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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

TaxSaver TaxSaver, They Know how to Save you

There is no denying that we live in quite expensive times with the general cost of living continuing to increase steadily. As a result, both business owners and employees alike are as always looking to where costs can be cut or savings can be made. Travel and food are often the biggest savings downfalls for employees. When hoping to cut costs these are often the first avenues to be explored, which is often exploited by advertisers insisting on informing of us of the many varied other things we could do with the cost of our morning cappuccino.

For those of us who simply cannot function in the morning without that well needed caffeine fix and the knowing glance from our local barista, the good news is that there are many available ways to save without sacrificing the sacred morning routine. For both business owners and employees alike, the travel Taxsaver could be a fantastic solution which can save the company money whilst also ensuring a happy workforce by saving the employees money on their daily commute.

This scheme has proven its worth as over 3500 companies currently purchasing travel tickets for their employees. The system allows companies to save up to 10.75% in PRSI whilst employees can save between 31 and 52% in tax on the cost of their travel.

The taxsaver travel ticket is purchased through the company and can be paid for by the employee through salary sacrifice, in place of a bonus or as an additional perk as part to their salary. Companies can register to take part in this service via www.taxsaver.ie and can now order employee tickets via an online service to be delivered directly to the company saving time as well as money, which none of us will ever complain about these days.

Employees hoping to save up to 52% on their commute can contact taxsaver on 1850211777 to see if their company is registered or direct their employer to the website in order to register. Once organised the company will purchase the ticket on your behalf (payment method to be agreed upon) and this will be delivered direct to your workplace so you can start saving for those cappuccinos or rainy days.

Additionally, there is a choice of travel options available as you can choose bus, rail or a combination of the two depending on your most used mode of transport.

With such large savings at the fingertips of both employers and employees, it is no surprise that this has already proven to be a popular choice, and is sure to grow.

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

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

ULSTER BANK LOAN REFINANCING

The final loan sale for the parent of Ulster Bank RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) is due to be completed in September 2015. The final sale of the ‘Project Aran’ non-performing loan portfolio to Cerberus in December 2014 saw the disposal of the loan book relating to property borrowings. The focus has now shifted to the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) lending book.

 

Following on from this, Ulster Bank have now agreed to allow borrowers apply to refinance existing debts through a third party bank. The hope is that all offers would be submitted by February 28th 2015 with full financing to be completed by March 31st 2015.

 

So what does this mean for you should you wish to pursue this option?

 

With such a tight timeline we would advise that all borrowers should be swift and thorough in compiling and submitting their documentation. Ensure ahead of time that all of your documentation is present and correct and that all points and requests are backed up with the valid paperwork. It might seem like an obvious request but even the smallest omission can cost you valuable time. With such a short period of submission, there is unlikely to be time allocated for re-submission.

 

Bank of Ireland are said to be gearing up to refinance a high volume of Small Business Loans from Ulster bank ahead of this portfolio sale, in a move similar to that which occurred with the Government Credit Guarantee scheme, which has been extended to cover business whose lenders are/were leaving the Irish Market. This scheme was originally only available to new loans but the decision was made to open it up for refinancing options with the move of Danske bank among others out of the country.

 

The issue for borrowers hoping to opt in to this refinancing offer of Ulster Banks is of course in the short timeframe allotted for submission so organisation is key and, as always DCA Accountants are here for you should you require assistance.