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Irish Real Estate Funds

Finance Act 2016 changes affecting the Irish tax treatment of Irish real estate funds

Finance Act 2016 introduced a new tax regime for certain Irish regulated funds that invest, or intend to invest, in Irish real estate and related assets. The changes do not affect Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS), non-Irish funds, or funds that have an international investment focus, including funds holding non-Irish real estate. As a result the vast majority of Irish regulated funds continue to be exempt from Irish tax on their income and gains with no Irish tax on payments to non-Irish resident and exempt Irish resident investors, subject to certain conditions being satisfied.

The amendments define an Irish Real Estate Fund (“IREF”) as a fund or sub-fund which:

  • Derives 25% or more of its market value from assets deriving their value directly or indirectly from Irish land and similar assets (e.g. shares/loans);
  • Is dealing in or developing land;
  • Carries on a property rental business or;
  • Has as its main purpose, or one of its main purposes, the carrying on of an Irish property business.
    With some exclusions, unit holders in an IREF may be subject to 20% withholding tax on defined “IREF taxable events” including distributions and redemption payments deriving from:
  • Property related income (effectively rental profits, trading profits and interest arising on certain loans secured on Irish property);
  • Realised gains on investment properties held for less than 5 years;
  • All realised and unrealised gains on investment properties held by a personal portfolio IREF (“PP IREF”) i.e. an IREF whose assets or business can be influenced directly or indirectly by an investor, a connected person of an investor or a person acting on their behalf.
    An IREF taxable event may also arise where an investor:
  • disposes of units of an IREF (other than on a redemption, cancellation or repurchase by the IREF) for consideration of at least €500,000;
  • sells or transfers, for consideration of at least €500,000, the right to receive accrued profits/gains of the IREF that have arisen on Irish property assets, without the sale/transfer of the related IREF units.
    In such circumstances, the 20% withholding obligation falls on the party by or through whom the payment is made; that party is also obliged to remit the tax withheld to Irish Revenue within 30 days and provide certain details relating to the transaction.

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