I propose to take Questions Nos. 71, 72 and 74 to 76, inclusive, together.
The Deputy is seeking information on the estimated annual cost of a number of different policy changes to the Key Employee Engagement Programme. Unfortunately, the position is that base data are not available which enable the information sought to be provided on any kind of reliable basis. However, as regards the specific questions raised, the following paragraphs seek to reply to these as far as possible.
With regard to the Deputy's proposal to remove the restriction to 100% of the employee’s annual emoluments for the Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP) and the Deputy's follow-on proposal to remove the restriction whilst also introducing a flat €250,000 limit over three years, I am advised by Revenue that the cost of the measures proposed would depend on the potential increased uptake of the KEEP. As Revenue have no way to account for a behavioural response by employers and employees, it is not possible to provide a cost estimate for this measure.
Furthermore, as such share options are granted at market value, there is no tax event at the date of grant. Any cost arising (in terms of income tax relief provided) will only be known when and if such share options are exercised. There is no guarantee that all options granted will be exercised.
Regarding the Deputy's proposal to remove the restriction on employer share buy-backs under the KEEP scheme, I am advised by Revenue that there are no specific restrictions on employer share buy-backs contained within the KEEP legislation. Also, there is no indication on the potential scale of share backs effected should any legislative change be introduced. It is therefore not possible to provide a cost estimate in relation to such a proposal.
With regard to the Deputy's proposal to introduce a safe harbour approach to share valuation for early stage companies availing of the KEEP scheme, Revenue advise me that there is no basis on which to cost the measure outlined.
Finally, regarding the Deputy's proposal to enable a worker to retain KEEP options when they move to another company within the company group, I am informed by Revenue that, owing to the uncertainty as to the numbers of KEEP options that will be exercised and the lack of any information on the likely numbers of relevant employees changing employments within groups, there is no basis on which to cost the measure outlined.