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A Guide to Entrepreneur Relief in Ireland: Maximising Tax Breaks

18 May by Coffey & Co

Entrepreneur Relief in Ireland offers business owners a significant opportunity to save on taxes when selling their business assets. This relief allows individuals to benefit from a reduced Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rate of 10% on qualifying business assets up to a lifetime limit of €1 million. This can be a game changer for entrepreneurs looking to maximise their returns when exiting a business venture.

The revised Entrepreneur Relief, introduced by the Finance Act 2015, targets those disposing of business assets. By reducing the tax burden, it encourages investment and sustains economic growth. Eligible individuals can save substantially compared to the standard CGT rate of 33%, making it a valuable incentive for entrepreneurs in Ireland.

Understanding the specifics of what qualifies as business assets and the eligibility criteria is crucial for taking full advantage of this tax break. This guide will walk through the essentials, helping business owners navigate the complexities and ensure they make the most of Entrepreneur Relief.

Understanding Entrepreneur Relief in Ireland

Entrepreneur Relief in Ireland is a beneficial tax scheme that offers qualifying business owners a reduced Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rate. It encourages entrepreneurship and succession planning by easing the tax burden when selling business assets.

Definition and Purpose

Entrepreneur Relief allows individuals to benefit from a lower CGT rate of 10% on gains from the disposal of qualifying business assets.

These assets can include shares in a company or business assets used in a trade. The primary goal is incentivising business owners to invest and grow their enterprises by providing substantial tax savings upon exit.

This relief is especially valuable for entrepreneurs looking to sell their business or pass it on, as it helps them retain a larger portion of the proceeds.

History and Legislative Background

The relief has undergone several revisions, most notably in Section 597AA of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, inserted by the Finance Act 2015. These updates have aimed to simplify the process and extend the benefits to a broader range of business owners.

Understanding the historical evolution of this relief helps clarify its current application and the legislative intent behind its creation.

Eligibility Criteria

To benefit from Entrepreneur Relief in Ireland, individuals and businesses must meet specific conditions. Qualifying Individuals need to hold and work within the business, while Qualifying Businesses and Assets must meet criteria related to ownership and purpose.

Qualifying Individuals

Individuals such as sole traders, partners, and shareholders can be eligible. They must have owned the business assets for a continuous period of three years in the five years before the disposal.

Directors and employees who own at least 5% of the ordinary shares in a Qualifying Business can also qualify. These shares must be held for at least three years within the five-year period.

Qualifying Businesses and Assets

Only certain types of businesses and assets qualify. The business must be a Trading Company. Non-trading companies, like investment companies, do not meet the criteria.

Qualifying Business Assets include buildings, shares of subsidiary companies, and goodwill. Businesses should earn most of their income from trading activities, not investments.

For groups, the parent company and its subsidiaries must all fulfil the criteria to form a Qualifying Group. The relief applies only to qualifying asset disposals within such an eligible group.

The Scope of Tax Relief

Entrepreneur Relief provides significant tax advantages for eligible business owners. Understanding the key limits and the types of gains and assets covered is essential to maximise the available benefits.

Limits on Tax Relief

Entrepreneur Relief allows for a reduced Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rate of 10% on gains from the disposal of qualifying business assets. Eligible individuals can claim this reduced rate up to a lifetime limit of €1 million. This is a substantial saving compared to the standard CGT rate of 33%.

Exceeding the €1 million threshold means that any additional gains will be subject to the normal CGT rate. Therefore, planning disposals and timing can be crucial to optimising tax liabilities.

Under the current regulations, only gains on disposals made after 1 January 2016 qualify for this relief. To qualify for this relief, the business owner must meet specific conditions, like holding the business asset for a minimum period, usually three years.

Types of Gains and Assets Covered

Eligible gains include those made from the disposal of qualifying business assets such as trading assets, shares in a qualifying company, and certain securities. This does not typically include gains on development land or investment properties, focusing instead on assets directly involved in producing business income.

A qualifying company must be trading, and the claimant must own at least 5% of the company’s shares. Gains from selling businesses, shares, or certain securities are eligible, provided they meet the conditions set out by the Irish Tax Authorities. This focuses the relief on encouraging investment in active business operations rather than passive investments.

