Budget 2024 amounts to a total spend of €14bn. But what does it mean for your business?
It’s a mixed bag, with some one-off payments and tax decreases, but also other increasing charges.
This article outlines the main provisions.
Here’s what it covers:
- Increased Cost of Business Scheme
- VAT reduction on supply of gas and electricity extended
- VAT zero rate on certain products
- Flat-rate compensation percentage for farmers
- Public consultation on a move to e-invoicing
- Increase of upper age limit of Retirement Relief
- Increase in cap for Section 481 Film Tax Credit
- Working groups for further reform
- Increase in VAT registration threshold
- Increase in threshold for Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP) shares
- More generous provisions for Research and Development tax credit
- Temporary tax relief for landlords
- Reduced Capital Gains Tax (CGT) for angel investors
- Increase in relief for Employment Investment Incentive Scheme (EIIS)
- Future Ireland Fund and the Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund
- Banking levy increase
Increased Cost of Business Scheme
€250m will be available to help small businesses cope with rising costs.
The Increased Cost of Business Scheme will offer one-off grants to up to 130,000 small and medium-sized businesses. The payments will come in the form of tiered grants, equivalent to up to 50% of the commercial rates paid by companies this year.
Businesses will need to be paying €20,000 or less in commercial rates to qualify for the scheme, with most falling into this category.
The payments will be made in early 2024, with the application process promising to be much simpler than the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme, which received criticism for its complexity.
VAT reduction on supply of gas and electricity extended
The temporary reduction on the rate of VAT on the supply of gas and electricity from 13.5% to 9% has been extended. It was announced that this will be for another 12 months, to 31 October 2024.
VAT zero rate on certain products
From January 2024, a 0% rate of VAT will apply for the supply and installation of solar panels on schools. Audiobooks and e-books will also have a 0% rate of VAT.
Flat-rate compensation percentage for farmers
Farmers are going to see a reduction of the flat-rate addition from 5% to 4.8%, which will apply from January 2024.
This measure compensates those farmers who aren’t VAT registered for VAT that’s incurred on their purchases.
Public consultation on a move to e-invoicing
In 2024, the European Union (EU) is due to introduce mandatory electronic invoicing, or e-invoicing, for VAT reporting.
The specifics for how it works in different countries may vary but in essence, businesses will have to submit their VAT-related data in an electronic format that’s standardised.
During his Budget 2024 speech, Minister for Finance Michael McGrath said: “I would like to announce that the Revenue Commissioners will shortly launch a public consultation on how we can use digital advances to modernise Ireland’s VAT Invoicing and Reporting System.”
So it appears the consultation will cover e-invoicing, although more details are likely to be revealed soon, including timelines, so businesses can prepare.
Increase of upper age limit of Retirement Relief
Retirement Relief is a form of relief from Capital Gains Tax that arises on the disposal of certain business assets and shares in certain businesses.
In particular, it’s aimed at supporting the intergenerational transfer of businesses and farms.
Where the individual making the disposal is 66 years or more and the market value of the qualifying assets is more than €3m, the relief is limited to €3m.
The upper age limit for the relief has been extended from 65 to 70. In addition, the reduced relief, which was previously available on disposals from the age of 66 up now applies from the age of 70.
The changes will come into effect from 1 January 2025.
Increase in cap for Section 481 Film Tax Credit
Section 481 tax relief allows films, television dramas, animations and creative documentaries that are produced in Ireland up to 35% tax credit.
The tax credit has proved to be very successful over the years.
There’s to be an increase in the current project cap on qualifying expenditure for the tax credit from €70m to €125m.
Working groups for further reform
A Tax Administration Liaison Committee is to be formed to focus on simplifying and modernising the administration of business supports.
Also, following the completion of a cost benefit analysis of the Revised Entrepreneur Relief, there will be a look at refocusing the relief to improve incentives for founders and entrepreneurs.
Minimum wage increase
From January 2024. the minimum wage will rise by €1.40 to €12.70, an increase of 12%.
This follows several recent minimum wage increases and other recent new business costs, such as statutory sick pay and enhanced parental leave.
Another cost coming down the line is the planned pension auto-enrolment.
These extra expenses may be more difficult for smaller companies to account for, with larger companies more likely to be able to absorb the increased overheads, but it’s important to have them on your radar.
Changes in take-home pay
Employees will see their take-home pay increase.
