127. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost to the Exchequer of a proposal (details supplied) over a full calendar year. (Question 20094/18 asked on 08 May 2018)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): The Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP) is available to employees of companies that are incorporated and tax resident in a country with which Ireland has a double taxation agreement or a Tax Information Exchange Agreement. SMEs are not currently excluded from availing of SARP, as long as they meet this condition.

I am advised by Revenue that it is not possible to provide an estimated cost for extending SARP as outlined as the likely additional uptake of the scheme in such circumstances is not known nor are the rates of pay of the employees who might avail of the extended scheme.

With regard to new hires, under existing legislation the employee must have worked for that employer for a minimum of 6 months outside of Ireland immediately before being assigned to work in Ireland. (This condition is, in part, intended to avoid the possible disadvantaging of Irish-resident job candidates over non-resident job candidates.)

However, as the deputy may be aware, in Budget 2018 I introduced the Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP) with the objective of supporting SMEs in Ireland in competing with larger enterprises to recruit and retain key employees.