What is a PCP loan?

We Would Use a Car Pun – But we’re Exhausted

All the recent talk about Ireland’s continued economic recovery can be somewhat hard to swallow when the benefits are not being felt in the pockets of the average worker, and it can be draining to work consistently on a punishing schedule of balancing work and family life while feeling as though there is no boost to your pocket and no disposable income.

Whilst we may continually hear year on year about more new cars being sold, it is still only a vast minority who would have the disposable income to purchase such a luxury item outright. This is where the option of PCP may be applicable. PCP finance is of course not the optimal route for everyone to go down to purchase a new vehicle, as with everything in life there is no ‘one size fits all’ fix unfortunately.

PCP is a Personal Contract Plan, which roughly translates as an agreement between yourself and a financing company (not necessarily within the car dealership themselves) in which you agree to make monthly payments on the car of your choosing for a set period (usually 3-5 years). What makes PCP financing such an attractive prospect to most, is that there is generally quite a low deposit in comparison to other car purchasing options, and the longer term also offers lower repayments.

A PCP plan is a simple and relatively no-nonsense solution to your car needs as it is split into three stages: Deposit, Payment Term and Final Payment.

Deposit:

This stage is the beginning of your contract wherein you will either pay a deposit to begin the contract or occasionally trade in your old vehicle as deposit. The larger the deposit, the smaller the repayments.

Payment Term:

This will be the period of 3-5 years during which you will make your monthly repayments. As the car is still technically under contract it will be important to ensure the car is kept well and undamaged as this may affect the final stage of the contract.

Final Payment:

Generally, for this stage there will be choices made available to you to either make the full lump sum payment (this figure will have been decided at the time of the contract), return the car with no further payments to be made, or occasionally a dealership will allow you to trade in the vehicle as a deposit off a newer model, which would then begin your payment term all over again. Final Payment may be dependent on the term of your contract and the finance company you are dealing with as not all plans will have a lump sum payment at the end.

Many PCP plans may include mileage and damage conditions, so it is vital to be aware of all details of your own plan before signing on the dotted line. PCP is relatively straightforward and there is little to no small-print to be aware of once your payments are made on time, and its lower deposit and repayments may make it a more attractive proposition to most than a hire-purchase agreement or loan. As always we would suggest using caution and ensuring that you have all information to hand before making the commitment, even if it is the car of your dreams.

Should you have any queries or require further information on this or any other business or financial matter please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA’s new head office, where as always we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Cyber Security – Protecting Against Invisible Threats

As a business owner, your primary concern will be for the continued safety and prosperity of your business. Despite the fact that we live in an increasingly digital age of constant connection, one area of security that often falls flat for businesses is that of Cyber Security. We often rest on our laurels and forget just how connected we all are on a daily basis and how easy a data breech can occur, and snowball into a critical issue. In recent months, the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) guidelines have somewhat brought the issue of online and data security to the forefront of business issues. Today we have decided to talk about the issue of cyber security and how you can best ensure the continued safety of your business.

While it may appear impossible to fight against such an enormous beast as the World Wide Web, there are in fact a great many measures that can be taken to ensure the security of your data. In recent months it has become increasingly regular that business payments may be made into incorrect bank accounts due to fraud as email is one area that is often the most easily compromised. As a result, it is imperative to ensure that all employees are aware of the dangers associated with unsolicited or incorrect emails. This is particularly vital in the case of SMEs, for which a breach could be fatal. We would advise ensuring that all employees are trained and aware of the dangers. We have compiled a few tips to assist you in this endeavour.

  • Create company-wide awareness of the data which most needs protection and how/where this data is stored.
  • Ensure that your company has a strong password policy in place and that each worker abides by the password requirements. Changing passwords regularly is also advised.
  • Have a plan in place should a breach occur.
  • Encrypt important confidential information to protect it from unauthorised access.
  • In some cases a privacy screen for monitors may be helpful.
  • Always check the email address from which a suspect email has come from. Often the email itself will seem like a genuine invoice, but the email address may give it away as fraudulent.
  • Use extra caution when dealing with any emails requesting payment.
  • Verify payments and payment details directly with the person who has requested them, it is better to do this outside of the email system.
  • Never open any suspicious emails containing attachments or links.
  • Use a reliable security software solution.
  • Never leave your wireless systems unprotected.
  • Ensure that only the necessary employees have administrative access.
  • Should your business bank details be compromised in any way, notify the bank immediately and also ensure that other companies you have dealt with are notified of the breach in case their own details may have also been compromised.
  • Stay ahead: The internet is an ever changing world, it is vital to stay aware of updated risks. It should never be assumed that a threat has passed and the business is entirely safe.

