Many companies fail to realise that their Research and Development activities could qualify for valuable tax incentives, explains Edward Murphy, Partner and Head of Tax Services.

Ireland has a well established reputation as a friendly environment for innovative businesses. Government strategy, set out in Innovation 2020, is to nurture excellent research in strategically important areas that benefit the economy and society. A key ambition is to increase investment in research and development and, to this end, Government works with, and funds, various programmes through agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, IDA Ireland, InterTrade Ireland and the Higher Education Authority. In addition, research and development tax incentives are available to help develop business and attract high quality jobs. Two of the most important of these incentives are the Research & Development Tax Credit regime and the Knowledge Development Box.

R&D Tax Credit

If your company spends money on research and development activities, you may qualify for a Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit. This scheme is administered by the Irish Revenue Commissioners and is open to companies who are liable to Irish tax and carrying out qualifying R&D activity in Ireland and/or the European Economic Area (EEA).

The credit is calculated at 25% of qualifying expenditure and is used to reduce your company’s liability to Corporation Tax.

If you have insufficient Corporation Tax against which to claim the R&D tax credit in a given accounting period, the credit may be set against the Corporation Tax for the preceding period. It can also be carried forward indefinitely or, if your company is a member of a group, it can be allocated to other group members.

In some circumstances, the R&D credit can also be claimed as a payable credit.

Qualifying research and development activities must meet certain conditions, such as:

  • involve systemic, investigative or experimental activities
  • be in the field of science or technology
  • involve basic research and/or applied research and/or experimental development
  • seek to make scientific or technological advancement
  • involve the resolution of scientific or technological uncertainty.

To claim the R&D tax credit, it is not necessary to hold the intellectual property rights resulting from the R&D work. It is also not necessary for the R&D work to be successful. The credit is claimed using the Revenue Online Service (ROS). However, before submitting a claim it is important to check that you meet the requirements and have all the necessary supporting documentation. While this may appear onerous, a good tax advisor can guide you through the process. Paying attention to detail when submitting your claim can help avoid Revenue queries and/or a Revenue audit.

Knowledge Development Box

The Knowledge Development Box (KDB) is a tax relief which reduces the Corporation Tax payable on a company’s income from qualifying patents, computer programmes and, for smaller companies, certain other certified intellectual property (IP). Ireland’s KDB was the first IP regime to be fully compliant with new international tax standards and ranks favourably with similar schemes in other countries.

If your company qualifies for the KDB regime, you can avail of a deduction equal to 50 percent of your qualifying profits. In effect, this reduces the normal Corporation Tax rate of 12.5 percent to 6.25 percent on qualifying profits.

For KDB purposes, qualifying assets are those created from R&D activities such as:

  • a computer programme
  • an invention protected by a qualifying patent
  • IP for small companies which is certified by the Controller of Patents as patentable, but not patented.

Marketing related IP such as trademarks, brands, image rights and other intellectual property used to market goods or services are not considered to be qualifying assets.

To apply for the KDB, you must submit your claim on your Corporation Tax return via the Revenue Online Service (ROS). As with R&D tax credits, before submitting a claim it is important to check that you meet the requirements and have all the necessary supporting documentation.

Conclusion

Companies sometimes mistakenly believe that they are not engaged in research and development because they do no operate in industries such as pharma or technology. However, in many instances, companies in other sectors such as manufacturing, energy, financial services, agribusiness, food and drink, are eligible for R&D tax credits and/or the Knowledge Development Box. While navigating the conditions attached to submitting a claim can appear daunting, these are valuable incentives both for indigenous Irish SMEs and for multinationals and are therefore well worth considering.

Talk to us

Edward Murphy
Partner and Head of Tax Services
edward.murphy@crowleysdfk.ie

Personal Tax

  • Cuts to the two middle rates of Universal Social Charge – 2.5% rate cut to 2%; 5% rate cut to 4.75%.

