Three ways businesses in Ireland can reduce tax liabilities are to claim tax credits, claim tax reliefs, and claim tax-deductible business expenses.

If you are starting a business, in the early stages of setting up, or when preparing your taxes, you may ask yourself, “What can help reduce the amount of taxes you owe?”

In this guide, we discuss how businesses can reduce tax liabilities by giving you insight into the types of schemes available. However, it’s important to note that not all tax schemes apply to everyone, so talk to your accountant for specific advice about your circumstances.

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What is the difference between tax credits, reliefs and expenses?

Tax credits

A tax credit is an item that directly reduces the amount of tax you pay in a full tax year, thereby reducing your tax liability. Some tax credits are given automatically and others you must claim through a tax return.

Tax relief

Tax reliefs directly reduce the income on which you pay tax and is usually given as a refund of tax due when you file a tax return. The amount usually depends on the rate of tax you pay.

Claim business expenses

Your tax bill is based on the profit of a business and profit is the money that is left over after you deduct expenses. This means business expenses can lower your tax liability at the end of the year.

Tax credits for business owners in Ireland

Sole Traders and companies in Ireland have access to different tax credits. However, if you are also an employee or Director of a Limited Company, you can claim similar tax credits to a Sole Trader.

We go through some examples below but we recommend you seek advice from an accountant as each situation is different and not all tax credits will apply.

25% tax credit for Research And Development (R&D)

The R&D tax credit is for Limited Companies in Ireland. It is a value-based incentive encouraging companies to invest in R&D activities in the European Economic Area (EEA). If your company fulfils technical requirements, you can claim up to 25% of the cost of R&D expenditure by reducing your Corporation Tax in Ireland.

Find out more about what kind of R&D activities qualify and how to claim your R&D tax credit in our guide. For more information on how we can help, talk to our Client Services Team. 

Earned Income tax credit

The Earned Income Credit is a tax credit based on the type of pay that you earn. It applies to Sole Traders, proprietary directors (owning more than 15% of the ordinary share capital of a company), and the spouse or child of proprietary directors. 

You can claim this by logging into Revenue’s myAccount and adding it to your current tax credits, or you can claim it on your Income Tax Return (Form 11). 

Employee (PAYE) Tax Credit

Sole Traders starting a business while working full-time can avail of both the Earned Income and Employee Tax Credit. However, there are limitations on the combined amount, which cannot exceed a certain amount, so we recommend that you seek advice from a professional.

It’s important to note that proprietary directors (owning more than 15% of ordinary share capital in a company), their spouse, or civil partner receiving income directly related to that directorship cannot claim the employee tax credit.

How to claim tax credits?

Sole Traders and directors must file income tax returns annually by completing Form 11 on Revenue’s Online System (ROS). This is sometimes referred to as a Directors Return if you are a director of an Irish company.

This form will outline your total income for the previous year and the amount of tax to pay, including preliminary tax for Sole Traders.

If you need help filling out your Income Tax Returns, our professional team can do so on your behalf.

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Tax reliefs for businesses owners in Ireland

Tax relief reduces your total taxable income which can reduce taxes paid. You may be eligible to claim back tax paid over the last four years. Here, we explain some of the most common type of tax relief in Ireland.

  • Cycle to work

    Employees who cycle to and from work are eligible for this tax relief. Employers can pay for bicycles and bicycle equipment for employees and the employee pays back through salary deductions of up to 12 months.

  • Medical insurance

    The amount of tax relief is calculated by the insurer and the cost of your policy is reduced by this amount. specifies the approved insurance providers.

  • Rent-a-room

    You’re entitled to this tax deduction if you rent a room in your home where you live for one year. You don’t have to own the property, you could be a tenant and sub-let to someone else. You can claim the tax relief by preparing rental income accounts and filing a tax return.

  • Transborder workers

    People who are a resident in Ireland but work and pay tax in another country are eligible to claim this tax deduction. You need to work for a continuous period of 13 weeks in a year and you cannot claim this relief if your spouse or civil partner is a proprietary director for the company you work for.

