Corporation Tax Advisors

Share Option Changes – 2024 – Ireland



From 1st January 2024 employers will be required to report, collect and remit Income Tax, USC and PRSI, under the PAYE system, on any gains arising on the exercise, assignment or release of unapproved share options by employees and/or directors.  From 1st January 2024, the tax collection method for share option gains will become a real-time payroll withholding obligation for the employer instead of the individual self-assessment system known as the Relevant Tax on Share Options (RTSO) system.


These new rules are a welcome development for employees and directors who, from 1st January 2024, will no longer be responsible for filing and submitting Income Tax, USC and PRSI arising on the exercise of their share options.


Employees may still, however, be required to file an Income Tax Return for a relevant tax year, if that individual remains a “chargeable person.”


The due date for such returns is 31st March 2024 and there are different returns required depending on the type of share scheme operated / share remuneration provided.


Penalties for failure to file Returns may apply.



The following Forms are required for the following share schemes:


  1. Form RSS1 for share options and any other rights to acquire shares or assets awarded to employees and Directors.


  1. Form KEEP1 – Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP) – Details of qualifying share options granted.


  1. Form ESOT1 – Employee Share Ownership Trust (ESOT) – Details of approved Employee Share Ownership Trust (ESOT) schemes.


  1. Form ESS1 for details of Approved Profit Sharing (APSS) schemes.


  1. Form SRS01 for details of Save As You Earn Schemes (SAYE)


  1. Form ESA – Restricted Stock Units (RSUs), Discounted / Free / Matching Shares, Employee Share Purchase Plans (ESPP), Restricted Shares, Convertible Shares, Forfeitable Shares, Phantom Shares, Stock Appreciation Rights, Growth/Hurdle/Flowering Shares and other Shares.



In circumstances where employers have globally mobile employees working outside Ireland for part of the year, the gains arising on the exercise of the stock option may need to be apportioned based on the number of days those employees worked in Ireland during the grant to vest period.  Employers will need to monitor the Irish workdays for these employees throughout the entire vesting period of the options.  Employers will also need to determine whether the stock option gain is exempt from PRSI.


Consideration must be given as to how the tax liabilities will be funded, especially in situations where there is insufficient income to cover the payroll taxes, where the globally mobile employee is not subject to Irish tax at the date of exercise but a portion of the gain has given rise to an Irish tax liability or where the employee or director has ceased their employment with the organisation. For example, by introducing a “sell to cover” mechanism.



In Summary:


  • The RTSO system will be abolished with effect from 1st January 2024.


  • From 1st January 2024, taxes arising on stock option gains will be collected through the payroll system.


  • Currently there are no proposed changes that affect the obligation to file an annual RSS1 informational return by the employer. Therefore, the reporting obligations for share options by employers remain due on or before 31st March of the following tax year.


  • Share Option gains realised before 31st December 2023 will be liable to tax under the self-assessment system with the employee being responsible for filing a Form RTSO1 along with the relevant tax payment within 30 days of the date of exercise.







Please be aware that the information contained in this article is of a general nature.  It is not intended to address specific circumstances in relation to any individual or entity. All reasonable efforts have been made by Accounts Advice Centre to provide accurate and up-to-date information, however, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate on the date it is received or that it will continue to remain so. This information should not be acted upon without full and comprehensive, specialist professional tax advice.



Research & Development (R&D) Tax Credit – Ireland

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Ireland’s Research and Development tax credit system is a valuable tax based incentive, providing major benefits to both multinational companies and SMEs operating in Ireland.  The R&D tax credit was first introduced in the Finance Act 2004 and has been subject to various amendments in the subsequent Finance Acts.

The credit operates by providing up to 25% of R&D expenditure incurred by a company on qualifying R&D activities (both revenue and capital) in a tax credit or in cash (subject to certain conditions being met). This 25% tax credit can be claimed in addition to the normal 12½% revenue deduction available for the R&D expenditure.  Therefore, the total tax benefit to a limited company is 37½% being the 12½% standard corporation tax rate plus the 25% R&D Tax credit.



