Ireland

Individual - Deductions

Last reviewed - 21 February 2021

Employment expenses

Expenses that may be deducted from taxable income are those that are incurred wholly, exclusively, and necessarily in the performance of the duties of employment. Expenses incurred travelling to and from work and entertainment expenses are not deductible.

Pension contributions

Contributions to Revenue-approved occupational pension schemes are allowable deductions for employees. PRSI and USC apply to employee pension contributions. No deduction is available in calculating employer PRSI contributions in respect of pension contributions made by employees.

The annual earnings limit that (along with age-related percentage limits) determines the maximum tax-relievable contributions for pension purposes is EUR 115,000. Where the rules of an Irish Revenue approved pension scheme permit a portion of the pension to be taken as a lump sum, any lump sum in excess of EUR 200,000 will be subject to tax.

Tax relief may be claimed on contributions from remuneration subject to the earnings limit of EUR 115,000. The allowable personal contributions are expressed as a percentage of remuneration and are age related as follows:

Age attained during tax year Maximum relief (%)
Less than 30 15
30 but less than 40 20
40 but less than 50 25
50 but less than 55 30
55 but less than 60 35
60 and over 40

The lifetime limit for tax-relieved pension funds for an individual is EUR 2 million, effective 1 January 2014. The tax-free pension lump sum has been capped since 2011 at EUR 200,000.

Personal deductions

Relief for interest on loans for rental investments, trading companies, and partnerships

The principal non-business expenses that may be deducted are interest on loans for investments in rental properties, certain private trading companies, and partnerships subject to certain conditions. 

Health expenses

Certain health expenses in relation to nursing home fees can be claimed as a deduction from taxable income at the marginal rate of tax (i.e. currently 40%). Other qualifying health expenses may qualify for tax relief at 20%.

Employment and Investment Incentive (EII), Start-Up Relief for Entrepreneurs (SURE), and Start-Up Capital Incentive (SCI) 

The EII is a tax relief incentive scheme that provides tax relief for investment in certain corporate trades. The scheme allows an individual investor to obtain income tax relief on investments up to a maximum of EUR 250,000 per annum in each tax year up to 2021. The Finance Act 2019 introduced a higher investment limit of EUR 500,000 for those who invest for a minimum period of seven years. The minimum investment in any one company is EUR 250. Individuals interested in EII can invest directly through a private placement or through a Designated Investment Fund. With effect from 8 October 2019, relief is available within the year of assessment in which the investment is made by the individual into the designated fund.

The SURE, formerly known as the Seed Capital Scheme, is a slightly more generous version of the EII that targets individuals who leave PAYE employment to set up their own companies. The SURE investor may have been a top rate taxpayer when employed, so the scheme is designed to allow him/her to elect to shelter income earned during any of the previous six years in order to maximise the tax rebate. The maximum investment that can qualify under SURE is EUR 700,000 (EUR 100,000 per annum for the previous six tax years and EUR 100,000 in the current year).

The SCI was introduced for 2019 to 2021 and targets very early stage micro companies. The SCI seeks to relax particular conditions for early stage micro companies that could otherwise prevent founders from raising qualifying starter capital for the company from close relatives. A micro enterprise is a company with less than 10 employees and either turnover and/or balance sheet totals less than EUR 2 million. There is a lifetime cap of EUR 500,000 on the investments made.

Standard deductions

Please see Personal exemptions below and the Other tax credits and incentives section.

Personal allowances

A tax allowance is available if an individual employs a person to take care of an incapacitated relative. The individual employing the carer is entitled to a tax allowance of the actual cost of employing the carer up to a maximum of EUR 75,000. The allowance may be claimed at the marginal tax rate.

A personal allowance for premiums paid to an Irish Revenue approved permanent health insurance (PHI) scheme is available. The allowance may be claimed at the marginal tax rate. Tax relief is capped at 10% of total income for that year.

Business deductions

Expenses that may be deducted from taxable income are those that are incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade/business.

Contributions to personal pension plans (retirement annuity contracts) are allowable as a deduction for self-employed individuals.

Losses

A trading/business loss can be offset against the gross amount of other income for that year.

Unused trading/business losses may be carried forward to the following year and used against that years trading/business profits arising from the same trade/business. Certain conditions apply.

In respect of capital losses, these are set off against chargeable gains arising in the same year. Unused losses may be carried forward indefinitely. Gains on development land may only be offset against losses on development land. Inflation relief may not operate to convert a monetary gain into an allowable loss or to increase a monetary loss.

Restriction of certain tax reliefs for high earners

Certain tax breaks available to high income earners are restricted (e.g. various property based tax incentives, film investment relief). With effect from 1 January 2010, a tapering restriction applies to individuals with income in excess of EUR 125,000 (before claiming the specified tax reliefs), with the full restriction applying to individuals with adjusted income in excess of EUR 400,000. The restriction may apply where the individual’s specified reliefs for the year exceed EUR 80,000. Where the maximum restriction applies, it results in an effective rate of Irish income tax of approximately 30%. Any relief not obtained in a particular tax year is carried forward. In the case of married couples, each spouse is treated separately when calculating this relief.