What is SARP?

The Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP) was introduced in 2012 and was designed to make Ireland a more tax attractive place to work for internationally mobile workers and lower the cost to employers of assigning skilled workers to their Irish operations. SARP provides income tax relief (not USC or PRSI relief) for certain qualifying individuals assigned to work for their employer (or associated company) in Ireland.

When introduced the uptake was low as it was seen to be overly complex to operate and restrictive in its application.

Report on SARP

Revenue released a report in May 2015 outlining the uptake and cost of SARP for 2012 and 2013. Figures for 2014 are not yet available. The following are some of the report’s findings:

  • 11 employees availed of SARP in 2012 and 121 employees availed of it in 2013.
  • 70% of employees availing of SARP in 2013 were employed in the IT, financial services or pharma/medical sectors.
  • The increase in employment levels in Ireland as a result of the introduction of the relief has been minimal.
  • The tax cost of SARP in 2012 was €127,000 whereas the tax cost in 2013 was €1,895,000.
  • Of the employees who availed of SARP in 2013, 29% earned between €75,000 and €150,000, 30% earned between €150,001 and €225,000, 23% earned between €225,001 and €300,000, 10% earned between €300,001 and €375,000 and 8% earned in excess of €375,000.

 Finance Act 2014 amendments

The Finance Act 2014 enhanced the relief by reducing the period that an employee must work with the employer prior to arrival in Ireland from 12 months to 6 months. In addition, an employee no longer needs to be tax resident in Ireland alone (and not anywhere else) to qualify for the relief. These amendments are in effect since 1 January 2015 and it is hoped they will make the regime more attractive to internationally mobile workers and facilitate the creation of jobs and the development of businesses in Ireland.

How can an employee qualify for SARP?

Employees must:

  • Arrive in Ireland in any tax year from 2015 to 2017
  • Work for a minimum of 6 months for their employer immediately before arriving in Ireland
  • Perform duties of their employment for a minimum of 12 months in Ireland
  • Earn a minimum of €75,000
  • Be tax resident in Ireland in the year the relief is claimed
  • Not be tax resident in Ireland in the 5 years prior to arrival

In addition the employer must certify (within 30 days of the employee’s arrival) that certain conditions to qualify for SARP are met.