We hope that this will be of assistance in ensuring the continued cyber safety of your business.Should you have any queries or require further information on this or any other business or financial matter please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA’s new head office, where as always we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

The Companies (Statutory Audits) Act

Louder than the Lions

The Companies (Statutory Audits) Act was officially enacted on July 25th 2018 following a lengthy period of concern and a debate on July 10th. This Act mostly focuses on implementing updated to the EU Audit directive and on implementing appropriate auditing legislation in Ireland.

Unfortunately, as tends to happen in Irish Business Law, there were some poorly thought out amendments made to this act which have been major causes for concern over recent weeks. One example of an area which was in dire need of clarification and change was in Sections 9 and 10 of the bill which removes the option to apply for exemptions after falling late (S. 343), and requires smaller companies to apply to the High Court for any exemptions. Previously, the CRO (Companies Registration Office) had themselves stated that it would be cost prohibitive to involve the High Courts in these matters, so evidently these were clauses which may create more issues than they were worth. It was originally thought that these new clauses were created in order to prevent repeat offences, but it was ultimately felt by business owners that this may not be the best way to deal with this issue, as Revenue themselves clamp down more effectively on these issues.

There have been many lobbying against these changes and reports suggest that this kind of major immediate change could have negative consequences on the smaller businesses which form the backbone of Irish businesses. It seemed that there would be no movement on these decisions as the Ministers seemed entirely steadfast in their decisions. This, along with numerous letters issued to local TD’s eventually lead to the debate of July 10th.

Following on from this debate there was finally some good news recently for accountants in practice as their voices were finally heard and it was decided that the proposed amendments were utterly inappropriate and not feasible. Companies who find themselves falling late can still make an application under S.343 for an exemption or to extend their filing date to avoid fees mounting up.

Should you have any concerns or queries about these or any other business and financial matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA, where we are always happy to be of service.

Should you have any queries or require further information on this or any other business or financial matter please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA’s new head office, where as always we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Is The Economy Overheating?

Too Much of a Good Thing

When emerging blinking from the darkness of an economic crisis, such as the one Ireland experienced in the not so distant past, it becomes important to latch on to the positive steps in the right direction many of which we have spoken about in the past with new funding options being made available as well as a general increase in consumer confidence. Amidst all this good news there have of course arisen some issues such as the exponential rise in house prices and the general cost of living leaving many to question whether or not Ireland’s recovery will ever be felt in the average wallet. It’s important not to get too cocky or confident in the midst of a recovery as we have seen in the past than anything can happen with no notice.

These fears were somewhat verified this week as the Central Bank warned Ireland not to become complacent about recovery. Mark Cassidy, the Central Bank’s director of economics and statistics has warned that despite all signs pointing to continued strong growth and plenty of jobs being created, that there are many factors at play in the background that could possibly leave Ireland at risk of seriously overheating. Overheating refers to when growth begins to overtake ability to meet demand, something that we are already seeing some evidence of in our housing markets. From the possibility of a hard Brexit which we have spoken at length about to the recently discussed changes in international tax practises, there are many reasons to be wary and plenty of issues which threaten to place Ireland in an economically vulnerable state.

The Central Bank have issued several warnings in recent months that the risk of an external crisis causing issues for the Irish economy was high, but recently have announced that the possibility of an internal crisis is on the rise as Ireland begins to overheat. Last week, Central Bank officials postulated that it may be necessary for taxes to be increase in order to cool down our rapidly overheating economy.

The risk remains that if Ireland continues to recover at the same speed and manages to reach its full capacity for growth, it is of course a positive, but unless demand in various sectors begins to increase in conjunction with this, the risk of overheating and creating some form of downturn remains high.

