In Ireland, employees often receive benefits beyond their regular salary. These benefits, known as Benefits in Kind (BIK), can range from company cars and health insurance to phone plans and free meals. While these perks can be attractive to employees, they also come with tax implications for both employers and employees.

This blog post aims to be a comprehensive guide on BIK tax in Ireland, covering the essentials for employers and employees alike. We’ll delve into what BIK is, how it’s taxed, common BIK categories, exemptions, and reporting requirements.

What is Benefit in Kind (BIK)?

A Benefit in Kind (BIK) is any non-cash benefit or service provided by an employer to an employee, their spouse/civil partner, family members, dependents, or guests. These benefits have a monetary value and are subject to income tax, Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI), and Universal Social Charge (USC) in the same way as salary.

Here are some key points to remember about BIK:

  • BIK applies to benefits provided in Ireland or abroad.
  • The tax is based on the higher of the cost to the employer or the market value of the benefit.
  • Employers are responsible for deducting income tax, PRSI, and USC from the employee’s salary for the BIK value.
  • Employees with total income (including BIK) exceeding €1,905 in a year are liable for BIK tax.

How is BIK Taxed in Ireland?

The BIK tax amount is calculated by multiplying the higher of the cost to the employer or the market value of the benefit by the employee’s marginal tax rate, PRSI rate, and USC rate.

Here’s the formula:

BIK Tax = (Higher of Cost or Market Value) x (Marginal Tax Rate + PRSI Rate + USC Rate)

For example, if an employee receives a company car with a market value of €20,000 per year and their marginal tax rate is 20%, PRSI rate is 4%, and USC rate is 8%, the BIK tax would be:

BIK Tax = €20,000 x (0.20 + 0.04 + 0.08) = €20,000 x 0.32 = €6,400

Important Note: This is a simplified example. The actual calculation can be more complex depending on the specific benefit and the employee’s tax situation.

Common BIK Categories and Tax Implications

Here’s a breakdown of some common BIK categories and how they are typically taxed in Ireland:

  • Company Cars: BIK for company cars is calculated based on CO2 emissions and original market value (OMV). The lower the CO2 emissions, the lower the BIK charge. There’s a partial exemption for electric vehicles (EVs) made available for private use between 2019-2022.
  • Health Insurance: Employer-provided health insurance premiums are generally exempt from BIK for employees. However, premiums paid for spouse/civil partners or dependents might be subject to BIK.
  • Travel and Subsistence: Expenses for business travel (e.g., flights, hotels, meals) are not considered BIK as long as they are reasonable and incurred for business purposes. Personal travel funded by the employer is a BIK.
  • Phone and Internet: Providing a work phone and internet connection for business use is generally exempt from BIK. However, private use of these benefits might be subject to BIK.
  • Meal Vouchers: Meal vouchers up to a value of €8 per working day are exempt from BIK. Vouchers exceeding this amount are subject to BIK on the excess amount.
  • Gifts and Entertainment: Gifts exceeding €250 in a year and certain types of entertainment are considered BIK.

Remember: This is not an exhaustive list, and specific rules might apply to different types of benefits. It’s always best to consult with a tax professional for accurate guidance on your specific situation.

BIK Exemptions and Reductions

There are some exemptions and reductions available for certain BIK categories. Here are a few examples:

  • Small Benefit Exemption: Employees can receive up to €1,000 worth of vouchers or non-cash benefits per year (up to 2 benefits) without incurring BIK tax.
  • Cycle to Work Scheme: Employees who purchase bicycles or e-bikes for commuting through this scheme can save on income tax and PRSI on the cost.
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