Understanding Entrepreneur Relief in Ireland – How does it work?

Entrepreneur Relief is a big tax incentive in Ireland. It’s designed to encourage investment in business ventures. It does this by reducing the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rate on qualifying business assets. Here’s a comprehensive guide to understanding how it works, who qualifies, and how to claim it.

What Is Entrepreneur Relief in Ireland?

Entrepreneur Relief allows business owners to pay a reduced CGT rate of 10%. This is on gains from the sale of qualifying business assets. The standard CGT rate is 33%. Entrepreneurs’ relief applies to a lifetime limit of €1 million in gains. It provides big tax savings to eligible entrepreneurs to reward the risk involved in setting up a business and the hard work required for a successful exit from the business.

How Do You Qualify for Entrepreneur Relief?

To qualify for Entrepreneur Relief in Ireland, you must meet several conditions:

  1. Ownership Period: You must have owned the qualifying business assets for at least three years. The three years must be within the five years before the asset is disposed of.
  2. Business Type: The assets must be used for a qualifying business. This excludes activities like holding investments, developing land, or letting of land.
  3. Shareholding: If the business is operated through a company, you need to own at least 5% of the ordinary shares in the company. Also, you must have been a director or employee of the company. You must have spent over 50% of your work time in a managerial or technical role. This must have been for three years within the five years before disposal.

Entrepreneur Relief vs. Retirement Relief

While both Entrepreneur Relief and Retirement Relief offer substantial tax benefits for business owners in Ireland, they cater to different needs,  circumstances and have different eligibility criteria. Entrepreneur Relief is designed for active business owners looking to reinvest or cash in on their business ventures by offering a reduced Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rate of 10% on qualifying business assets.  As mentioned the lifetime limit is €1 million, this may involve the sale of several business ventures.  

Whereas, Retirement Relief is geared towards  entrepreneurs aged 55 and over who are planning to retire, allowing them to dispose of their business assets with substantial tax exemptions, depending on the sale value and the owner’s age. Understanding the nuances between these two reliefs can help business owners plan their exit strategies more effectively, ensuring they maximize the available tax benefits. For more information on Retirement Relief and to better understand the differences between the two, check our recent Guide to Retirement Relief in Ireland.

What Are Qualifying Business Assets?

Qualifying business assets determined by Revenue are critical in determining eligibility for Entrepreneur Relief in Ireland. These assets must meet specific criteria to benefit from the reduced Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rate. Below is an expanded explanation of what constitutes qualifying business assets:

1. Shares Held by an Individual in a Trading Company

To be eligible for Entrepreneur Relief, shares must be held in a trading company. A trading company is defined as a company carrying out trading activities as opposed to holding investments or other non-trading activities. The individual must own at least 5% of the ordinary shares in the company, and these shares must be held for a continuous period of at least three years within the five years before disposal​​.

2. Assets Used by a Sole Trader or Partner in Their Trade

For sole traders or partners, the assets must be actively used in the trade. These can include business premises, machinery, or other tangible assets directly involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. The requirement is that these assets are held and used in the business for a minimum of three years immediately preceding the sale​.

3. Shares in a Holding Company with Qualifying Subsidiaries

A more complex scenario involves shares in a holding company. The conditions here are:

  • Ownership Structure: The holding company must own at least 51% of the shares in its subsidiaries. These subsidiaries must be engaged in qualifying trades, meaning they must be actively involved in trading activities rather than holding investments or developing land.
  • Active Participation: The individual must also actively participate in the business, either as a director or employee, and spend more than 50% of their working time in a managerial or technical capacity for a continuous period of three years within the five years before disposal.
  • Qualifying Group: The holding company must exist primarily to own shares in its trading subsidiaries, ensuring that all group companies are engaged in qualifying business activities​.

Examples of Qualifying Business Assets

Example 1: Shares in a Trading Company

Sarah owns 10% of the ordinary shares in XYZ Ltd, a trading company, for four years before deciding to sell her shares. Since XYZ Ltd is a trading company, and Sarah has held the shares for more than three years, these shares qualify for Entrepreneur Relief.

Example 2: Sole Trader’s Business Assets

John, a sole trader running a bakery, owns the business premises and baking equipment for five years. When he decides to sell his business, these assets qualify for Entrepreneur Relief because they have been used in his trade continuously for over three years.

Example 3: Shares in a Holding Company

Emily owns 60% of the shares in ABC Holdings, which holds shares in three subsidiaries. Each subsidiary is actively involved in trading activities. Emily has been a director and worked full-time in the group for four years. When she sells her shares in ABC Holdings, they qualify for Entrepreneur Relief as the holding company and its subsidiaries meet the qualifying criteria.

Non-Qualifying Business Assets

Certain assets do not qualify for Entrepreneur Relief, such as:

  • Shares or securities held as investments.
  • Development land.
  • Assets not actively used in the trade.
  • Personal assets not associated with the company’s business activities​.

What Are the Conditions for Entrepreneur Relief in Ireland?

The primary conditions for Entrepreneur Relief are:

  • Continuous Ownership: Ownership of the assets for at least three consecutive years within the five years before the sale.
  • Active Participation: For company-operated businesses, the person must be a director or employee. They must have a managerial or technical role for the required time.
  • Asset Use: The assets must be used in the business. They must be used throughout the ownership period​.

How to Claim Entrepreneur Relief on Your Tax Return?

To claim Entrepreneur Relief, you need to declare it in your annual tax return. Do this for the year in which you dispose of the qualifying assets. Here’s an expanded guide on how to proceed:

1. Determine Your Taxpayer Status

The forms you need to complete depend on whether you are a PAYE taxpayer or self-employed:

  • PAYE Taxpayers: Use the CG1 form. This form is used for Capital Gains Tax (CGT) returns and is suitable for employees who dispose of qualifying business assets.
  • Self-Employed Individuals: Use the Form 11. This form is the comprehensive tax return form for self-employed individuals, which includes sections for declaring capital gains​.

2. Declaring the Disposal in Your Annual Tax Return

You need to declare the disposal of qualifying assets in your annual tax return for the year in which the disposal occurs. The relevant details must include the sale price, the cost of acquisition, and any allowable expenses related to the sale.

  • Initial CGT Period: If the disposal occurs between 1st January and 30th November, the CGT payment is due on or before the 15th December of the same tax year.
  • Later CGT Period: For disposals between 1st December and 31st December, the CGT payment is due by 31st January of the following tax year​.

Common Questions About Entrepreneur Relief

Can You Claim Both Retirement Relief and Entrepreneur Relief? 

Yes, you can claim both. However, restrictions apply if you claim both on the same asset. Consulting a tax advisor can help navigate these complexities​.

How Many Times Can I Claim Entrepreneur Relief?

You can claim Entrepreneur Relief multiple times. But, the total gains must not exceed €1 million. Each qualifying disposal contributes to this lifetime limit.

What Happens if the Business Is Held Within a Group? 

All subsidiaries must be qualifying businesses. They are for businesses within a group. The individual must meet the shareholding and active participation criteria in the group.


Entrepreneur Relief in Ireland offers big tax benefits. It’s for business owners who want to sell their assets. Entrepreneurs can cut their taxes by meeting the conditions and claiming relief. Understanding the 2024 Budget Highlights and knowing which tax credits you can claim can significantly impact your financial planning and tax liability.

Navigating your tax returns doesn’t have to be complicated! Resources like our guides on How to File Your Tax Returns and Relevant Tax on Share Options (RTSO) are designed to support you through every step of the process.

For personalised advice and assistance with your tax returns, complete our short form now to receive a quote and find out how our team can help you with your Inheritance tax return this year.

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