The Dropping Unemployment Rate

There was good news this week as the latest monthly employment figures were released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). These numbers showed that the unemployment level in Ireland has fallen to 6%. The number of individuals classified as unemployed dropped by 1800 in October bringing us the lowest figure in 9 years and the first time that unemployment has hit a level equivalent to those before the financial crisis.

In further positive news, these new figures place Ireland in an incredibly favourable position in terms of unemployment in the Eurozone itself. The Eurozone average unemployment level is 8.9%, placing Ireland almost 3% under this average. As stated in the budget announcement, experts expect that this level will continue to fall in the coming months at a steady rate following current trends. It is believed that Ireland could reach what is known as full employment (an unemployment level of 5.5% or less) in 2018.

The employment figures also showed a drop in the youth unemployment level from 14.7 to 14%. Despite these positive moves however, there is always room for concern and businesses will have new concerns to be addressed in the wake of this record low in unemployment.

Mariano Mamertino, economist with Indeed, has stated that there are still major concerns and that the Irish public should not become complacent, likewise jobseekers should not assume that there are jobs aplenty available for them.

“Although the rate of youth unemployment was down to 14 per cent in October, from 16.7 per cent a year ago, young people in Ireland are still almost three times more likely than older people to be unemployed today, with 27,000 people under the age of 25 who want a job not yet finding a role […] nearly half of those who are unemployed are long-term unemployed, and therefore have been looking for a role for at least 12 months. It is unlikely that the sectors facing the most significant skills shortages such as technology, finance and biopharmaceuticals will be hiring from these two cohorts, and are more likely to look overseas for hires who have experience and are ready to hit the ground running.”

As such, although these are of course shifts in the right direction for the Irish economy, it is wise for employers and employees alike to never take figures such as these for granted. If recent years have taught us anything it’s that in the current economic climate, things can shift dramatically in a short period of time.

Should you require any help or guidance on any business or financial matter, please do not hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we are always delighted to welcome clients both old and new.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

CRO – A Costly Omission

We have spoken quite a lot in recent months about the various ways that Revenue will be clamping down on tax fraud issues and late filing. We also touched more recently on the fact that the CRO (Companies Registration Office) would be getting stricter on late filers, particularly companies with a history of late filing. In the past there has been a certain amount of leeway given to companies, and this year there was an allowance of two days given for online filing as a result of disruptions caused to businesses as a result of Hurricane Ophelia.

These changes to the way in which the CRO will manage late filings were placed into immediate effect this month as Judge Brennan presided over more than twenty cases of companies who were either late to file, or neglected to file their Annual Returns and Accounts. Prosecution notices were issued in early October to companies with a consistent history of late or not presented returns.

The CRO utilise a ranking system in order to identify those companies with the most consistent poor filing history. This system totals their fees owed over a period of time and upon another late or neglected annual return, those at the top of the table are selected for prosecution. Should these companies file on time, they are removed from the register altogether.

Fines issued during these proceedings ranged from €500 to €5000, including late fees, which I’m sure we can all agree is a very expensive mistake to make, which is easily rectified by ensuring that your returns and accounts are filed well in advance of the deadline each year.

With the CRO considering their next round of prosecutions, we would hate to see any of our Clients caught in the crosshairs due to an omission such as this.

Should you require any help or guidance on these or any other business and finance matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA, where we are always happy to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Income Tax Deadlines 2017

As the deadline for paper filing has come and gone as of October 31st, the focus now shifts to the online pay and file deadline. This tax season has been an unusual one in many ways. It’s not very often that we find ourselves in a hurricane in Ireland, and even rarer that such a storm could bring with it tidings of good.

Revenue has extended the online pay and file deadline for self employed people as a result of Storm Ophelia and the business time lost as a result of office closures. The previous deadline was November 14th, and has now been shifted to midnight on November 16th to allow people to recoup that lost time.

Revenue has also announced that their help-desks will be open until 8pm each night leading up to this deadline, and will remain open until midnight on the deadline day itself. This is to ensure that any issues are dealt with in a timely manner to avoid late filing.

As always, our advice is to file early and avoid an over-reliance on extended deadlines where possible. Should you have any queries or concerns related to this, please feel free to contact us.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

CRO Getting Tougher On Non-Compliance

We have spoken in the past about the many ways in with Revenue are beginning to clamp down on tax issues in a massive way in recent months. With tax return deadlines having been extended the belief is now that there should be no excuse for late filing so there is set to be a massive tightening on deadline rules from this point on.

