Revenue E-Brief

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Revenue E-Brief Issue 36/2007, 12th July 2007

The tax treatment of Contracts for Difference

This e-Brief is being issued to clarify the tax treatment of Contracts for Difference.

Contracts for Difference are capital assets to which the CGT rules apply, unless they are held in the course of a financial trade which is chargeable under Case 1, in which instance the charge will be on the accounting profit.

The contracts require two parties to take opposing positions on the future value of a particular asset or index. Investments are often made on a margin of 20% of the contract amount. As well as the difference in value of the asset from beginning to end of the contract period, certain other notional income flows are taken into account in calculating the overall gain or loss.

  • The first of these is notional interest, calculated on the non-margined value of the underlying asset for the contract duration.
  • The second is the notional income which would have been earned by the asset during the contract period.

Where the contract is long (expectation of a rise in price), notional interest is a deduction and notional income a credit in the calculation.

Where the contract is short (expectation of a fall in price), notional interest is a credit and notional income a deduction.

The chargeable gain will be calculated on the gain or loss resulting from the computations above and including a deduction for all necessary broker fees incurred in the full contract.

Actual interest paid, if any, on the margin amount put up will be chargeable under Case 111 in the ordinary way and does not come into the CGT calculation.

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