Relief also applies to partnerships and sole traders, provided the assets meet the qualifying criteria. This provision ensures that a wide range of business structures can benefit from the reduced tax rate, encouraging entrepreneurship across different types of business ownership.

Calculating and Claiming Relief

Calculating and claiming Entrepreneur Relief in Ireland involves understanding the specific steps to assess tax savings and following the proper procedure for documentation.

Steps to Calculate Tax Savings

To calculate tax savings, small business owners need to figure out their Capital Gains Tax (CGT) using the reduced rate of 10% on gains from qualifying business assets.

  1. Determine the Gain: Start by calculating the gain from the disposal of qualifying assets.
  2. Apply the Reduced Rate: Use the 10% reduced rate instead of the standard 33% CGT rate for these gains.
  3. Consider Ownership: Ensure the assets have been held for a sufficient period and meet the ownership requirements.
  4. Calculate the Savings: Compare the tax liability using the reduced rate versus the standard rate to identify the tax savings.


Gain from AssetStandard CGT (33%)Reduced CGT (10%)Tax Savings

Claiming Procedure and Documentation

Filing for Entrepreneur Relief requires the following specific steps:

  1. Revenue Notification: Inform the Revenue about the disposal of qualifying assets.
  2. Submit Returns: Include the calculated gains and relevant tax savings on the annual tax return.
  3. Provide Documentation: Attach evidence of the qualifying assets, including proof of ownership period and details of the transaction.
  4. Review and Compliance: Ensure all submissions comply with Revenue guidelines to avoid penalties.

Proper documentation is crucial for claiming relief. It includes keeping detailed asset ownership records, valuations, and sale agreements. Following these steps helps streamline the process and ensures that tax benefits are appropriately applied.

Structuring Your Business for Maximum Benefit

Carefully structuring your business can significantly impact the benefits you receive from Entrepreneur Relief. Consider key elements such as incorporation, shareholding, and pre-structuring steps to maximise tax efficiency and eligibility.

Pre-structuring Steps

Before making structural changes, perform a thorough asset review. Examine which assets qualify for relief, including qualifying business assets and any partnership assets. Consulting with an accountancy firm is advisable to ensure accuracy.

Evaluate the letting of land. Land not used for business purposes may impact eligibility. Align land use with business activities where possible.

Examine your business’s technical capacity. Make sure it meets the requirements laid out for Entrepreneur Relief. This includes confirming that your business structure and operations align with what qualifies for the relief.

Incorporation, Shareholding, and Share Buybacks

Consider the incorporation of a business. Incorporation can offer tax advantages and impact eligibility for Entrepreneur Relief. It provides the framework for ordinary share capital and allows better management of shareholding structures.

Setting up a double-holding company structure can be beneficial. This can streamline tax planning and improve access to relief benefits. Ensure the shareholding is configured to optimise relief, paying attention to the ownership period and percentage.

Plan for share buybacks if necessary. Share buybacks can be a useful tool to reorganize ownership and to ensure that shareholders meet the qualifying criteria for relief. Careful planning during the liquidation phase can also maximise the relief benefits for business owners.

Focus on these elements to ensure your business is structured for maximum benefit under Entrepreneur Relief. Each step can contribute significantly to achieving optimal tax savings.

Comparative Analysis with Other Reliefs

When considering entrepreneur relief in Ireland, examining other tax relief options available, such as Retirement Relief and the Seed Capital Scheme is essential. These options offer various benefits and have different eligibility criteria and applications.

Retirement Relief

Retirement Relief is a valuable tax relief for individuals considering disposing of business or farming assets. It is available for those aged 55 and over, allowing them to dispose of qualifying assets without incurring Capital Gains Tax (CGT).

Eligibility Criteria:

  • The individual must be 55 years or older.
  • The assets must have been owned and used in a trade or profession for a minimum period (usually 10 years).


  • Available up to a disposal value threshold, beyond which tapering relief applies.
  • Helps in planning for retirement and transferring business assets efficiently.


  • Subject to specific lifetime limits may reduce the relief’s effectiveness for high-value assets.
  • Primarily aimed at individuals nearing retirement age, limiting its applicability to younger entrepreneurs.