Recently the CRO (Companies Registration Office) have announced that they will begin prosecuting companies who have not filed or are late in filing their Annual Returns and Accounts. In previous years there was a certain level of profiling involved with selecting companies or directors for prosecution, the idea being that such severe punishment was not needed for first time offenders. It is thought that the same system will be in place on this occasion, with persistent defaulters being the first to be targeted and dealt with.

Any company summoned in this way is liable to face fines of up to €5000 plus costs. These fines will be in addition to any normal CRO late filing penalties. The CRO are also set to clamp down on companies requesting their own extension on filing in order to avoid prosecution.

This is a much tougher stance than the CRO have taken on these issues in the past. Far from being a campaign of ‘scare tactics’ however, this is a campaign meant to encourage persistent late filers to begin to file on time each year in order to avoid these unnecessary penalties and further heartache.

As always, our own advice remains to get all documentation in order throughout the year and ensure that your returns are filed on time, even avoiding utilising the extensions if possible so that you will be certain that everything is in order. It is critical to keep well organised files on everything throughout the year to avoid a last minute scramble before the deadline.

As always we are available for any advice or guidance you may require on business or finance matters.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

No Budging the Budget – Budget 2018 Overview

The Budget is a contentious subject each years and a word which tends to eclipse all others in the weeks following its announcement. This comes as no surprise, as a country which has suffered enormous economic downturn in the recent past for there to be an enormous focus on an event such as the Budget which often gives a general idea of how heavy or light we can expect our wallets to feel in the coming year.

 

Budget 2018 was announced this week by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe. There were a great many predictions made in the week before the announcement but now that we have the facts to hand we will be breaking down the main points of the Budget and what it will mean for you and your business.

 

Positively, Ireland’s economic growth continues to rise, and Minister Donohoe has stated that he expects this to continue into 2018. This is welcome news for those who may not be seeing the economic recovery in their own pockets as yet, as there is a tentative promise that they may begin to do so in the coming months. Similarly, it was noted that unemployment figures are expected to continue to fall from the current 6.1% to 5.7% in 2018.

 

Here are the main points to note from Budget 2018:

 

Income Tax:

  • The entry point for the higher tax rate of 40% will rise from €33,800 to €34,550.
  • The 5% USC rate will drop by 0.25%, whilst the 2.5% rate is set to drop by 0.5%.

 

Property:

  • Stamp Duty on non-residential property being raised from 2% to 6%.
  • The Government are allotting €1.8million towards housing for 2018.
  • Mortgage Interest Relief for loans from 2004-2012 to be slowly phased out by 2020. Reducing to 70% in 2018, 50 in 2019 and 25 until the end of 2020.
  • The help to buy scheme is to be retained.

 

Business:

  • There will be a Brexit loan scheme of up to €300million made available to SMEs to assist with short term needs.
  • No changes to VAT rates for tourism and services sectors.
  • Social Welfare
  • All payments to be increased by €5 at the end of March 2018.
  • Social Welfare Christmas bonus to be paid at 85% of the usual rate. This is a €20 increase on last year.

 

Personal:

  • No changes to cost of petrol and diesel.
  • Cost of 20 cigarettes to rise by 50cent.
  • Sugar tax to be applied to sweetened drinks containing 8g of sugar per 100ml.

 

Health:

  • Prescription charges to be reduced for all under 70s with medical card by 50cent per item.
  • Threshold for Drugs Payment Scheme to fall from €144 to €134.
  • Home Carer tax credit to be increased to €1200 per year.

 

As always we are available for any advice or guidance you may require on business or finance matters.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Driving You Crazy

In recent years, increasing motor insurance premiums have been widely blamed for the lower numbers of new drivers taking to the roads. As insurance prices have risen over the past couple of years, so too have the rules and regulations for obtaining a driving license in Ireland, seemingly deterring many new drivers from taking that first step. Insurance prices have continually risen by a substantial amount for the past couple of years without any additional benefits being added to premiums. In some cases, insurance premiums were seen to rise by as much as 70% on average, effectively stalling some prospective drivers in their tracks whilst also running some existing drivers off the road as their bank balances began to suffer with these increased monthly or weekly premiums.