  • €1000 Small Benefits Exemption for Limited Companies

    A non-cash benefit of up to €1000 in value, tax-free, each year. This is usually given through gift cards on goods and services and reduces the tax implications for both parties.

  • Personal circumstance

    A change in your personal circumstances can have implications for how you are taxed. These changes should be communicated to your accountant so they can ensure you are availing of all the tax schemes available to you.

Start Your Own Business Relief

The Start Your Own Business Relief is aimed at entrepreneurs who start their businesses while unemployed.

You may be entitled to this relief if you started your own business between October 25th 2013, and December 31st 2018, and were unemployed for at least 12 months before you started your business.

It allows you to claim Income Tax relief of up to €40,000 a year for a maximum of 2 years. You can only claim it once, and you must make the claim within four years of the year your claim relates to.

StartUp Relief For Entrepreneurs (SURE)

The StartUp Relief For Entrepreneurs (SURE) scheme is a tax refund scheme that allows investors of companies to claim back up to 41% of their investment in a Startup through a refund of Income Tax you have paid in previous years.

To avail of this scheme, the investor must make a qualifying investment in a qualifying company, and specific criteria must be met.

To learn more about whether you can qualify for SURE and how to apply, check out our guide to the SURE scheme or talk to our Client Services team today. We are happy to advise you on the best services for your needs.

Corporation Tax Relief

Corporation Tax Relief can help to reduce the amount of Corporation Tax your company will pay during your first 5 years of trading. 

You may be entitled to this tax relief if: 

  • Your corporation tax due is less than €40,000 per year 
  • The amount of Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) you pay is less than €5,000 per employee and €40,000 for all employees in 12 months 
  • Note: If your Corporation Tax is between €40,000 and €60,000 per year or you pay more than the PRSI limit, you may still be entitled to partial relief. We recommend that you talk to your accountant for specific advice about your situation. 

Companies can apply for this relief on your Form CT1 tax return, or you can outsource your annual accounting requirements to our team of Chartered and Certified Accountants. Reach out to us today to discuss outsourcing your company’s tax obligations.

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Entrepreneur Relief

If you have been a business owner for at least three years and have business assets you plan on selling for greater than the amount you paid, you may be entitled to claim Entrepreneur Relief.

This relief reduces the amount of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) you pay on any gains made when you dispose of an asset.

The standard rate of CGT is 33%, but Entrepreneur Relief reduces this rate to only 10%.

You must follow certain conditions, and the correct paperwork must be filed to Revenue to claim this relief.

Contributing to your pension to reduce income tax liability

Pension contributions are eligible for tax relief as the government offers generous tax breaks to encourage pension saving for company directors. Your retirement strategy can ensure the extraction of maximum cash from the company when retiring.

It is measured at the same rate as your income tax rate. In other words, if you are paying income tax at a higher rate (40%), you will get 40% tax relief on your pension. Likewise, if you are taxed at a lower rate (20%), you would get tax relief at that rate.

The maximum pension contribution one can make is in relation to your age;

Age Contribution
under 30 years 15% of earnings
30-39 years 20% of earnings
40-49 years 25% of earnings
50-54 years 30% of earnings
55-59 years 35% of earnings
60 years plus 40% of earnings

Business and pre-trading expenses

Sole Traders and Limited Companies can claim tax-deductible business expenses to reduce the amount of tax they are liable to pay at the end of the year and reduce the overall tax amount. 

You can also claim back expenses incurred in the three years before you started trading. These are pre-trading expenses and can include accounting and company formation fees. 

Examples of expenses you can claim:

  • Accounting and company formation fees
  • Insurance costs
  • Wages for employees and directors
  • Protective clothing
  • Lease payments and running costs for machinery for the business
  • Business plans
  • Feasibility studies
  • Rent for business premises

Am I using all my tax credits and tax reliefs?

Keep your accountant up-to-date on your personal circumstances so they can adjust your tax credits and reliefs accordingly. Your accountant can help reduce your tax liability by indicating your eligible schemes. This is a list of popular ways to reduce your tax bill, but it is not an exhaustive list. Everyone’s tax and business expenditures are different.

If you are unsure what tax schemes you are entitled to, we’re happy to help. Talk to a Client Services team member to learn more about our services.

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