The European Commission has approved an Irish scheme to reduce the taxation of employee share options for SMEs. The scheme, approved under EU State aid rules, will allow small and medium-sized companies to recruit and retain employees without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.
Under the Irish support scheme, employees of small and medium-size companies (SMEs) will be relieved from paying income tax and social contributions when exercising their share options. The aim of the tax relief is to help SMEs attract and retain their employees by making their share options more attractive. The scheme will run for a period of six years.
SMEs in Ireland often do not have enough financial resources to offer competitive remuneration packages, making it difficult for them to attract and retain talented and skilled personnel. This hinders their productivity and prevents them from achieving their full growth potential. Thanks to the proposed Irish measure, SMEs could use share option agreements to offer a more competitive remuneration package to their employees. Provided on top of a fixed wage, these employee share options could enhance the ability of SMEs to attract and retain staff without the need to find immediate additional financial resources.
The Commission believes that the public intervention is needed to facilitate Irish SMEs’ efforts to attract and retain employees, allowing these companies to contribute further to economic growth and innovation. This is also in line with the Commission policy to promote a more entrepreneurial culture and create supportive environment for SMEs.
The Commission assessed the measure under Article 107(3)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which allows State aid to facilitate the development of certain economic activities or areas. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the measure is in line with EU State aid rules.
Pictured above: The Berlaymont building in Brussels, which houses the headquarters of the European Commission