Taking the Fear out of Arrears

Following on from the economic crisis and the subsequent increase in the cost of living and decrease in available work, many thousands of Irish people have been left in mortgage arrears which is a very stressful and uncertain position to be in. As the country begins to regain its financial footing there are of course increases in finance options, but up until this point many Irish householders may have found it quite difficult to avail of advice on these matters during what is of course a difficult financial time.

Recently, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar announced an awareness campaign to promote Abhaile, a free mortgage arrears support service which many of those struggling were unaware of.

This news follows a survey which found that many struggling with mortgage arrears are too embarrassed to tell their family and friends about their ongoing issues. This in itself is incredibly problematic as the weight of these issues alone can cause isolation, depression and other mental health difficulties. As such, it is essential that all homeowners who find themselves in arrears should have someone to speak to. That is the service that Abhaile hope to provide. Tánaiste Fitzgerald has stated that despite falling numbers, there are still approximately 34,500 people in this country in long-term arrears. These are the people they hope to reach with this new campaign as it also emerged that over two thirds of people did not know that there were any services available to them to discuss these issues. Minister Varadkar was quoted as saying:

“It’s our firm hope we’ll bring forward thousands more people who are now in need of similar help. The key message is to come forward and seek the help that you need. Don’t be afraid, help is available at no cost and we’re on your side.”

Whilst the fact that the number of repossession cases has halved in recent years is indeed positive news, it is also essential that those still struggling be aware of all of the assistance at their disposal to ensure that these rates continue to fall in the coming years so that we can see a significant reduction in people feeling alone in these issues. It was also revealed that those in long-term arrears are those least likely to seek advice or assistance as they may feel that their situation is hopeless.

Angela Black of the Citizens Information Board has said:

“What we’re doing is asking members of the public to go out there and take a look around at their family and friends and people who might look ok on the surface but who are struggling behind closed doors with mortgage arrears. They might not realise they have access to this free expert financial and legal advice. Family and friends can play a vital role in encouraging people to look for help”

The Abhaile service has assisted 4,500 people since it became fully operational last October.

The Abhaile scheme is administered by the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).

Its helpline, which is open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm is 0761072000.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Offshore Disclosure Notification

It can often be difficult to remain abreast of changes to procedures in the financial sector if your business is not operating within this sector. Unfortunately it is essential to be aware of any changes which may affect your business operations.

The Finance Bill 2016 introduced a number of changes relating to Qualifying Disclosures made to the Revenue Commissioners regarding existing offshore assets as well as offshore income and gains. In recent days the Revenue Commissioners have been issuing correspondence regarding these changes in order to keep businesses informed ahead of the changes being put into place, so it is important to read all information carefully to ensure you understand these changes.

These new changes will be in effect from May 1st 2017 and will relate to disclosure which includes any of the below outside of the Republic of Ireland.

  • Income or gains arising or accruing outside of the Republic of Ireland.
  • Relevant accounts – applies to both bank accounts and share accounts.
  • Relevant property.

These changes mean that any disclosures made to the Revenue Commissioners from May 1st 2017 onwards relating to offshore assets, income or gains will not be afforded any mitigation of penalties, meaning that the penalty will be 100% of the underpaid tax. Disclosures made before this date will benefit from the usual mitigation of penalties imposed by Revenue. This can often significantly reduce the amount payable. As such, waiting until after this date can result in a significantly higher payment being due and we would advise against waiting in order to reduce this risk.

Should you have any concerns, queries or require further information on these or any other business and financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us we are always available to help.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Voluntary Strike off VS Liquidation

Unfortunately, it is not always prudent or financially viable to keep your business going. To assist you if this is the case, we will today be discussing two ways in which your company can be formally closed down. We will be focusing on Voluntary Company Strike Off and Members Voluntary Liquidation – two very different processes which should not be confused. Rather than incurring the on-going costs of continuing to file annual returns, you can choose to either liquidate or strike the company off. It is inadvisable to simply abandon your company as this can incur ongoing costs as well as causing legal trouble down the line.

Voluntary Company Strike off is the process wherein a company is formally de-registered from the Register of Companies and the Revenue Commissioner. The liquidation process involves the appointment of a liquidator to collect and assign any existing assets.

Voluntary Strike Off is often seen as a quicker and more cost effective option than liquidation. This option is available to companies which have had little or no activity and have no more than €150 in assets or liabilities. Voluntary Strike Off leaves an option to restore the business open for a period of 20 years following the date of dissolution.

