Salaries On The Rise

More Money, More Problems?

As January draws to a close and we emerge bleary eyed from the post-Christmas slump things start to cheer up. The days start to get brighter for longer and we are no longer coming and going from work in total darkness. The sun begins to warm up for spring and we start to slow down our bemoaning to our colleagues the absolute length of January and we cast an eye towards booking our summer holidays. With this casting off of the darkness of January, we all like to receive a bit of hopeful news and this week there has been talk of some wallet-bulking changes.

It was reported this week as part of Bank of Ireland’s monthly Economic Pulse survey that almost half of workers can expect a pay rise this year as employers begin to make more plans to increase wages. This follows on from the findings that firms in all disciplines have heightened expectations for January’s business activity. Data from January shows that 44% of business owners are planning to increase employee wages this year, which is an increase of 7% from last year. It is believed that this is reflective of both the increase in minimum wage and a tightening of the labour market over the past 12 months.

Chief Economist with Bank of Ireland Dr. Loretta O’Sullivan has stated that

“The mood was positive this month […] the economy is doing well and public finances remain on track […] the Economic Pulse started the new year on a positive note, with consumer confidence posting a two-year high and business sentiment up on December’s reading. While some of the improvement this month is due to seasonal effects, the Budget changes to social welfare payments and income taxes lined pockets in January, as did the rise in the national minimum wage, which helped lift the mood”

This is of course a very positive note on which to begin the New Year as the post-Christmas sales also increased consumer confidence as almost half of consumers have stated that post-Christmas was the perfect time to make major purchases for the home like electrical goods or furniture. It was also found that despite rising house prices eliminating many from the market, over 30% of existing homeowners are planning on spending large sums of money on home improvements in 2018.

Bank of Ireland have stated that despite these positives, it is important that businesses not become complacent particularly in the unknown field that Brexit presents.

Should you require any further guidance please do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA where we will be happy to assist you in starting 2018 on the right foot.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

The Links that make the Chain

Funding is something which is often at the forefront of every business owners mind. Whether yours is a large fully functioning company in need of some modernisation or upgrading or you are just starting out as an SME (Small or Medium Enterprise) and you require that extra financial push to get your fledgling business to leave the nest, finance is an essential part of business life. We would all like to think of ourselves as fully independent and to think of our business as being our baby, belonging only to us, but no company is an island and no company can exist and thrive in a vacuum, particularly during difficult financial times so seeking finance is often an ideal way to give your company an essential push to either get off the ground, or gain new ground for an existing company.

Recently, we have focused primarily on SMEs and we have discussed the newly widening availability of funding for these companies during Ireland’s continued recovery. Where in the past funding was a commodity in scarce supply, now there are more options available to choose from. This is welcome news for all business owners as gaining access to credit may be the ideal method to prevent your business from stagnating. Currently, many SMEs still struggle to gain finance and fail to realise the true potential of their business.

One new method of gaining funding comes from Linked Finance who pride themselves on connecting hard-working business owners with thousands of individual lenders, ordinary Irish people willing to lend to deserving companies who may otherwise not have the option of progressing. Linked Finance are happy to snip that tangle of red tape and reinvigorate P2P (Peer to Peer) lending to, in their own words

“Bring business lending back to basics; real people with savings lending to great local businesses at attractive interest rates.”

If bypassing the banks and gaining funding for your business through P2P lending sounds like something you could benefit then Linked Finance might be your first port of call. Providing approval for SME loans from €5000 to €250000 in just 8 hours, the process couldn’t be simpler. Your loan request will be auctioned to lenders and once approved by you, your funding can be processed within 48hours.

The requirements for Linked Finance are as follows:

  • Your business must be trading for 2 years
  • Have turnover in excess of €100,000
  • Positive cash flow
  • No history of missing payments
  • No outstanding judgements

Visit www.linkedfinance.com for more information.

