Examinations, courses and professional subscriptions

Course or exam fees

You may pay course and exam fees for your employees, or repay them for the fees they have already paid. This is not a taxable benefit if the course or exam is relevant to your business.

A course is relevant to your business if it:

  • allows your employees to gain knowledge necessary for their role
  • helps your employees perform their current or future work duties better.

You may choose to pay for a course for an employee where the course is not relevant to your business. If you do, this is a taxable benefit. Where this happens your employee must pay the following on the cost of the course: 

Repayment of Expenses

You may pay the expenses of your employees or repay them for expenses they incurred in studying for a course. These expenses are not taxable if both the following apply to the course:

  • it is relevant to your business
  • it is necessary for your employees to perform their work duties.

Examination awards

You may pay exam awards to your employees. This payment is generally taxable. Your employee must pay PAYE, PRSI and USC on the value of the award. The only exception to this is if the award is a repayment of expenses.

Special increments

You may give your employees a special pay increment for passing an examination or to recognise another achievement. Any increase in pay is taxable. Your employee must pay PAYE, PRSI and USC on the amount paid.

Professional subscriptions

If you pay a subscription to a professional body for your employees, that payment is generally taxable. However, in limited and restricted circumstances, you may pay professional subscriptions without deduction of tax.

You can pay professional subscriptions for an employee without deduction of tax where there is a legal requirement for your employee to either:

  • be a member of a professional body
  • hold a practising certificate or licence.

You can also pay the subscription without deduction of tax where:

  • the duties of your employee require them to either:
    • be a member of a professional body
    • hold a practising certificate or licence
  • your employee cannot complete their duties without that membership or certificate.