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REPUBLIC OF IRELAND



DOING BUSINESS IN IRELAND
HOLDING COMPANY REGIME

 

HEADQUARTER – HOLDING COMPANY REGIME
Ireland has a capital gains tax exemption on disposal of large shareholdings and a favourable foreign tax credit regime which allows groups to establish group or regional headquarters or holding companies in Ireland on a tax efficient basis.

When combined with the ability to extract profits from Irish companies without withholding taxes in most cases, Ireland is an attractive location for international groups looking to establish headquarter or holding companies.

Capital gains on the disposal of substantial shareholdings are exempt from tax on capital gains in Ireland. The exemption applies where the shareholding is in what is primarily a trading company, or where the disposal is by a holding company of what is primarily a trading group or sub-group. The exemption applies only where there is a shareholding of at least 5% in the investee company. The shares being disposed of must be in a company resident in the EU or in a state with which Ireland has a double tax agreement. Ireland has an extensive double tax network.

Ireland has on-shore pooling of tax credits, with a single dividend basket for dividends from both treaty and non-treaty states. Total excess tax credits in any year can be carried forward to the following year. Creditable tax includes both withholding taxes and underlying taxes at federal, state and municipal levels. Ireland's tax rate on foreign dividends is 25%. Given the new arrangements on tax credits, it will be feasible with appropriate planning to avoid tax on the repatriation of profits to Ireland.


IRELAND DOUBLE TAX TREATIES
Ireland has comprehensive double taxation agreements in force with 45 countries. The agreements generally cover income tax, corporation tax and capital gains tax (direct taxes).

New agreements with Greece and Iceland, which were signed in 2003, became effective for tax periods in 2005. Under the Icelandic treaty, the rate of taxation of dividends is limited to 5% or 15% of the amount of the gross dividend (depending on the taxpayer's ownership interest in the paying company). The taxation of royalties is limited to 10% in the case of royalties from copyrights of literary, artistic and scientific works, but royalties of a technical nature, such as from patents, are generally exempted. Payments of interest are also exempted from taxation in the source country. Both new agreements include exchange of information provisions.

An agreement replacing the existing treaty with Canada was also signed in 2003. Parliamentary procedures to bring the treaty into force were completed by Ireland in December 2004 and by Canada in April 2005. This treaty became effective for tax periods in 2006.

New treaties with Argentina, Egypt, Kuwait, Malta, Morocco, Singapore, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine are being negotiated.

Existing treaties with Cyprus, France and Italy are in the process of re-negotiation.

Almost all of Ireland's treaties provide for nil withholding tax on interest paid to a treaty partner; exceptions are Belgium, Canada and Japan, with the Israel and Poland treaties applying withholding tax to certain types of interest only. Royalty payments by Irish companies are also generally exempt from withholding, with the exceptions being Israel, Poland, Spain and Canada.

Although Ireland has a double tax treaty with the UK, the latter's Treasury announced in 2002 that it was proposing to classify Ireland as a 'tax haven', and would in future apply its 30% corporation tax rate to the profits of Irish subsidiaries of UK companies.

The Irish Department of Finance later announced that UK companies with subsidiaries based in the Republic were considering launching a legal challenge to the change, which had been brought on by the reduction of Ireland's corporation tax rate to an eventual 12.5%. The situation remains unclear.

LIST OF TREATIES SIGNED BY REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

A
Australia
Austria

B
Belgium
Bulgaria

C
Canada
Chile (Signed on 2 June 2005 -not yet in
effect)
China
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic

D
Denmark

E
Estonia

F
Finland
France

G
Germany
Greece

H
Hungary

I
Iceland
India
Israel
Italy

J
Japan

K
Korea

L
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg

M
Malaysia
Mexico

N
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway

P
Pakistan
Poland
Portugal

R
Romania
Russia

S
Slovak Republic
Slovenia
South Africa
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland

U
United Kingdom
United States

Z
Zambia

RENEGOTIATIONS

Cyprus - Some discussions took place in 1999, but there have been no developments since that date.

France - First round discussions in connection with the re-negotiation took place in March 2001, further negotiations took place in April 2005.

