covering 92 countries. We have a long history of working with other DFK Firms. It’s through these strong relationships that we can deliver a complete international service to clients.

Whether it’s getting advice on taking on two employees in Germany, accessing capital markets in London or New York or helping technology companies expand into San Francisco, we connect our clients with trusted professionals throughout the world. In many cases our clients prefer to deal with us and in these instances, we instruct the other DFK firms. This means clients can concentrate on their business and don’t need to spend time developing new relationships abroad.

We have all the right connections to help businesses achieve their ambitions – locally and globally.

Contact us today for expert advice on growing your SME.

The Help to Buy (HTB) incentive is a scheme to help first time property buyers. It helps with the deposit needed to buy or build a new house or apartment. In order to claim the HTB scheme, you must:

  • Be a first-time buyer
  • Take out a mortgage that is at least 70% of the purchase value of the property
  • Be tax compliant
  • Live in the property for a minimum of 5 years after purchase

To qualify, you must have not bought or built a house or apartment previously on your own or jointly with any other person. You will still qualify for HTB if you have previously inherited or have been gifted a property.

The HTB scheme is back dated to include homes bought from 19 July 2016 and will be available to 31 December 2019. If the property was purchased between 19 July 2016 and 31 December 2016, the price of the property must be €600,000 or less. If the property is bought between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2019, the property must cost €500,000 or less.

The amount you can claim is the lessor of the following:

  • €20,000
  • 5% of the purchase price of the new home.
  • The amount of Income Tax and Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) you have paid in the previous 4 tax years.

Regardless of the amount of people who enter into the contract to buy or build the property, the cap of €20,000 applies. Universal Service Charge (USC) and Pay related Social Insurance (PRSI) are not considered when calculating the amount you are entitled to claim.

If you purchased or built the property between 19 July 2016 and 31 December 2016, the refund will be issued directly to you. If you buy a new build between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2019, the refund will be issued to your contractor. The contractor must be approved by Revenue. If you self-build, the refund is paid to a bank account held with your mortgage provider.

Revenue may clawback the refund if:

  • You do not live in the property for 5 years
  • You do not complete the process to buy the house
  • You were not entitled to the refund
  • The property is not completed

Once the property is built or bought, you have the sole responsibility of complying with the conditions for the HTB refund.

If you require any assistance with HTB or  further details on the above, please contact us.

A recent High Court decision has a significant bearing on the application of dwelling house exemption to beneficiaries who inherit a mixed asset estate, comprising of a number of residential properties.

The dwelling house exemption allows someone to inherit a property tax-free provided that they have lived in it for three years before the homeowner’s death and that it was the main home of the person who has died. Critically, if a person owns even a share in another property “at the date of inheritance”, they lose their entitlement to the relief. Revenue has always been of the view that if someone who would otherwise qualify for dwelling house relief inherits not just the main home of the disponer but another property, or a share in another property, they no longer meet the eligibility criteria.

A Court ruling on 25th September 2018 has changed the rules on dwelling house exemption. The High Court ruled in the case of a successor, who inherited both the family home where the successor had lived with the disponer and an interest in four other properties, was entitled to the dwelling house exemption. The judge held that the successor did not have a beneficial interest in either of the dwelling houses at the date of the inheritance, as a successor cannot become beneficially entitled to a house which forms part of the residue of an estate until the assets available for distribution have been ascertained.

The impact of the Court case is that you will no longer be disbarred from dwelling house relief if you inherit property other than the family home in the same will. Revenue has now adopted a revised approach in distinguishing between dwelling houses inherited as a specific legacy and those inherited in the residue of an estate.

Accordingly, a dwelling house forming part of the residue of an estate is not to be taken into account in determining whether a successor has an interest in another dwelling house at the date of an inheritance. Ownership of property received as part of the residue of a will would occur at a later date than “at the date of inheritance”.

Anyone receiving a specific legacy of an interest in a property as well as receiving the family home will continue to be excluded. This is because, as a specific legacy, beneficial ownership of the “other” property would transfer at the same time as the family home.

Revenue acknowledged that if any taxpayers find themselves in a similar set of facts as this case then they may be entitled to a refund of the tax paid, bearing in the mind the four year limit that applies to refunds of tax.

Should you require any further details on the dwelling house exemption, please contact us.