Friday 19 January 2018

Male friends' wedding to avoid tax bill 'will not be investigated by Revenue'

Pensioner (85) will marry his carer to avoid inheritance demand

Matt says he will marry his male carer to avoid him being made liable for inheritance tax after he dies.
Matt says he will marry his male carer to avoid him being made liable for inheritance tax after he dies.
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Revenue will not investigate the case of two straight men marrying each other to avail of a tax exemption when they eventually tie the knot in Tipperary next month.

The decision comes after an 85-year-old man, Matt, says he will marry his male carer to avoid him being made liable for inheritance tax after he dies.

Gardai are also unlikely to investigate the marriage after the event because they believe it would be hard to classify it as a criminal matter.

Matt plans to leave his home to Michael O'Sullivan, a 58-year-old friend who has been caring for him in recent years. Matt has a number of health issues and he requires help at home.

The men have been friends for 30 years. Neither of them is gay but they thought marriage was "not a bad idea" so they could sidestep a substantial tax bill in the event of Matt's death.

Gardai are unlikely to check on the validity of such a marriage because the Garda tends to investigate false marriages in circumstances where immigration is an issue, not taxation.

"If there is a suggestion of a crime being committed, obviously we will investigate it but we are not going to investigate how legitimate a marriage is unless there is evidence of it being not real," said a source.

"It is probably more of a matter for Revenue than it is for An Garda Siochana."

However, Revenue said this is not a matter it can investigate.

In a statement to the Sunday Independent yesterday, Revenue said married couples are exempt from Capital Acquisitions Tax. However, it cannot investigate how legitimate a marriage is.

"The validity of marriages is not a matter for Revenue," said a spokeswoman.

"The Capital Acquisitions Tax legislation does provide for a spousal exemption from Capital Acquisitions Tax on transfers between spouses."

This duty is charged on gifts and inheritances that are over certain values at a rate of 33pc.

There are different thresholds and these vary depending on your relationship to the person who makes the gift.

Matt said without the pair getting married, Mr O'Sullivan would be left with a substantial tax bill by inheriting their home in Stoneybatter in Dublin.

"I am marrying him because he will be part of my life when I die and whatever I have, ie, my home, there will be no problems, he can have it," Matt told RTE's Liveline last Friday.

"It's a way to avoid tax," he added. "If he is to look after me in my old age, and this will be my 85th Christmas, I thought it was a very good thing that came into my head to say, nowadays, this is official."

Matt said he has never been married but that Mr O'Sullivan has three children from a previous marriage.

"They are grown up now and he is officially divorced," Matt said. "With the house, this is the easiest way. Once we are married, I'm his spouse then and if one partner dies, the house automatically goes to the other partner."

Sunday Independent

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