Retirement, Succession and Selling – What Irish Businesses Need To Know

Retirement, Succession and Selling – What Irish Businesses Need To Know

Whether you’re planning for family succession or your own retirement, it’s key to get the facts right now instead of leaving it until it’s too late.

Having the correct business structure in place is crucial for planning and running your business, as it affects:

  • legal protection
  • tax implications
  • funding opportunities
  • scalability
  • operational efficiency
  • and succession planning. 

It’s important to consult with legal and tax professionals to understand the specific advantages and disadvantages of each structure and choose the one that best aligns with your business goals and needs. A business can be operated in many ways such as a Sole Trade, Private Limited Company or through a Partnership. 

Planning for the future is essential. Choosing an appropriate business structure helps facilitate succession planning and the transfer of ownership. Some structures, like corporations, can provide mechanisms for seamless ownership transitions, ensuring business continuity in case of retirement, disability, or the desire to sell the business.

Regular sucession reviews solve problems before they start.

Avoid overpayment of Capital Gains Tax (CGT). Reviewing your business and legal structure regularly will insure you are operating your business under the most beneficial structure.

It is important to have that in place before succession is considered. It also means the current owners can ensure that they meet the conditions to avail of Retirement relief or Entrepreneur relief.

Retirement Relief

Retirement Relief is a tax relief available to individuals who sell or transfer their business or farm on or after their 55th birthday, provided certain conditions are met.
The relief allows for a reduction or complete exemption from Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the disposal of qualifying assets. The potential savings under Retirement Relief can be significant, as it effectively reduces the tax liability on the gains from the sale or transfer.

Entrepreneur Relief

Entrepreneur Relief is a tax relief designed to encourage entrepreneurs to invest in and develop new businesses. It provides for a reduced rate of CGT on the disposal of qualifying business assets, subject to meeting specific criteria.

The rate of CGT applicable under Entrepreneur Relief is 10%, compared to the standard CGT rate of 33%. However, please note that tax rates and relief conditions can change, and it is crucial to refer to the most up-to-date information from the Irish Revenue or seek professional advice.

Having the correct legal structure in place ahead of any succession/growth will mitigate the tax implications. 

What should business owners consider today?

When considering succession planning for the future, here’s some tips to take on board.

  1. Define succession criteria and competencies: what are the skills, knowledge, and competencies required?
  2. Identify and develop potential successors: help them develop though training, mentoring, and opportunities to gain experience and exposure to different aspects of the business. Encourage a learning culture where people are motivated to acquire new skills, stay updated on trends and new technologies
  3. Succession beyond the top role: Succession is often focused on top level – make sure you have considered all the critical roles at different levels and ensure there are suitable candidates prepared.
  4. Develop a knowledge transfer plan: create a plan to transfer knowledge and expertise from experienced staff to the company and potential successors.
  5. Evaluate and refine: Regularly assess the effectiveness of the succession planning process and make adjustments as needed. Solicit feedback from stakeholders and learn from both successes and challenges to continuously improve the approach.
  6. Regularly review and update: Succession planning should be an ongoing process, not a one-time event.
  7. Communicate the plan effectively. This last one is paramount.

The succession plan should detail what role and responsibility each new/current manager or key employee will have once the business is passed over, and it’s vital this information is clearly communicated well in advance.

If they have not communicated their plan to family members and key stakeholders in advance, it may cause conflicts that might be left too late to rectify. As a result both the current business owner and business itself may suffer.

The person/persons earmarked to take over the business might not have the required skill sets – or want to do so. That could leave you and the business in a tough situation as you might be against the clock to avail of retirement relief. It is vital that advise and pre-planning is done before succession.

Succession planning is an ongoing process that requires foresight, adaptability, and a commitment to developing and nurturing talent. Plan well in advance with the family and, most importantly, with your accountant and solicitor. Be aware of all the legalities, conditions and reliefs that are in place.

A professional succession review provides an objective assessment of your business. It determines its value, identifies suitable successors, ensures business continuity, aids in strategic planning, addresses legal and tax considerations, and gives you peace of mind.

It is an essential step in successful succession planning, helping you navigate the complex process with confidence and clarity. If you’d like to know more, get in touch with us – we’d be happy to talk about your circumstances and your plans for the future.

See also: 9 Key Steps for Successful Succession Planning