Earlier this year, things on the motor insurance front seemed to have reached breaking point as prices continued to rise. It was suggested that prices would be set to begin to come down slowly over the course of the year following on from the resolution of the Setanta Insurance Collapse, which caused many insurers to up costs in order to make financial provisions for future collapses. Once this uncertainty was lifted, it was hoped that motorists would soon begin to feel the difference in their premiums and their pockets.

There was good news on the horizon this month, however with the news that Motor Insurance premiums were indeed beginning to show a downward trend. New figures from the CSO (Central Statistics Office) show that there has been a reduction of 14% on average in premiums from this time last year. This may seem like a minute figure but it is certainly a step in the right direction for motorists as it is the biggest drop since the insurance crisis began.

Insurance experts have been quick to warn that many will still be paying the elevated premiums and that it may take some time for renewal quotes to begin truly showing a difference for customers, but this return to profitability for motor insurance companies is another step in the walk towards financial recovery for Ireland.

If you find you aren’t seeing these reductions in your own premium, we would suggest taking the time before your renewal is due to shop around different insurers. Utilise recommendations from family and friends and collect online quotes to compare as often what we are told is a loyalty discount can in fact often be greatly reduced by utilising the online quote systems.

As always we are available for any advice or guidance you may require on business or finance matters.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

 

When a Squeeze Becomes a Pinch

The term ‘middle-class squeeze’ refers to the situation wherein increases in wage do not equate with inflation rates for middle income earners and the cost of living continues to increase. This leads to a perceived decline in actual wages which seems to primarily affect this middle level income earners. The ‘squeezed middle’ is something that we hear in general and political conversation quite a lot in Ireland these days as the issue continues to heat up alongside the ever increasing housing prices (both rental and purchase) and the increases in the cost of living.

In recent days, Junior Finance Minister Michael D’Arcy has taken note of these ongoing conversations and complaints and stated that this ‘squeezed middle’ are in dire need of some manner of assistance, going as far as to suggest that a third ‘middle’ rate of tax is now being considered. D’Arcy was quoted as saying:

“People accept at this stage the people in the working middle need to get something back. So what we now have to do is to help people who are in that mid-range. Both the Taoiseach and the finance minister are extremely eager to do something there. There is a train of thought that there should be a third middle rate of tax between the two rates at a lower space. We have to reduce the burden of income tax on those people.”

This will be welcome news to anyone currently floundering in the squeezed middle. The Junior Minister went on to outline that that this new tax level will rest somewhere in between the top and lower standard rates, stating that the entry point to the higher rate which is currently €33,800 is “damaging” to job creation as workers earning less than the average industrial wage (€45,075) can still be paying the top level of tax, which is an anomaly that seems to only be faced here.

Junior Minister D’Arcy also damned the culture of “welfare dependency” which has sprung up in Ireland as a result of these issues, with tax levels and the cost of living leaving many to believe that they will earn more on welfare than working when the cost of travel etc. is factored in and suggested that the strategy from this point will be to make sure that work done is paid for appropriately, and to possibly introduce this new tax bracket to allow mid-level earners to take home enough pay to live more comfortably.

As always we are available for any advice or guidance you may require on business or finance matters.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Bad Investment Makes no Cents.

We have spoken at length in the past about various forms of funding and investment in business and the importance of the availability of funding for all businesses in particular small and medium enterprises who may rely on outside funding. Something which is rarely touched upon is the importance of choosing the right investor for your business, and one which can go the distance alongside your company. Failure to choose a sustainable investor can cause serious problems for both your business and the investor.

This issue is especially important this week as it was revealed that many Irish investment firms have been found to have failed to meet the required standard of investors by the Central Bank of Ireland. The bank recently conducted a review of suitability requirements for investment firms and found many companies to be sorely lacking, which is not encouraging news for business owners wishing to secure funding. Michael Hodson, Director of Asset Management has been quoted as saying of the findings:

“The review highlighted that firms need to improve the quality of information collected and how this information is utilised in the suitability process. With the introduction of higher suitability standards, the quality of the information collected is all the more significant.  Boards are reminded that they are responsible for implementing an appropriate governance framework that meets the suitability regulatory requirements and embeds a client-centric culture across the firm.  Investor protection is at the core of the Central Bank’s mandate.” 

The review found that many firms were unable to demonstrate that the required suitability policies and procedures were implicated whilst also pointing out that many application forms were incomplete. Some firms were also found to be reliant on self-assessment alone and had little to no tools in place for assessing suitability for investment, relying heavily on technology. In perhaps the most worrying finding, many companies were found to have nothing in place for dealing with potentially vulnerable clients and companies.