Should you have any queries or require further information on this or any other business or financial matter please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA’s new head office, where as always we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

 

The Climate Action Fund – A New Grant Available

Save the Planet – It’s the only one with Chocolate

Whilst Irish business can often be a stressful place to be in the current environment, there has been a lot of movement in the right direction during Ireland’s economic recovery and we have spoken in the past about new layers of support being put in place for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) which remain the backbone of Irish business. From new funding opportunities to new investment opportunities Ireland is fast becoming the ideal place to do business, with some suggesting that Brexit may in fact be beneficial to Ireland’s business standings worldwide. We have spoken in the past about a number of available grants and today we will discuss one which we feel may be of particular benefit to our clients.

In our modern age it has become increasingly apparent that each individual must make strides to make our planet a more sustainable place to live. Often there is very little incentive to engage in such a costly process with the return of investment being a very long term process. Now however, for the first time not merely exclusive to SMEs there is a grant available that will help you make your business more eco-friendly without leaving a massive hole in your pocket.

The Climate Action Fund is part of the National Development plan which promises to change Ireland for the better by 2027, and will offer support to those businesses which assist the country in reaching its climate and energy targets. The purpose of the grants given will be to fund projects which would otherwise not be possible to complete. The fund will have an allocation of at least €500million leading up to 2027. The first call for applications to this fund will deal with larger scale projects scheduled for development in 2019-2020, which seek support in excess of €1million. Should you feel that your company may benefit from this, there is a rather small window of opportunity as the applications will be open from September 17th until October 1st so it would be imperative that you gather all required information and begin the process of collating this and having a project plan in place in advance of the application call opening.

The funding will be available to a wide range of projects which serve the greater interest of Ireland’s eco-awareness including:

  • Renewable Energy Projects.
  • Heating Projects.
  • Electrical Vehicle Charging Projects.
  • Environmental Protection Projects.
  • Energy Efficiency Projects.

This is of course only the first call for applications, there will be more over the course of the project and undoubtedly these will apply to a wide range of businesses and serve varied functions so if this first call does not apply to your company, we would advise keeping a close eye on the scheme for the next series of calls for applications.

Should you have any queries or require further information on this or any other business or financial matter please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA’s new head office, where as always we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Brexit – Still No Clearer

Hope for the Brexit Best

It goes without saying that even those hiding under a rock with no Wi-Fi signal will by now have heard the word ‘Brexit’ by this point, meaning Britain’s highly controversial exit from the European Union. Brexit has proven to be a much more complex issue than it seemed was earlier anticipated and is now an issue fraught with tension and uncertainty for both Britain and our own little island which is often hidden under the safe shadow of its nearest neighbour.

In reports this week it seems that at this point the very notion of Brexit has become a rather messy one, with no parties having a clear understanding of what the final result will actually be. In this environment of uncertainty and as we rely on the UK so heavily for trade routes and business, it has been a cause for much concern in terms of Irish businesses. Terms like ‘Hard Brexit’ and ‘Soft Brexit’ have been thrown around a lot in recent weeks, but what is becoming apparent is that those who voted for Brexit may not be as in control of their destiny as they anticipated and may not have as much power to decide the terms of the departure. The British government continues to attempt to come to an agreement and create a plan which will be beneficial to the majority. As talks continue to fall apart it becomes increasingly clear that Brexit will not affect Britain in isolation, rather it will have a ripple effect across Europe. Even knowing this, it is easy to become tangled in terminology and speculation.

With this atmosphere of fear and uncertainty it came as somewhat of a surprise to hear our own Taoiseach’s assurances that Ireland needn’t be overly concerned as Brexit looms large over Europe. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has made an attempt to quash any lingering Irish fears, stating that Ireland is making contingency plans “in the unlikely event of a no-deal hard Brexit”. This may seem like a very relaxed attitude given the uncertainty surrounding Ireland’s position in this but also points to a new level of prosperity in Irish business and a certainty that we can hold our own in the European Union. There are even some whispers that this could be a very positive move for Irish trade and open us up to more opportunities than were available previously. It has however been suggested that it would be unwise for our Taoiseach to say too much in advance as there is no way of knowing the end result at this time.

