Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT)-What You Ought to Know

capital acquisitions tax ireland

Are you happy to pay tax to the Revenue Commissioners?

I thought not 🙂

This piece looks at capital acquisitions tax (CAT) and the main reliefs available to reduce the inheritance (or gift) tax payable.

Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) is a tax on gifts and inheritances and comprises two taxes: gift tax and inheritance tax.

The calculation of the tax payable is based on

  • The value of the benefit
  • The relationship between donor and donee
  • Any prior benefits received by the donee.

Taxable Value of Property

The taxable value of the property is calculated as follows:

Market value less liabilities, costs and expenses less any consideration paid is the taxable value.

Once the taxable value is ascertained, the tax payable will be determined by the relationship between the disponer (donor/testator/intestate) and the beneficiary (done/successor).

There are 3 groups of relationship for CAT purposes; with their CAT thresholds are as follows:

Group Relationship to Disponer Group Threshold from 6/12/2012
A Son/Daughter €310,000
B Parent*/Brother/Sister/
Niece/Nephew/Grandchild
€32,500
C Relationship other than Group A or B €16,250

*In certain circumstances a parent taking an inheritance from a child can qualify for Group A threshold.

Note: these are the thresholds from 12th October, 2016.

Group A includes where the beneficiary is a child, minor child of a deceased child or where a parent inherits from a child.

Group B is where the beneficiary is a lineal ancestor (parent, grandparent, great grandparent etc.) , lineal descendant other than a child or minor child of a deceased child (grandchildren, great grandchildren etc.), brother or sister or child of a brother or sister.

Group C is anyone else.

Rate of Tax

The current rate of tax is:

Benefits taken on or after 6 December 2012

Threshold amount                    Nil

Balance                                          33%

Pay and File

The Finance Act 2012 amended the Pay and File date for CAT from 30 September to 31 October. Therefore all gifts and inheritances with a valuation date in the 12 month period ending on the previous 31 August will be included in the return to be filed by 31 October 2012.

This means where the valuation date arises between 1 January 2012 and 31 August 2012, the Pay & File deadline is 31 October 2012. Where the valuation date arises between 1 September 2012 and 31 December 2012, the Pay & File deadline would be 31 October 2013.

Valuation of Private Company Shares

Section 27 of the Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003 sets out how shares in private trading companies are to be valued.

CAT Reliefs and Exemptions

There is a wide range of reliefs and exemptions from CAT.

These include a small gift exemption, spousal relief (no CAT on gifts/inheritances between spouses), dwelling house exemption, favourite grandchild relief, surviving spouse relief, etc.

Agricultural Relief

Agricultural relief, if applicable, can provide relief of up to 90% on gifts or inheritance so agricultural land and property.

The beneficiary must be a farmer as defined by the Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003 which is not the normal definition of a farmer. A farmer for CAT purposes is not necessarily an individual who has worked as a farmer; it is a financial test.

So, for CAT purposes a farmer is an individual whose assets comprise 80% agricultural property and the property to which the “farmer” is entitled is included in this calculation. It is possible to become a “farmer” on the valuation date by disposing of some non-agricultural assets.

Business Relief

Business relief is aimed at a working business and the transfer of that business to beneficiaries who will continue to run that business.

The relief will amount to a reduction of 90% in respect of the value attributable to relevant business property taken by the beneficiary.

Certain types of business are excluded:

  • businesses dealing in currencies, securities, stocks or shares, land or buildings, or
  • making or holding investments.

The relief applies to the business of a sole trader or a partnership and where the business is run by a limited company the shares of that company.

Only relevant business property will qualify for the relief. “Relevant business property” is defined as:

“the business or an interest in the business in the case of a business carried on by a sole trader or by a partnership. “Business” is defined as one which is carried on for gain and it includes the exercise of a profession or location as well as a trade.”

Individual assets of a business, if transferred without the business, will not qualify.

To qualify for business relief, the disponer must have been the owner for

  • 2 years prior to the death of the disponer on an inheritance
  • 5  years prior to the granting of a gift.

Business relief can be clawed back

  • If there is a change of use ie the property ceases to be relevant business property and
  • If the relevant business property is sold or compulsorily acquired.

Favourite Nephews/Nieces

If the nephew or niece worked full time with the disponer on the farm or in the business for a period of 5 years prior to the death then he/she may be entitled to the same tax free threshold as a son/daughter.

Dwelling House Exemption

If a house is left to a beneficiary who has occupied the house for 3 years prior to the death of the disposer, and continues to occupy it for 6 years after the death, then he/she may be exempt from tax.

Minor Child of a Deceased Child

Property left to the minor child of a deceased child will see that child having the same tax free threshold as a child of the deceased.

Surviving Spouse/Civil Partner Relief

A spouse or civil partner will be entitled to the same relief that a deceased family member would have been entitled to.

Charitable Bequests

Charitable bequests may be exempt from taxation.

The above reliefs are the main ones available in Ireland. However, changes can occur with new Finance Acts so always obtain professional advice if any of these reliefs are important to you.

Please take legal and/or taxation advice before taking any decisions in this area as there are significant taxation consequences for the donor and done/beneficiary.

See also the Revenue Commissioners’ website-CAT section.