Section 34 of the Finance Act 2011 provides for the extension of the 3-year tax relief for start-up companies to those companies which commence a trade in 2011. It also modifies the existing relief so that the value of the relief will be linked to the amount of employers’ PRSI paid by a company in an accounting period, subject to a maximum of €5,000 per employee and an overall limit of €40,000. This has changed the attractiveness of this system as most start up’s will not expend enough employers PRSI to avail of a significant exemption.
Credit is also given for any employers’ PRSI exempted under the Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive Scheme in respect of a company’s employees in determining the amount of corporation tax relief available to the company. The purpose of these changes is to better target the relief at start-up companies generating employment.
The Finance Act changes mean that where the total corporation tax payable by a qualifying start-up company for an accounting period does not exceed €40,000, the aggregate amount of corporation tax referable to income and gains of the qualifying trade in that period will be reduced to nil or, if greater, to that aggregate as reduced by the amount of qualifying Employers’ PRSI. Where the total corporation tax payable exceeds €40,000 but does not exceed €60,000, the aggregate amount of corporation tax referable to income and gains of the qualifying trade will be reduced to an amount as calculated in accordance with the existing marginal relief formula or, if greater, to that aggregate as reduced by the amount of qualifying Employers’ PRSI. For accounting periods of less than 12 months, the various limits are proportionately reduced. Some examples of how the modified relief is computed are given below.
To ensure that the scheme is focussed appropriately on new business activities, the section contains a provision which excludes from relief a trade set up by a new company, the activities of which, if carried on a by an associated company of the new company, would form part of an existing trade carried on by that associated company.
The changes introduced in Finance Act 2011 apply to all qualifying companies for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2011. However, companies which set up and commenced a qualifying trade in 2009 or in 2010 will be able to obtain relief on the previous (i.e. pre-Finance Act 2011) basis for profits earned in accounting periods commencing before 2011.