How can the Credit be used?

Companies are entitled to a credit of 25% of the incremental R&D expenditure incurred for periods commencing on or after 1st January 2015.

The credit can be used to:

  • Reduce the company’s corporation tax liability of the current period.  Where the credit exceeds the corporation tax liability for the current year, the excess can be carried forward indefinitely to offset against future corporation tax liabilities or
  • Reduce the corporation tax liability of the previous year i.e. the company can make a claim for the excess to be carried back or offset against the preceding period’s corporation tax liability or
  • If unused, the credit can be refunded by the tax authorities subject to certain restrictions.  The only restriction in obtaining a cash refund is that the R&D credit refund cannot exceed the PAYE/PRSI remitted by the company to Revenue in the last two years or the corporation tax liability for the prior ten years if higher.

The claim must be made within one year of the end of the accounting period in which the expenditure has been incurred.



It can alternatively be used as a key employee reward mechanism to remunerate R&D staff effectively, tax free subject to certain conditions.  The effective income tax rate for such key employees may be reduced to a minimum of 23%, provided certain conditions are met by the company and the individual.



CRO – Central Register of Beneficial Ownership – Ireland


On 29th July 2019 the Central Register of Beneficial Ownership was launched in Ireland.  This new legal requirement forms part of Ireland’s implementation of the 4th EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive.



The new Central Register of Beneficial Ownership requires that all companies file details of their Ultimate Beneficial Owners with the Companies Registrations Office.



Under the Regulations, the commencement date for the obligation to file on the Central Register was 22nd June 2019 and companies must deliver their beneficial ownership information to the CRO by 22nd November 2019.



Going forward, newly incorporated companies will have five months from the date of incorporation to register their information.



It is considered a breach of statutory duty not to file within the deadline date.



This is a new filing requirement, in addition to the other usual requirements, for example, filing a B1 annual return.



A beneficial owner is defined an individual/natural person who owns or controls directly or indirectly:

  1. more than 25% of the equity
  2. more than 25% of the voting rights or
  3. has capacity to control the company by other means.




In situations where no beneficial owners can be identified, the names of the directors, senior managers or any other individual who exerts a dominant influence within the company must be entered in the register of beneficial owners.  In other words, where the beneficial owners are unknown, the company must take “all reasonable steps” to ensure the beneficial ownership information is gathered and recorded on the register.




The following information is required to be filed with the RBO in respect of each beneficial owner:

  1. The name,
  2. Date of Birth,
  3. Nationality,
  4. Residential Address,
  5. PPS Number, if applicable – The Registrar will not disclose any PPS Numbers and will only use them for verification purposes.
  6. A Statement of the nature and extent of the ownership interest held or extent of the control exercised,
  7. The date of entry on the register as a beneficial owner,
  8. The date of ceasing to be a beneficial owner.



For non-Irish residents who do not hold a PPS number, a Transaction Number must be requested from the Companies Registration Office.  This is done by completing and submitting a Form BEN2 and having it notarised in the relevant jurisdiction.



Failure to comply with the Regulations is an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a Class A fine, or conviction on indictment to a fine up to €500,000.



Going forward, any changes to a Company’s Internal Beneficial Ownership Register must be updated in the Central Register within fourteen days of the change having occurred.



Once a company has been dissolved the registrar will delete all information held in relation to that entity, after the expiration of ten years.




Who has access to this information?


As required by EU anti-money laundering laws, members of the public will have restricted access to the CRBO including:

  • The name, month/year of birth, country of residence and nationality of each beneficial owner.
  • The nature and extent of the interest held or the nature and extent of the control exercised by the beneficial owner.



The 2019 regulations provide for the following to have unrestricted access to the Central Register:

  • An Garda Síochána
  • The Revenue Commissioners
  • Members of the Financial Intelligence Unit Ireland
  • The Criminal Assets Bureau