This statement also shows a level of commitment to ensuring that no hard borders will spring up between the UK and Ireland which could damage Irish trade. This will be a crucial point of contention in the months ahead. As UK politicians battle to seek an alignment of ideals there is very little we can do on our side rather than take the traditional Irish standpoint of ‘prepare for the worst, hope for the best’.

Should you have any queries or require further information on this or any other business or financial matter please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA’s new head office, where as always we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

 

The Help To Buy Scheme for First Time Home Buyers

A Helping Hand onto an Elusive Ladder

We have spoken at length in the past about the multitudinous issues facing prospective first time home buyers in our current climate in Ireland. From saving deposits amidst paying skyrocketing rents, to being effectively written out of the narrative due to stricter borrowing rules and increasing home prices across the country. As a result it was recently reported that owning their own home has become more of a distant dream for many, rather than a feasible option for the future, with many saying that it would take them many years to save a deposit and even then they may not be able to afford the costs on current salaries. Rather than sticking with the unpopular opinions of recent months, of giving up avocado toast and living on your parents couch while asking for a loan of €30,000 we decided that today we would take a look at the more positive side of being a first time or prospective first time buyer. Believe it or not there are some options available to you out there, and we hope that access to these may make your dream more of a reality.

We all know about the all-important 10% deposit required to get your foot onto the first rung of the property ladder, as well as the additional funds required on top of these for legal costs etc. As mortgage relief is no longer an option, this all adds up quickly and when paired with every increasing house prices which don’t seem inclined to start falling any time soon, can lead to a number of hopeful buyers who simply cannot afford the costs. Whilst seeking a loan from a local authority may be an option for some, there is still the matter of a deposit to be raised and countless costs to be taken into account. The recent installation of the Help to Buy (HTB) Initiative may be a saving grace for some buyers, and has already helped many families find their new homes.

Essentially, the Help to Buy (HTB) scheme is an income tax rebate scheme now in place in order to help first time buyers buy new or self builds, and does not apply to second hand dwellings. This scheme allows buyers a rebate of their income tax paid over the previous 4 years as well as a refund of DIRT and will run until the end of 2019.

Naturally there are a number of stipulations on this as follows:

  • You must take out a mortgage of at least 70% of the cost of the property.
  • Applies only to properties costing €500,000 or less.
  • Applies only to new builds.
  • You must occupy the property for 5 years or more from the date it is habitable.
  • You must be fully tax compliant for the 4 years prior to your claim, complete a tax return form (Form 12) and pay any outstanding taxes that may be owed.
  • PAYE employees can apply using Revenue’s My Account system whilst self-assessed employees will apply through Revenue’s online system (ROS).

Should you have any queries or require further information on this or any other business or financial matter please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA’s new head office, where as always we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Should You Fix Your Mortgage Rate?

Keeping that Roof above Water

We have spoken recently about the struggles facing prospective homeowners and their long term range of effects on the market at large. Something we haven’t touched upon thus far is the struggles facing those who already have a foothold on the property ladder, existing homeowners currently holding a mortgage. Whilst this may seem like the ideal status for those struggling to buy their first home, there are of course issues which apply here that may not be considered.

It has been reported recently that homeowners could see a marked increase on their mortgage bills in years to come. This is due to the fact that European interest rates are set to begin to rise from 2019 to 2020 as the European Central Bank is expected to increase its main refinancing rate. Depending on the rate of mortgage and the loan size, this could see mortgage payments possibly increase by a couple of hundred euro.

These European interest rates have been at a stable low for many years, with many homeowners likely to not have experienced excessive rises in their time. In the atmosphere of uncertainty as we wait for the confirmation of these changing rates, what action can be taken either on new or old mortgages to limit the amount of damage to your pocket?

Fix it Up:       

A fixed rate mortgage can often seem like the most expensive option on the surface when choosing your mortgage, but can be quite the saving grace at times like these when rates are in flux as this option fixes your mortgage rate at one price for a certain period of time.

Whether choosing your mortgage or switching, a fixed rate might be the perfect option during these uncertain times and may offer you a slight buffer.

