There are different type of taxes depending upon the type of savings vehicle used. Deposit Interest Rate Tax or DIRT is imposed on the interest paid on deposit accounts. Exit Tax is levied on profits made on pooled funds such as investment bonds and UCITS.
Up until 2016 the rate of both taxes tended to be the same.
In 2008, the government raised the rate from 20% to 41%, equivalent to the highest rate of income tax. At that time, longer term deposit accounts were paying close to 5% pa as troubled banks sought to attract deposits in order to shore up their broken balance sheets. The increased tax was an irritant but savers were still receiving a net rate of 2.95% after tax. The reason for the sudden large increase was that the government was broke and needed to collect every possible euro in tax to maintain services.
Since then, we have seen an improvement in the economy; in the condition of the banks and the interest rate scenario has changed for the worse. Short term deposit interest rates are now close to zero and 5-year rates are paying 1% pa. Savers in deposit products had suffered a double whammy.
In Budget 2017, the DIRT reduced from 40% to 39% and further decreases of 2% pa to 33% by 2020 are promised. The rate of exit tax on life office investment bonds / UCITS remains at 41% for the moment.
In response to requests for a level playing field from the Investment industry, the Minister for Finance’s response was interesting. The DIRT cut, he said, was to encourage savings and boost returns to small savers. He estimated the cost of DIRT reduction to be c. €36 million by 2020. A corresponding reduction in Exit Tax would be too costly at €56 million for same period.
Investment products are providing a decent return and the Minister’s conclusion was that savers and investors in life office bonds and UCITS are getting far superior returns and do not need to have their tax reduced yet.