Members Voluntary Liquidation is the alternative option for companies which have had activity and remain solvent at the time of cessation. Members Voluntary Liquidation is often seen as the more correct way to dispose of a company as it is not possible to resurrect the company after liquidation.

Voluntary Strike Off is also a cheaper option than Members Voluntary Liquidation despite its inherent lack of finality,

If you require any further information on either Voluntary Strike Off or Members Voluntary Liquidation or indeed any business or financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to help.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Kick Bills before Buckets

With Irish people now beginning to get a foothold on the property ladder later in life, we are also beginning to start families slightly later and as such, thoughts often turn to what provisions can be made for your family in the unfortunate event of your death. Whether sudden or prolonged the death of a loved one has devastating emotional consequences so it is advisable to think ahead and do all that you can to avoid there also being devastating financial consequences. It’s a fairly morbid thought to begin the year with but we are big believers in thinking ahead and there are dangers to be found in ignoring the inevitable.

 

It is advisable to think ahead and to have your affairs in order in so far as possible at all times and at the very least to know what would happen to your existing finances or your current payments in the event of your passing. We might all have hated those conversations our parents would begin about the event of their death, but they are wise to open these discourses to avoid burying our heads in the sand. Having your affairs in order could prevent causing additional pain to your loved ones at an already emotionally painful time.

 

Something which is often overlooked are bank accounts. Whilst many of your debts will pass away with you, bank accounts are not among these. Your bank account will continue to issue payments etc. as usual until informed of the death, so it is advisable to ensure that someone is aware of all of your accounts as they may then be liable to take over a debt they were unaware of, or the account could be left running into difficulty. By contrast, the advantage of a joint account means that all funds can pass directly to the named survivor on the account.

 

Credit Union accounts are another issue which surviving loved ones are often unaware of as your loved ones might be able to avail of a pay out from your credit union savings following your death due to a little known life insurance scheme which accompanies your credit union account as well as being able to avail of any savings you have made. Credit Union loans differ from most as they will typically be cleared upon the death of the account holder.

 

The most crucial manner in which people fail to keep their loved ones up to date on their financial matters is their debts and loans. Many debts or unpaid loans will simply pass to your estate and interest will continue to accumulate on these until paid in full, causing a further headache for your family in what is already a difficult time, debts can even be recovered from existing accounts leaving loved ones without access to these previously available funds, whilst your estate can be liable for any remaining balance.

Mortgages can be problematic, some banks allow a moratorium following a borrower’s death although interest may continue to accumulate so it is wise to check your options in advance so all parties are aware of the situation, and to ensure your mortgage protection is full and up to date.

Having a current up-to-date list of your accounts and investments and ensuring that someone has the information or access to this information to avoid further heartache at a difficult time. Though these issues may feel morbid to bring up, they are vital to ensure that your loved ones can live on as comfortably as possible.

Should you require any assistance or guidance on these or any other financial or business matters please do not hesitate to get in touch or arrange a meeting with us.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Neither a borrower nor a lender be

January is often a time of financial uncertainty for many people as the spending sprees of December leave somewhat of a hole in the pockets and we begin to add to our savings once more. The January sales offers a slight boost to the retail sector during this slump, while for the rest of us they tend to have the opposite pocket-emptying effect. Business lending, however seems to be in full swing in 2017 already. As we discussed towards the end of last year, there was to be somewhat of a new focus on lending in the SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) sector, a sector that found itself sorely left behind and without many financing options available to them whether starting up their business or expanding into bigger and better things.

As predicted, lending to the SME sector has been steadily increasing in recent months, rising by over 5% when comparing the 2016 summer months to the same period in 2015. When comparing the summer months of 2015 with those of 2016, lending to SMEs in the manufacturing sector had increased by approx. 37% and the hotel and restaurant sector by approx. 25%. It has also been found that the rate of loan defaults in particular in the SME sector has dropped from 41% in 2013 to 24% in 2016.

As always it is wise to take these positive findings with a pinch of salt for anyone in the SME sector as there currently tends to always be a down side. In the case of the new availability of lending and the increase in same within the SME sector, the double edged sword of lending has also come with a higher cost of credit than most European countries, possibly due in part to the previous lack of availability. Similarly, with the new availability of lending options, rejection rates are also on the increase with the latest Central Bank loan data showing an increase in the rejection rate from 11% to 16%. Interest rates are also showing to be higher on smaller loans so it is advisable to take into account all of your available financing options before making a commitment to one to ensure that you are getting the best deal for your business and also signing up for a financing option which is sustainable for you.

