How Santa got his Tax Back

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it is also the time of year when people are likely to be more in need of an extra bit of cash in their wallets or accounts. Having possibly spent more than we intended to on Christmas presents having sworn that this year would be different, we may likely find ourselves in need of an extra boost of cash flow for the New Year.

Here at EcovisDCA we are always thinking of our friends and clients and, particularly at this time of year when our minds take more of a shift towards those we love and care about we thought that this would be a good opportunity to remind you all that the deadline for the four-year time limit for claiming tax back on expenses such as prescriptions, doctor fees, and tuition fees is fast approaching.

This may have fallen down the list of priorities in the run up to Christmas, but it is worth noting that the deadline for claiming expenses incurred in 2013 is 31st December 2017. It may be a wonderful way to start off the New Year on the right foot having completed your claim which has likely been on your mind for some time.

If you submit your claim to Revenue before 31st December 2017, you will be entitled to claim for all four years; 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, and you may be surprised to find that you are entitled to a refund. As always, the recommended route is through the PAYE Service on their MyAccount system, which has made making claims and filings infinitely easier in recent years.

Further information can be accessed on the Revenue website and as always our advice is to get your claim in as soon as possible and avoid waiting until the deadline is upon you.

Should you require any assistance or guidance on any financial or business matters, please do not hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA, where we are always happy to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Little Fish in a Big Pond

As you no doubt are aware by now, we here at EcovisDCA are big supporters of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s). We have spoken at length in the past about the challenges faced by these types of businesses as well as the opportunities for growth and investment surrounding them. This week, we are focusing on the bigger picture for SMEs in Europe.

Data released from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical office this week revealed that SMEs actually generate half the value of the intra-EU trade in goods. Whilst we have long known that SMEs form the backbone of the Irish economy, we now see that they are beginning to form the cornerstone of trade within the European Union also. SMEs in counties such as Latvia, Cyprus, Estonia and the Netherlands fly the flag for European SMEs as they are understood to have generated in excess of two thirds of intra-EU goods exports.

These new findings show that 98% of companies trading goods within the EU are SMEs, and that 70% of these companies are micro-enterprises. Small and Medium Enterprises are defined within the European Union as being non-subsidiary, independent firms which employ fewer than 250 employees, whilst micro-enterprises are defined as being businesses operating on a much smaller scale, with fewer than 9 employees.

Whilst we know that SMEs account for more than half of all Irish business, this new data shows that there is massive room for improvement for Irish SMEs within the larger European Union market. Irish SMEs account for less than one third of the intra-EU exports which given our size compared to larger countries may be understandable, but does allow for more expansion of Irish SMEs into this marketplace.

With Irish Small and Medium Enterprises now having greater access to a wider number of funding options than were available previously, there is now more opportunity for Irish SMEs to take to the World Stage. As always, we root for the underdogs here in Ireland!

Should you require any assistance or guidance on any financial or business matters, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA where we will be delighted to be of service.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Looking at the Big Picture for SMEs

As you know, we here at EcovisDCA are massive supporters of the SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) community in Ireland. The businesses were some of the hardest hit by the economic downturn, and remain affected despite continued recovery. Funding for SMEs has been relatively slow to make a return to the market and in recent weeks we have discussed some new options coming to the market for these types of business. This week, we return with even more good news in the SME market.

The ISIF (Ireland Strategic Investment Fund), an economic stimulus vehicle is set to join forces with AIB and Bank of Ireland as a backer for a new investment fund targeting Irish SMEs. This venture will be managed by BGF, a private UK company with a wealth of British lenders at its disposal. This UK-based company will now have an Irish branch for this purpose and will have a dedicated Irish team based in Dublin.

The idea behind this investment endeavour is to allow Irish SMEs access to a longer term funding and investment than would be ordinarily available, whilst also giving managers access to expertise from their investor. This will allow these companies to expand and scale up their operations whilst having the financial back up, and advice on hand.

Investments will initially be available of between €2m and €10m in exchange for minority stake in the business in question, it is planned that additional funding will then be available from the investing company. Qualifying businesses will have revenues between €5m and €100m per year.

Should you require any help or guidance on any small, medium, or indeed large enterprise, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at Ecovis DCA where we will be happy to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

The Offshore Blues

With the Tax deadlines having just passed, taxation has been a hot topic of conversation in recent weeks, we have spoken in the past about the ways in which there will be an increased clamp down on tax evasion and this week, Revenue have confirmed that there is an inquiry underway to identify tax payers engaged in offshore tax evasion and avoidance. Recent leaks in the celebrity world have brought issues such as these to the forefront of public consciousness and now we are seeing this become a higher priority for Revenue themselves.

Changes made in the Finance Act 2016 means that now any tax payers engaged in offshore activities may face larger penalties and even prosecution for defaulting. The deadline for coming forward with declarations on offshore tax liabilities was May 5th 2017, and despite receiving over 2700 disclosures, it is thought that there may be many others.

As we have discussed previously, Revenue are embracing technological advances in order to tackle tax evasion and will be employing a system of data analytics to combat this offshore issue. According to Daniel Sinnot, Head of Revenue’s Research

“Data analytics is an integral element of Revenue decision making, and it works by having a ‘whole of taxpayer’ view. We use proprietary software to match the data that we receive from other tax administrations to Revenue’s taxpayer records, then cross-check against prior returns to ensure all relevant income and assets have been declared. We also feed the data into our social network analysis and anomaly detection tools, to highlight suspicious cases. Then, as we begin to carry out risk based compliance interventions, we use the results of our interventions to train machine-learning models that further refine our ability to recognise and target the riskiest cases.”  

Mr. Rigney also stated that Revenue study and examine the information published in the wider media, including all allegations within the so-called “Paradise Papers”. The disclosures already made have revealed that over half were related to British-based liabilities with others referring to the UK, France, Spain and Switzerland. Revenue have revealed that almost a third of the disclosures related to property, with 20% relating to shares.

It is clear that tax evasion remains a top priority for Revenue and as always we recommend early and efficient filing before deadlines to avoid any penalties or issues that may delay processing. Revenue have stated that they will continue to keep this as a priority and will investigate further as more information emerges.

Should you have any queries relating to any business or financial matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we are always happy to help you and your business.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

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