Seed Capital Scheme

The Seed Capital Scheme encourages entrepreneurship by providing tax relief for individuals starting new businesses. This scheme allows directors or employees to reclaim income tax paid in previous years to invest in new business ventures.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • The individual must leave a secure employment position to start a new business.
  • Investment must be in a qualifying trading company and must not exceed specific limits.


  • Provides significant financial support during the critical start-up phase.
  • Allows reclaiming income tax from previous years, making it an attractive option for new entrepreneurs.


  • The new business must meet stringent qualifying criteria.
  • The relief is available only for investments in trading companies, not passive investments.

Comparing these reliefs provides a broader viewpoint on the tax-efficient options available to entrepreneurs in Ireland. Each relief has distinct advantages and limitations, making them suitable for different stages of an entrepreneur’s journey.

Complementary Strategies for Entrepreneurs

Effective entrepreneur relief hinges on robust complementary strategies. These strategies include advanced tax planning and legal and financial advisory to maximise benefits and minimise risks.

Advanced Tax Planning

Advanced tax planning is critical for entrepreneurs looking to optimise tax savings. It involves a detailed review of all available reliefs and planning for potential tax impacts before they occur.

By partnering with experienced tax professionals, entrepreneurs can uncover various potential tax-saving opportunities. Important aspects include:

  • Structuring Business Sales: Ensuring sales are structured to qualify for relief.
  • Timing of Asset Disposal: Strategically planning when to dispose of assets to take advantage of favourable tax periods.
  • Maximising Allowances: Fully utilising available allowances to reduce taxable income.

Strategic planning helps ensure that entrepreneurs comply with legal requirements and benefit from the full range of available reliefs.

Legal and Financial Advisory

Legal and financial advisory services are indispensable for navigating the complexities of entrepreneur relief. These services provide a comprehensive approach that covers all legal and financial aspects of the business.

Key services include:

  • Legal Documentation: Ensuring all transactions are legally sound and appropriately documented.
  • Financial Health Checks: Regularly assess the business’s financial health to identify areas for improvement.
  • Professional Advice: Obtaining advice from accountants, financial advisors, and legal experts to ensure all actions align with overall business goals.

Effective legal and financial advisory helps entrepreneurs avoid pitfalls and make informed decisions that support long-term business sustainability.

Regulatory Developments and Future Outlook

Entrepreneur Relief has undergone several changes aimed at improving its attractiveness and accessibility. Key updates and anticipated future trends are essential for business owners planning to utilise these tax benefits.

Recent Amendments

Recent changes to Entrepreneur Relief focus on simplifying access and enhancing benefits for qualifying individuals. Amendments have clarified eligibility criteria and streamlined claims processes.

The 10% rate on Capital Gains Tax (CGT) remains a major draw. This reduced rate applies to gains from qualifying business assets, capped at a lifetime limit of €1 million.

The Revised Entrepreneur Relief Manual, updated periodically, contains the latest procedural details and eligibility requirements.

Adjustments to thresholds and qualifying periods are among efforts to make the relief more inclusive. These amendments help align the relief with current economic and business environments, making it a more attractive option for entrepreneurs.

Expert Predictions on Entrepreneur Relief

Experts predict that Entrepreneur Relief will continue to evolve to support business growth and innovation. There is a strong push for increasing the lifetime cap above the current €1 million limit to accommodate larger business transactions.

Economic analysts believe further enhancements might include additional reductions in the CGT rate or increased allowances to spur more entrepreneurial ventures.

Experts also anticipate more straightforward guidelines and digital portals to ease application. Continued collaboration between government entities and financial advisors aims to fine-tune the relief to serve entrepreneurs better, reflecting the dynamic nature of the business landscape in Ireland.

How Coffey & Co Accountants Can Help

Entrepreneur Relief can be a great way to save on your tax bill. You should considerably plan your business to ensure your assets qualify for such tax relief. 

At Coffey & Co, we can help you determine your eligibility for Entrepreneur Relief, calculate your tax liability, and submit timely tax returns. Our team of tax experts will identify appropriate opportunities for tax planning and assist you in structuring your businesses to maximise the potential tax savings under this tax relief.

Schedule an appointment to learn more.

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