Thankfully, the Central Bank assure companies that in any areas that the findings may be damaging to consumers formal supervisory requirements have been implemented which should reduce risk greatly for prospective clients.

As always we are available for any advice or guidance you may require on business or finance matters.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together?

It would be almost impossible to have escaped hearing the word ‘Brexit’ (meaning Britain’s impending exit from the European Union) in recent months as the disbelief at the result of the vote gave way to dismay and concern over what this event could mean for our own shores. There have been many concerns regarding Irish workers working in the UK and commuting home at the weekend and vice versa as well as worries about the possibility of there being more stringent borders in place which could very negatively impact Irish trade.

Recently, it has been reported that these concerns may well be directly addressed before the planned exit. It has been suggested that British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to publish a policy paper on Anglo-Irish relations to suggest that the two countries adopt what is known as a ‘Schengen Area’. This would mean that there would be a unique border between the UK and Ireland allowing for ease of movement and trade, effectively creating their own union. This could be welcome news to many Irish workers in the United Kingdom. The move would allow citizens of both countries to freely work in the other, whilst citizens from other countries in the European Union may require work permits to work in the UK following Brexit. Our own Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has however stated in the past that he does not want to create any form of border, so it remains to be seen how this will be implemented.

It has also been stated that Britain are on track for a ‘hard Brexit’ meaning that there will be no softening of rules or lingering methods of inclusion once they depart and will be seen by the European Union as being a third party outside of EU law and customs. The drawback to this supposed ‘hard Brexit’ is that it does not allow for safeguards to be put in place for businesses reliant on trade with Britain, so the proposed policy could be welcome news to some Irish businesses.

It has been reported that British officials are now eager to get the ball rolling on Brexit negotiations in order to cement plans for the future relationship between the UK and EU member states. Brexit Minister David Davis has stated recently that;

“We need to get on with negotiating the bigger issues around our future partnership to ensure we get a deal that delivers a strong UK and EU.”

It is hoped that whether by this new policy, or through the overall negotiations that an agreement can be put in place that does not isolate Irish businesses or workers.

As always we are available for any advice or guidance you may require on business or finance matters.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

I’ll Have What She’s Having

The supposed ‘Sunday Fear’ is something which has inspired countless jokes, memes and GIFs in recent years. As social media has become more of an inherent part of every day in much the same way as our morning dose of caffeine, the way in which we communicate our levels of stress, discomfort and job dissatisfaction in general has changed. Rather than being something we might bring up in general lunch time conversation, we have taken to posting memes about the dreaded Sunday Blues and what level of Monday we are currently at, while tagging friends and family members who may feel similarly. On the surface, these may seem like mere funny photos and videos and a coincidence as the thousands of shares rack up, recent findings suggest that not only is the ‘Sunday Fear’ a real phenomenon, but that employees are actively doing something about it.

According to data released recently by popular jobs search website Indeed, the current most popular time for a job search in Ireland is 1pm on a Monday, and this time seems to be similar across Europe, signifying that the dissatisfaction people feel going from Sunday into another week is something that is being dealt with at the earliest possible availability. Researchers for Indeed analysed the search patterns of jobseekers across five European countries to reveal this Monday trend.

Ireland                                     1pm Monday

United Kingdom                     1pm Monday

Germany                                 12pm Monday

France                                     11am Monday

Belgium                                   11am Monday

Whilst, France and Belgium might be the early birds, this is an interesting trend for Irish jobseekers, and the data is compiled from all searches whether they be via phone or desktop. The research also found that searches are not limited to these times by any means, with many also searching during weeknight evenings.

According to Mariano Mamertino, EMEA economist with Indeed:

“The power of the internet has transformed the way all of us look for a job. With just a few keystrokes or taps on our mobile device, we can view millions of vacancies whenever and wherever we want. […]”This reveals perhaps the emotional side of looking for a new job. Just as the start of January is a very popular time for people to consider a job change, so too the start of the working week.”

So our mobile devices aren’t just useful for scrolling through those Sunday and Monday memes, but can actually have an immense transformative effect on how we advertise for and gain employment, and social media is certainly an excellent tool to be harnessed in business.

As always we are available for any advice or guidance you may require on business or finance matters.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY