Key Employee Engagement Programme (‘KEEP)

Section 11 of the Finance Bill reflects the headline amendments, which were announced on Budget day, with no further unexpected legislative changes. The amendments to be enacted will impact of the definition of a “qualifying share option” which is subject to the relief, easing the monetary restrictions placed on the market value of share options to the following: 

  • Increase on the annual market value of the shares options awarded to an employee which is capped at either 100% of their salary (previously 50%) or €100,000. 
    • The three-year limit has been extended to a lifetime limit, and 
    • the amount of the shares options that can be granted under the scheme has been increased from €250,000 to €300,000

Whilst the amendments are generally welcomed, there is the overwhelming sense that further legislative amendments could have been introduced to improve the effectiveness and uptake of the relief, in particular regarding the definition of a “qualifying company” (to extend beyond the current restrictions linked to Irish trading activities) and the definition of a “holding company” (to align same with that under Capital Gains Tax Entrepreneur Relief).

The amendment will become effective subject to Ministerial Order once the relevant notifications have been made at an EU level.

Return to Budget 2019 Analysis.