  Incomes of €13,000 or less are exempt from the USC. Otherwise, rates are as follows:

Income €                      Rate

0- 12,012                          0.5%

12,012 – 19,372               2%

19,372 – 70,044               4.75%

70,044 +                            8%

Self-employed income in excess of €100,000 at 3%.
The USC relief for medical card holders is being extended fro another two years. Medical card holders and individuals aged 70 years and over whose aggregate income does  not exceed €60,000 will now pay maximum rate of USC of 2%.
Marginal tax rates on incomes up to €70,044 reduced from 49% to 48.75%.

  • Income Tax Bands – the threshold which an individual will pay tax at the 40% rate of income tax will rise from its current level of €33,800 by €750 to €34,550.
  • The Home Carer Tax Credit will increase from €1,100 to €1,200.
  • The Earned Income Credit will increase from €950 to €1,150.
  • There will be a tapered extension to mortgage interest relief for remaining recipients – owner occupiers who took out qualifying mortgages between 2004-2012. 75% of the existing relief will be continued into 2018, 50% in 2019 and 25% in 2020. The relief will cease entirely from 2021.
  • A new deduction for pre-letting expenses of a revenue nature incurred on a property that has been vacant for a period of 12 months is being introduced. The cap on the expenditure is €5,000 per property and the relief will be subject to a clawback if the property is withdrawn from the rental market within 4 years. The relief is available for qualifying expenses incurred up to the end of 2021.
  • A share based remuneration incentive – Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP) is being introduced to facilitate the use of share based remuneration by unquoted small to medium enterprises to retain key employees. Gains arising to employees on the exercise of KEEP shares will be subject to capital gains tax as opposed to the current liability to income tax, USC and PRSI on exercise. This incentive will be available for qualifying share options granted between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2023.

VAT

  • Standard rate of VAT will remain at 23%.
  • The reduced 9% rate of VAT for the tourism and hospitality sector, introduced in 2011, will remain.
  • The rate of VAT on sun-bed services is being increased from 13.5% to 23% from 1 January 2018 in line with the government national cancer strategy.
  • A charities VAT compensation scheme is being introduced in 2019 in respect of VAT expenses incurred in 2018. Charities will be entitled to a refund of a proportion of their VAT costs based on the level of non-public funding they receive.

Stamp Duty

  • The rate of stamp duty on non-residential property will increase from 2% to 6%.
  • In relation to commercial land purchased for the development of housing, there will be the introduction of a stamp duty refund scheme. The refund will be subject to conditions, including a requirement that developers will have to commence the relevant development within 30 months of the land purchase.
  • Consanguinity stamp duty relief at 1% for inter-family farm transfers is extended for a further three years.
  • The exemption for young trained farmers from stamp duty on agricultural land transactions continues.
  • The vacant site levy will increase from 3% to 7% in the second and subsequent years. In practical terms, the owner of a vacant site on the register who does not develop their land in 2018 will pay the levy of 3% in 2019 and then become liable to the increased rate of 7% from 1 January 2019.

Capital Gains Tax and Capital Acquisitions Tax

  • There is a change to the 7-year CGT relief that will allow the owners of qualifying assets to sell those assets between the fourth and seventh anniversaries of their acquisition and still enjoy full relief from CGT on any chargeable gains.
  • The leasing of agricultural land for solar panels is to be classified as qualifying agricultural activity for the purposes of CAT agricultural relief and CGT retirement relief. This initiative is subject to the panels no more than covering 50% of the total farm holding.
  • The life time thresholds for capital acquisitions tax remain unchanged.

Corporation Tax

  • Confirmation of the 12.5% rate of tax.
  • The deduction for capital allowances for intangible assets, and any related interest expense, will be limited to 80% of the relevant income arising from intangible assets in an accounting period.
  • Accelerated capital allowances for energy efficient equipment is being extended until the end of 2020.