Should you require any further guidance please do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA where we will be happy to assist you in starting 2018 on the right foot.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

PAYE Changes

Unfogging the Small Print

The new year period is a time of change each year and whilst so often many of our ‘New Year, New Me’ promises may not stick, there are certain changes in the financial field that are occurring this year that it would be easy to miss. As always, we want to keep you as fully informed as possible.

Until recently, some tax assessment was on what is known as the “earnings basis” and was calculated regardless of whether or not the income was paid to the individual during that assessment year. The PAYE system operates on what is known as the “receipts basis” as in the employer deducting tax from the income at the time of payment to employee. New changes to the Finance Act of 2017 will bring order to confusion and bring all in line with the PAYE system of operations, meaning that all assessments will be moved to the “receipts basis” of assessment.

Changes have been made to the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system from January 1st 2018 that not everyone may be aware of. As of the beginning of this year, the statutory basis of assessment for most employment income is the actual amount of income received, thus placing the basis of assessment for Schedule E income in line with the operation of PAYE.

Further changes will be in effect from January 1st 2019 including a further modernisation of the PAYE system. From next year, employers will be required to report relevant payroll data to Revenue no later than the date of payment to the employee. There will then be an automatic end of year review carried out on all PAYE customers for the year 2019 and subsequent years.

There are a number of exclusions to the receipts basis who will not see this change, proprietary directors will not be required to make this move, and where there is a PAYE exclusion order in place, no changes will occur. The changes will be required of all other employers and employees.

It is hoped that these moves will have a minimal or non-existent effect on employers, who will still be required to make the deductions when payments are made using the PAYE system. Similarly, this move should also not affect employee wages. As we have discussed in the past, Revenue are eager to clamp down on outstanding tax issues, and are now making the positive move to bring everything in line on a statutory basis and bring parity where there was confusion.

For further information, we advise reading through the recently published Tax and Duty Manual Part 05-01-08 found at the Revenue website at your leisure.

Should you require any further guidance please do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA where we will be happy to assist you in starting 2018 on the right foot.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

The Affordable Mortgage Scheme

The First Time Ever you saw your Own Home

We have spoken many times in the past about the ongoing increase in house prices and the ways that these rises combined with stricter mortgage rules have begun to effectively squeeze many first time buyers out of the market. Similarly, the rapid increase of rental costs has dampened many prospective buyers hopes as these costs make it increasingly difficult to get a deposit together. In recent years it has become very difficult to be a hopeful first time buyer, but it seems that there might be a blink of hope on the horizon for prospective buyers on lower incomes.

It was announced this week that the Government has set aside €200m to fund a new scheme entitled the Affordable Mortgage Scheme to offer relief to first time buyers on lower incomes. The scheme will see local councils offer mortgages at lower interest rates than the majority of lending banks and crucially, will be fixed for the duration of the loan. This is said to save buyers up to €10,000 over the duration of their mortgage. The scheme is set for a relatively immediate start, with a start date of February 1st and is sure to offer some hope for lower income buyers.

Interestingly, the scheme’s loan can be used for second –hand as well as new properties, and to build your own home. This is a departure from all other recent schemes which were available only to new homes, and did not apply to building your own home. Previously, there was a local authority mortgage scheme in place for those who had been previously turned down, but this was offered at a variable interest rate and did not offer the long term savings that the Affordable Mortgage Scheme promises.

Under this scheme first time buyers will have access to loans of up to €288,000 at a fixed interest rate of 2.25% for 30 years. This offers first time buyers the security of knowing their repayments for the duration of their mortgage. Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has said of the scheme:

“What this means essentially is that a person or couple can purchase a home, while ensuring that they can still keep their monthly repayments to one-third of their net disposable income – with no risk of their mortgage rate rising and so no threat to their ability to afford repayments, giving them certainty and security.”

The loan will be subject to the same lending rules as the banks, in that buyers will require a 10% deposit on the property. Buyers will need to have evidence of being turned down by two lenders and there is also an income cap of €50,000 per year for single buyers and €75,000 per year for joint buyers. There will also be a limit on the overall price of the home as in the Greater Dublin, Cork and Galway areas the maximum market value of the property cannot exceed €320,000 whilst elsewhere in the country this limit will be €250,000.