Italy - A first round of negotiations took place in May 2005. A second round is expected to take place in 2007.

Korea - This treaty is currently under renegotiation.

Portugal - A protocol amending the existing Convention with Portugal was signed in 2005. The ratification procedures were completed in 2006 so the Protocol is effective from 1 January 2007.

NEW TREATIES

Chile - A new agreement with Chile was signed on 2 June 2005. The convention has not yet been ratified.

Malta - Negotiations are complete. It is expected that the treaty will be signed and ratified in the near future.

Egypt - Negotiations are completed. It is expected that this treaty will be signed and ratified in the near future.

Singapore - Negotiations have taken place, but some matters remain to be agreed.

Morocco - Second round negotiations took place in August 2005. Further negotiations are expected.

Moldova - Negotiations are expected to be completed in 2007.

Thailand - A first round of negotiations took place in March 2007.

Kuwait - First round negotiations took place in October 2004.

Turkey - A second round of negotiations took place with Turkey in October 2000. Some further discussions took place during Summer 2002.

Ukraine - A second round of negotiations took place in November 2001. Revenue have indicated that a third round will be required.

Argentina - First round discussions took place in October 2002. There have been no further developments since that date.

Tunisia - First round negotiations took place in May 2004.

Others - The Revenue still wish to negotiate some treaties with other South American countries, particularly Brazil. Countries in the Middle East and Far East are also being considered.

1. Initial contact, with a view to treaty negotiations, has been made with Argentina and Nigeria while opening stages of negotiations have taken place with Kuwait, Morocco, Singapore, Tunisia, Turkey and the Ukraine. The treaties with Egypt and Malta are at a stage where the parties are completing them.

2. Re-negotiations are in process with Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, France, Italy and Sweden. The UK has indicated their desire to renegotiate a new treaty.

3. The treaty with Chile has been signed and is expected to come into force from 1 January 2006.

DOUBLE TAXATION AGREEMENTS
WITHHOLDING TAXES ON PAYMENTS TO IRELAN
D

Country

Effective Date

Interest

Participation dividend*

Portfolio Dividend

Australia

1984

10%

0/15%

0/15%

Austria

1964

0%

0%

10%

Belgium

1973

15%

0%

15%

Bulgaria

2002

5%

5%

10%

Canada

1968

15%

0/15%

15%

China

2001

10%

5%

10%

Croatia

2004

0%

5%

10%

Cyprus

1962

0%

0%

0%

Czech Republic

1997

0%

5%

15%

Denmark

1994

0%

0%

15%

Estonia

1999

0/10%

5%

15%

Finland

1990

0%

0%

15%

France

1966

0%

0%

10/15%

Germany

1959

0%

0/5%

15%

Greece

2005

5%

5%

15%

Hungary

1997

0%

5%

15%

Iceland

2005

0%

5%

15%

India

2002

10%

10%

10%

Israel

1996

10%

10%

0%

Italy

1967

10%

0%

15%

Japan

1974

10%

10%

15%

Korea

1992

0%

10%

15%

Latvia

1999

10%

5%

15%

Lithuania

1999

10%

5%

15%

Luxembourg

1968

0%

0/5%

15%

Malaysia

2000

10%

10%

10%

Mexico

1999

0/5/10%

5%

10%

Netherlands

1970

0%

0%

15%

New Zealand

1989

10%

15%

15%

Norway

2002

0%

5%

15%

Pakistan

1974

0%

0%

0%

Poland

1996

0/10%

0%

15%

Portugal

1995

0/15%

15%

15%

Romania

2001

3%

3%

3%

Russia

1996

0%

10%

10%

Slovak Republic

2000

0%

0%

10%

Slovenia

2003

5%

5%

15%

South Africa

1998

0%

0%

0%

Spain

1995

0%

0%

15%

Sweden

1989

0%

0/5%

15%

Switzerland

1980

0%

10%

15%

United Kingdom

1999

0%

0%

15%

USA

1998

0%

5%

15%

Zambia

1973

0%

0%

0%

* 25% shareholding required in most cases.


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