Executives in finance, insurance and technology lead the way in claiming tax break for millionaires
Fifty executives earning between €1m and €3m a year working for multinationals here benefited from a lucrative tax break in 2019 that slashed their income tax bills and allowed them to write off private school fees and some travel, new figures published by the Revenue Commissioners show.
The 50 top earners were among 1,574 executives who escaped a combined €38m of Irish tax thanks to the Special Assignee Relief Programme (Sarp), an incentive introduced nearly a decade ago aiming to make it more attractive for high-flying executives of multinationals to be posted here as part of a plan to help boost job creation and business expansion.
Those benefiting include Irish nationals who had been working abroad for a number of years before taking up roles here.
New figures from Revenue show the tax break cost the Exchequer €38.2m in 2019, with 1,574 people availing of the scheme.
The cost to the Exchequer in 2019 was lower than the €42.4m Sarp cost in 2018, when a smaller number of 1,481 people availed of the scheme.
The 2019 data shows claimants work for 461 different companies.
Of the individuals that availed of the scheme in 2019, 433 worked in the finance and insurance sector. That was the highest figure of any sector.
The next highest was in technology, with 337 Sarp claimants in 2019.
The figures also show that 258 individuals working in the wholesale or retail trade availed of the scheme in 2019.
Sarp provides relief from income tax on 30pc of income over €75,000 for high earners. At one stage there was no upper limit on the amount an individual could earn and claim relief.
However, in 2020 an income cap of €1m was implemented for all individuals availing of the programme. Income over €1m is now subject to standard income tax.
Participants in Sarp must earn a minimum of €75,000 per annum, excluding bonuses. There is no exemption from USC.
School fees of up to €5,000 per annum and expenses incurred on one trip home per year paid for by the employer, are not subject to income tax, USC or PRSI under the programme.
The latest figures published this week show that 457 of the claimants in 2019 were earning less than €150,000 a year.
However, 406 were earning between €150,000 and €225,000; 249 between €225,001 and €300,000; and 125 between €300,001 and €375,000.
Another 228 were earning between €375,001 and €675,000; and 59 between €675,001 and €1m a year.
The Revenue Commissioners said the higher salary ranges of the individuals claiming relief “have been combined to protect taxpayer confidentiality due to the small numbers of cases involved”.
The data shows that 27pc of the people benefiting from the Sarp scheme in 2019 were US nationals, while 14pc were from the UK, 13pc Irish and 8pc Indian.