Should you require any guidance on any financial or business matters, please do not hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA, where we will be happy to assist.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Remembering the Importance of Saving

Don’t Break the (Piggy) Bank

As January gets into full swing and we all settle back into the daily grind of working life, some of our New Year resolutions may be left behind or pushed aside in favour of those resolutions promising more longevity or better return of investment. High on people’s lists of resolutions is often the vow to save more money in the coming year. Whilst the increasing cost of living might make this quite a difficult task, it is often one of the most rewarding resolutions as the results can be clear to see. We have spoken recently about some of our top tips for saving in the New Year, and it seems like you will not be alone in your savings endeavours.

The Bank of Ireland Savings and Investment Index, published on 15th January shows that over half of Irish consumers were regularly saving during the December period. December is of course a rather difficult time for savings, and this sentiment was also reflected in the findings. Tom McCabe, global investment strategist with Bank of Ireland Investment Markets was quoted as saying:

“”Irish sentiment towards savings and investments eased in December mainly as a result of a weaker outlook for the savings and investment environment. This may be temporary given recent trends in the index but could also be an early indication that savers are looking for better returns on their money and are willing to consider alternatives to their savings account.”

This shows that although Irish consumers are continuing to save, there is a lingering fear that savings are no longer generating enough of a return in their traditional savings methods. This may see a shift in the Irish market towards investments rather than traditional saving. The Index found that 34% of Irish consumers also invested regularly during the month of December, much like the savings findings this could be either temporary or indicative of a new trend in Irish savings.

Hinting towards this being a possible new Irish trend is the fact that investments were more prevalent in the younger generation with 39% of under 50s regularly investing whilst only 26% of over 50s were found to be investing during the same period. Perhaps unsurprisingly, investment numbers were higher in November than December, which is to be expected as December is often a month in which consumers have less disposable income.

These findings also found that the Irish population have a strong preference towards saving should they encounter any windfall gain, but also a new move towards considering investments with windfall amounts.

Should you require any help or guidance on any savings, investments, business or personal finance matters please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Merry Christmas From Ecovis DCA

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year From All At ECOVIS DCA.

Long Term Gains from Short Term Pains

It’s that time of year when we are all more intensely focused on our ever-lightening wallets as the Christmas season puts a strain on our willpower not to buy everything in the stores. Whilst most of us are focused on the short term goal of getting over the Christmas period, it has emerged that far too few of us are focusing on our longer term goals, particularly our goals in terms of retirement.

A recent study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has found that the average Irish worker’s pension is worth less than half of their earnings (roughly 34%) due to the lack of provision made beyond the basic State Pension. This leaves Ireland far behind other European countries in terms of pension provisions. In addition to this, it has emerged that approximately two thirds of workers have no occupational pension to supplement their State Pension. This news does not bode well for the future retirement of Ireland’s workforce, and has been described as being a pensions time bomb.

In order to combat this issue and diffuse this situation, a new scheme is being planned which would see workers paying 5% of their salary into their pensions from their 20s onwards, with employers expected to match the 5% annually. The scheme would be mandatory and would see workers and employers enrolled automatically. The OECD have stated that this could more than double the existing pension potential of workers without being a significant drain on their current earnings. If all workers had an occupational pension in addition to their State Pension we could avoid major issues when our young workers reach old age.

It is also believed that middle class workers who do not have an occupational pension, could see their pension be worth as little as 24% of their salary. The OECD believe that these occupational pensions should be mandatory for all workers entering the workforce from age 20 onwards in order to diffuse this ticking time bomb. Ireland and New Zealand remain the only countries within the OECD that do not have mandatory second tier pension provisions, with other countries having various options available.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has stated that there could be an automatic enrolment scheme in place for these provisions by 2021, with the option for workers to opt out.

Should you have any queries on any financial or business matters please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA, where we will be happy to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

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