By Patrick Duffy
I am 64 years old and disabled. My sources of income are Social Security and a U.S. government pension. I would like to go live in Ireland. My questions are as follows:
(a) Would I be liable for capital gains tax in Ireland?
(b) How much money can I take with me to Ireland?
(c) Can I buy property in Ireland?
(d) As a disabled person, am I entitled to any property tax rebates?
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(e) Would the Irish government allow me stay?
(f) What is the cost of living like in Ireland?
(g) Would it be better for me to leave my investments in the U.S. or to relocate them to Ireland or Europe?
– B.S., Denver
Well, you have a handful there. I will keep the answers as short as possible.
(a) Once you become resident in Ireland, you would be liable for capital gains tax on any asset you sell. The capital gains tax rate in Ireland is currently at 20 percent, down from 40 percent in prior years.
(b) There is no limit on how much money you can take into Ireland. Like all countries, Ireland would be delighted to see you bring money in. However, depending on the amount you want to bring out of the U.S. you could have some reporting requirements to keep with Uncle Sam. The U.S. Supreme Court recently gave a ruling on this issue; it might be of interest to you.
(c) Yes, you can certainly buy property in Ireland. However, from a practical point of view, you might have some difficulty in getting a mortgage because of your age.
(d) In Ireland, residential property tax is levied on houses over a certain amount. However, your income must also be over a certain level. From other details you provided to me, you will not have anything to worry about in this regard.
However, there may be other entitlements you can claim because you are disabled, e.g. you may not have any vehicle-registration tax to pay when and if you purchase a car. The Department of Social Welfare (011 353 1 87484440) in Dublin can provide you with more details regarding possible benefits.
(e) If you wish to live in Ireland, you will need to produce documentary evidence that you can support yourself. The necessary papers indicating a transfer of residence can be obtained by calling the Irish Consulate in New York at (212) 319-2555.
(f) Ireland is not an inexpensive country to live in. As in most cases, there would be tradeoffs. Gas is more expensive in Ireland, but most people have no property tax to pay. You might find out if your government pension has a cost-of-living provision in it. It would be nice if it did. One note of caution, Medicare will not cover you for expenses incurred in Ireland.
(g) A difficult question to answer without more details. For example, if you have an IRA, the money cannot be invested outside the U.S. A common-sense way of looking at investments is to have them in the country where you live since you will not have to deal with currency risk. However, if you are thinking of relocating investments, it ought to be done in a methodical way in order to minimize potential risks.
Patrick J. Duffy MS, CFP is a certified financial planner practicing in New York City. He specializes in business and personal financial planning with the overall aim of enhancing an individual’s or family’s quality of life. His office is at 767 Lexington Ave, New York, N.Y. 10021 and he can be reached by telephone at (212) 755-7736.
If you have a question related to business or personal finance, mail or fax it to the Business Section, Irish Echo, 309 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10016; (212) 686-1756. The Echo cannot guarantee it will publish every question it receives.