The changes are:
- The Universal Social Charge (USC) to be cut from 4.5% to 4%, the first reduction in USC rates in five years
- The entry threshold to the 4% rate of USC will be raised from €22,920 to €25,760
- The point at which employees pay the top rate of tax will rise by €2,000 to €42,000
- Personal, employee PAYE and earned income tax credits are to be increased by €100 each from January 2024
- Pay Related Social Insurance for employees and employers will increase by 0.1% from 1 October 2024.
Company car benefit-in-kind (BIK) relief extended
The temporary universal relief of €10,000 to the Original Market Value announced earlier in 2023 has been extended for a further year and in effect reduces the amount of BIK payable.
There is also a temporary suspension in the tapering of the preferential BIK relief on electric cars for 2024 and 2025.
Additional measures to be aware of
Increase in VAT registration threshold
There is to be an increase in the VAT registration thresholds from €37,500 to €40,000 for services and from €75,000 to €80,000 for goods.
It will mean that from January 2024, fewer businesses will be required to register for VAT, which means less admin to deal with.
Increase in threshold for Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP) shares
KEEP is a tax share option scheme that allows employees to acquire shares at a future date and at a fixed price, under specific conditions, without paying tax.
The lifetime company limit for KEEP shares is to be raised from €3m to €6m per company.
The amendments will aid the retention of key talent, with the scheme also being extended until the end of 2025, as announced in 2022.
More generous provisions for Research and Development tax credit
The Research and Development (R&D) tax credit provides a tax credit for all qualifying R&D expenditure.
From January 2024, this will increase from 25% to 30%, while the year one payment threshold will rise from €25,000 to €50,000.
In particular, this is designed to maintain the net value of the existing credit for those multinational companies subject to the new increased 15% corporation tax rate, announced in April 2023, which comes into effect in January 2024.
In addition, the amount reimbursed in the first year will double from €25,000 to €50,000.
This will provide increased cash flow support to companies engaged in smaller R&D projects.
Both benefits are expected to be relevant for claims made in 2025, in respect of 2024 R&D expenditure.
Temporary tax relief for landlords
Landlords will receive a temporary tax relief, which is targeted at private landlords, who make up most of the market.
€3,000 of rental income will be taxed at the lower standards rate in 2024 (a saving of €600), with this increasing to €4,000 in 2025 (a saving of €800) and €5,000 in 2026 and 2027 (a saving of €1,000).
The properties must remain in the rental market for the full four years or else the tax will be clawed back.
Reduced Capital Gains Tax (CGT) for angel investors
From January 2024, angel investors will quality for a reduced rate of CGT.
This will be set at 16% for individuals and 18% for partnership, with the reduced CGT rate permissible for gains up to twice the value of the investment.
One of the key conditions of this relief is that the investment must be held for a period of three years.
Increase in relief for Employment Investment Incentive Scheme (EIIS)
The EIIS is a tax relief that aims to encourage individuals to provide equity-based finance to businesses. It’s to be enhanced through the standardisation of the investment period to four years for all investment.
In addition, the amount an investor can claim relief on for four-year investments is to be doubled to €500,000.
This should lead to more equity investment in early stage businesses, which are typically most in need of funding.
Future Ireland Fund and the Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund
Two new funds are to be set up to future proof the economy and ensure that capital investment continues, even during a downturn.
These are the Future Ireland Fund and the Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund.
- The Future Ireland Fund will have 0.8% of GDP paid annually to the fund from 2024 to 2035 (approximately €4.3bn in 2024). The fund is estimated to reach around €100bn by 2035. It will be used to meet the costs of ageing, climate, digitalisation and other economic challenges.
- The Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund will grow by €2bn a year from 2024 to 2030, to reach €14bn in 2030. The fund will allow for continued investment in infrastructure in the event of economic downturns. It will also support climate and nature-related projects (€3bn).
Both funds will be managed by the National Treasury Management Agency.
Banking levy increase
Public finances are looking to gain from banks’ boosted profits, due to increased interest rates. The banking levy is to rise to €200m in 2024, up from around €87m in 2023.
Final thoughts on Budget 2024
The budget has a mix of one-off payments, longer term expenditure commitments and tax changes, as well as some safeguards to protect public finances.
While the Small Firms Association welcomes some measures, it felt it didn’t go far enough in addressing rising business costs.
However, reaction was more positive from stakeholders in terms of Ireland encouraging further foreign investment.
This comes at a crucial time. With the introduction of the 15% corporate tax rate under Pillar Two for certain companies due to come into effect in 2024, the revised R&D tax credit should go some way to maintaining Ireland’s appeal as an attractive proposition for foreign investment.
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