Rachel McGovern of PIBA financial brokers has been quoted as stating that these findings point to an existing lack of competition in Ireland stating that

“More needs to be done to support Irish SME growth, and the state needs an urgent analysis of what is keeping competitive forces out of the Irish lending market.”

As always, we are big supporters of the SME sector and welcome any changes which will assist this sector to grow and flourish. Should you require any help, guidance or advice for your own newfound or burgeoning SME, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will be delighted to be of assistance.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

R.E.S.P.E.C.T – FIND OUT WHAT IT MEANS TO MANAGEMENT

Earning the respect of our colleagues can be a daunting task in any new role, but ultimately it is the respect of management which the majority of employees crave. With the usual ‘new year, new me’ ethos in mind, we will today focus on ways you can implement small changes to your working day in order to earn the much coveted respect of management. Whether you have taken on a new role for 2017 or are still working hard in your current role, there are small changes which can be made in order to get yourself noticed by management and earn their respect as an employee.

You have already started the New Year by turning up to work, on time no less so you have instantly earned our respect for what it’s worth! Recent studies show that one of the most vital things employees want from their managers is respect. Feeling respected in the workplace leads to happier and more efficient employees as employees feel as though their effort is valued. Here are some handy tips to get you started on this road to respect.

Communication

Communication is key in all relationships and this is evident in the workplace. We all have our shrinking violet moments but one can’t bemoan a lack of respect in the workplace if you daily goal is to remain invisible. Disagree and agree where appropriate and allow your voice to be heard. Another key component of communicating efficiently in the workplace is feedback. Giving and receiving feedback is vital in the establishing of work relationships. Requesting feedback is an ideal way to show your employer that you care about your place in the company.

Clarification

This is possibly one of the most difficult skills to master in the workplace. We all want to impress our boss and do as much as we can, but when the boundaries between our roles and others become blurred we become less capable of doing our own roles to the best of our ability. Despite how long you have been in your role, it is wise to regularly clarify your role so that your focus will be accurate.

Relationships

Building relationships with other employees may not seem like an important way to earn the respect of management, but these relationships show that you intend to be in the role long term and that this isn’t just a stop-gap role for you and shows you to be a trustworthy team-player. Offering support to others in the workplace will also show how vital you are within the team.

Honesty

This is a difficult one for anyone who craves the respect of management. If you feel that there is a lack of respect or you are being overlooked, it might be time to raise the issue with management in order to ascertain if there is a solvable issue or if the issue is a miscommunication. This also gives the opportunity for both parties to explain the difficulties they are facing and get on the same page.

2017 is a new year with many opportunities for you to show your worth. As always, we are here to provide any help or guidance we can and together, we can conquer 2017.

 

Should you require any help, assistance or guidance on these or any other tax or business matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

ICS YOU CAN

Something which we consistently come back to as a topic of interest for our customers are mortgage lending rules and the tiresome process of trying to get a foothold on the property ladder, which let’s face it, these days can often feel like playing a very difficult video game. You’re pressing all the right buttons, but somehow still find yourself placed back at the previous checkpoint. Recently, with minor changes made to the rules for first time buyers it seems that the clouds are clearing somewhat to allow an easier path to your first home. Further good news continues to come in for prospective new home owners in the form of the return of schemes and products which assist in the purchasing process and provide buyers with more options than were previously available. Following on from the economic downturn, all available products and schemes aimed towards making it easier to begin the climb up the property ladder seemed to effectively disappear overnight. Recently we have seen a slow resurgence in these schemes and products which is welcome news. Today we will be discussing the new buy-to-let product from Dilosk and ICS mortgages which is aimed towards both individuals and companies.

 

The idea of buy-to-let is to turn a property purchase into an investment in order to utilise it as a cash flow solution. Upon purchasing the property, it is then placed for rent in the hopes of covering mortgage costs as well as any outgoings and perhaps generating some amount of income for the landlord. Buy to let involves dealing with the expectation of capital growth and thinking in the long-term which can be tricky as these matters are always in flux but it is ultimately a worthwhile endeavour which can generate cash flow which would not ordinarily exist which is never a negative thing these days.

 

ICS’s buy-to-let mortgage package is available to both individual and company investors. The loan structure for both options is fairly similar in that both offer a 10 year interest only option and a 20 year capital and repayment option as well as a minimum term of 5 years and a maximum of 20. The differences arise in relation to the borrowers themselves as there are additional criteria which applies to the individual and not the company investor.