Other Measures

  • The excise duty on a packet of 20 cigarettes is being increased by 50 cents with a pro-rate increase on other tobacco products, and an additional 25c on roll your own tobacco. This will take effect from midnight on 10 October 2017.
  • A sugar tax is to be introduced on the 1 April 2018. A tax of 30c will apply to drinks with a sugar content of 8 grams or more per 100ml. A tax of 20c will apply to drinks with a sugar content of between 5 grams and 8 grams per 100ml. These levels are consistent with the rates being introduced in the UK in April 2018 and Ireland’s sugar tax will commence at the same time as the UK.
  • A 0% benefit-in-kind (BIK) is being introduced for electric vehicles for a period of one year. Electricity used in the workplace for charging vehicles will also be exempt from benefit in kind.
  • State Pension will rise by €5 per week with effect from the last week in March 2018.
  • All other weekly social welfare payments to increase by €5 per week, including the carer’s allowance, disability allowance and jobseeker’s benefit and allowance.
  • Prescription charges are to be reduced for everyone with a medical card under the age of 70 from €2.50 to €2 per item and the monthly cap for prescription charges decreased from €25 to €20.
  • There will be a reduction in the threshold for the Drugs Payment Scheme from €144 to €134.
  • In order to assist small and medium businesses prepare for Brexit, a Brexit Loan Scheme will be introduced. A loan scheme of €300m, will be available at competitive rates to SMEs, to assist them with short term working capital requirements.

If you would like further information, please contact our Tax Team.


View our Budget 2018 Analysis

Download a PDF of the key highlights from Budget 2018

 

 

 

Budget 2018 was delivered by Minister Donohoe in the continuing context of an Irish economy in good shape and with strong and sustainable future growth predicted.  However, with potential Brexit headwinds forecast and being mindful of not returning to the days of giveaway budgets (remember them?), he delivered a constructed ‘balancing act’ that didn’t significantly affect many.

So how does this budget affect your disposable income?

The reductions in the rates of the USC will benefit everyone with particular focus on middle incomes. The point at which the marginal tax rate kicks in was increased by €750 to €34,550. For the self-employed, the earned income credit increases from €950 to €1,150.

Pensioners and those in receipt of social welfare payments will also benefit with an increase of €5 from March 2018. The Christmas bonus for social welfare recipients has remained at 85%.

Prescription charges are further reduced to €2 and this charge now applies to medical card holders of all ages.

However, if you are partial to a cigarette whilst sipping your fizzy drink, then prepare from tomorrow to pay an extra 50c on a pack of 20 cigarettes and to start paying Sugar Tax of 20c/30c per litre from April 2018.

Housing and other matters

With the Minister noting the “corrosive impact of homelessness” on the State in his speech, he announced an allocation of €1.8 billion for housing next year, which he said would help to fund the building of 3,800 new social homes next year.

Other measures to increase the supply of housing/land, include the tax deductibility of pre-letting expenses, the reduction of the CGT ‘hold period’ from 7 years to 4 years and the increase vacant site tax rate from 3% to 7%.

However, the rationale of raising the Stamp Duty rate three-fold to 6% on commercial property, apart from funding many other tax cuts/spending increases, appears to fly in the face of the residential property ‘supply measures’.

The Budget also continues the commitment to repair the State’s public services with increases in the number of teachers and guards, and significant additional funding being made available for education and health. The litmus test will be whether anyone will experience a notable improvement in services during 2018.

The tourism sector will continue to benefit from the reduced rate of VAT at 9%. The agri-food sector, in particular, will benefit from the introduction of a Brexit Loan Scheme.

Foreign Direct Investment

The Minister took the opportunity to reaffirm Ireland’s corporation tax rate at 12.5%. This is and will remain the central plank of Ireland’s FDI offering. However, restricting the deduction for capital allowance and interest on Intangible Assets to 80% of relevant income is a backwards step.

Overall, Budget 2018 is the final (Balancing) Act in Ireland achieving a projected deficit by end of 2018 at near 0% of GDP.

It may take you until then though to have worked out if this was a good Budget for you or your business!

Edward Murphy
Partner and Head of Tax Services
edward.murphy@crowleysdk.ie

 

 

 

If you would like further information, please contact our Tax Team.


View the key highlights from Budget 2018

Download a PDF of our Budget 2018 Analysis