 

The individual must be:

 

  • Min age at application: 21 Years.
  • Max age at maturity: 75 Years.
  • Minimum annual income: €40,000.
  • Max of four applicants.

 

 

The property must also be in the Republic of Ireland. Lending will be made available to those who meet these criteria, have a clean and who wish to buy in any major cities in the Republic of Ireland with more than 10,000 citizens. Further information can be found on their website or by contacting ICS directly. Finally we are seeing some positive movement in the mortgage market

 

Should you require any help, assistance or guidance on these or any other tax or business matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

CALMING THE PROPERTY PANICS

Over the past number of months we have spoken many times about the property issues facing prospective first time homeowners, as well as those hoping to upgrade. Following on from the introduction of new and stricter mortgage rules in 2015 it has become increasingly difficult to gain a foothold on the property ladder. Whilst the prices of property soar, so too does the cost of renting which effectively blocks the ladder from those attempting to save for the now essential 10/20% mortgage deposit whilst also living in rented accommodation. The revelations that there might soon be changes to these rules were widely welcomed and soon cut short by the knowledges that they were unlikely to be revoked entirely.

 

Recently, changes were indeed made to the new rules which should provide some small relief to prospective homeowners as long as property prices don’t immediately begin to rise again. It was announced that from January 1st 2017 the 220,000 cap for first time buyers would now be scrapped. This will be a welcome change for buyers currently saving for their deposit as the deposit requirements will now be 10% across the board regardless of property price. As property prices continue to rise it becomes increasingly difficult to find housing under this 220,000 threshold to avoid paying the additional 10% on anything above this cost. Now, a prospective homeowner will need a deposit of 30,000 for a house costing 300,000 where previously under the old rules they would have needed 38,000 for the same house.

 

The rules regarding being able to borrow only 3.5 times your income will remain unchanged as it is thought that this failsafe will prevent buyers borrowing more than they will be capable of repaying long term. There will also be no change to the 20% deposit requirement for second time and subsequent buyers which will be disappointing for those hoping to upgrade in the near future.

 

One often overlooked aspect to the amendments given to the mortgage rules is that when used in conjunction with the help-to-buy scheme announced in the budget, there could be real savings to be had for first time buyers who choose a new build. The help-to-buy scheme announced by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan in the Budget states that the Government will offer first-time buyers tax rebates of up to €20,000 on new homes valued up to €500,000. When coupled with the now abolished cap on the required deposit this could mean great savings for first time buyers which will be welcome at this point in their lives.

 

Should you require any help, assistance or guidance on these or any other tax or business matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

12 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER

Some welcome news for Irish business came this week in the form of Adecco’s Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) report. This report found that Ireland ranks 12th in the world in attracting and retaining skilled workers. The report places Ireland ahead of European countries such as Germany and France but predictably behind the UK and the United States.

 

Ireland has, in recent years become somewhat of a global tech hub, with multinational tech corporations such as Facebook choosing Dublin as the location for their European head office. This is certain to have boosted Dublin’s standing in this report and added to Ireland’s ranking as 10th for talent competitiveness worldwide. This relatively newfound standing as a tech hub shows the growing ability for Ireland to benefit from the changing technological and economic landscape.

 

One warning sign from this report which was pointed out by Adecco UK and Ireland CEO, John L Marshall is that whilst these findings show Ireland as being a centre for attracting quality talent, it also conversely points to a reliance on attracting outside talent and investment, rather than investing in home-grown talent. Marshall was quoted as saying

“This year’s Global Talent Competitiveness Index demonstrates Ireland’s success in building a robust talent infrastructure, capable of both attracting and retaining highly skilled talent from across the world […] That said, the report also demonstrates the need to continue to invest in home-grown talent, to ensure the next generation of Irish professionals are equipped to compete in the global marketplace and face challenges of the future.”

 

So whilst we have officially positioned ourselves as players in the global tech market, it is now essential to turn an eye inward to focus on the talent and funding we have at our disposal in this country, to avoid an over-reliance on attracting outside talent.

 

Whilst times are changing for us here and exciting new prospects are on the horizon, it is important for Irish businesses to focus on their own home-grown talent and ensure that this is fostered and trained appropriately to ensure that we have a talented and capable Irish workforce at our disposal.

 

Should you require any help, assistance or guidance on these or any other tax or business matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY 2017 FROM DCA

 Here at DCA we would like to wish all our clients a very Merry Christmas,
and wish you and your business a prosperous 2017!