Pay, Pay, Pay:

Although it can be tempting when funds are low to take out further loans to replenish emptying pockets, this is likely to be damaging in the long run as your repayments begin to stack up. Instead of this, it is advisable to keep your mortgage payments up to date, and even overpay whenever possible in order to reduce your overall term.

In addition to this, clearing off any other debts you may have from loans or credit cards is advisable as the goal is to reduce your monthly repayments to as few as possible, with your mortgage being the ultimate priority. This will avoid you paying higher interest rates on other loans as well as your mortgage.

Should you be in a position of struggle when these rises come into play, be sure to discuss with your provider and solicitor options for restructuring your mortgage in order to avoid any long term issues.

Should you have any queries or require further information on this or any other business or financial matter please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA’s new head office, where as always we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Revenue Clampdown on Airbnb Income

Temporary Hosts – Permanent Fines

We have spoken at length about the so-called Revenue crack down, as Revenue continue to battle against evasion and fraud in all its forms. The latest to feel the Revenue wrath will be Airbnb hosts as Revenue have begun contacting hosts in writing regarding undeclared income.

Following on from the financial crisis, many individuals have sought additional income to offset the damage done by the crash. In addition, the ever-increasing cost of housing and cost of living we have recently discussed have left many with little option but to rent their properties out to cover costs and perhaps gain some additional income. Whilst this is a necessity for many, there has also grown over the past couple of years a penchant for the renovation of properties for use on short term rental sites such as Airbnb.

Airbnb can be a safe and convenient source of additional income for many, but has been seen as somewhat of a grey area for taxation purposes for some time, with many unaware of how to declare this income. Earlier this year it was announced that a number of Irish Airbnb hosts would be facing penalties due to a lack of awareness of how to declare their income from this source. It was revealed at the same time that quite a large number of hosts were not declaring the income as they may have been unaware of their requirement to do so. There are also a number of cost deductions which hosts are entitled to claim, but many were unaware of this also.

Luckily, Revenue have recently clarified this issue which will be valuable information for all of our clients and friends who are Airbnb hosts. In recently issued guidelines Revenue have stated the following in relation to Airbnb properties:

Rent a Room Relief can NOT be claimed on Airbnb lettings.

Airbnb lettings should NOT be treated as Case V rental income.

Airbnb lettings should in fact be treated as either:

  • Case I – Trading income for a property which is let frequently.

Or

  • Case IV – Miscellaneous income for lettings which are sporadic or occasional.

As Revenue continue to clamp down on evasion, non-declaration and general taxation issues, this is vital information for all Airbnb hosts in Ireland to be aware of going forward. As always we advise keeping thorough records and ensuring that you have all documentation to hand well in advance of your filing date.

Should you have any queries or require further information on this or any other business or financial matter please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA’s new head office, where as always we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

 

 

Knock Knock Knocking on Overpriced Doors

We have spoken many times in recent years about the difficulties faced by prospective home owners, whether they be first time buyers or otherwise. The mortgage rules currently in place in Ireland can no longer truly be called ‘new’, and are unlikely to be changed drastically but continue to place heavy restrictions on prospective buyers. Recent reports suggest that it may in fact be keeping many prospective buyers off the property ladder permanently, if not delaying the process by as much as a decade.

A large part of the issue seems to exist independently from the mortgage rules, while house prices have risen exponentially in recent years (and are forecast to continue to do so for at least three more years with the possibility of reaching a housing bubble due to lack of supply to meet demand), the cost of renting has followed suit, meaning that many prospective buyers find it increasingly difficult to save the required 10% deposit due to both rental costs and the overall cost of the house they wish to purchase placing increased pressure on the hopeful buyer. A recent report by Threshold has found that of those surveyed, less than a third are happy to be renting. 71% of those surveyed are currently renting due to not being able to afford a mortgage in the current market. Similarly, it was found that 96% of tenants have found it incredibly difficult to find appropriate and affordable rental accommodation due to the increasing costs which often see families spending between one third and one half of their take home pay on rent. Many tenants have been renting for in excess of five years due to the lack of other options available to them.

Chair of Threshold Dr. Aideen Hayden has been quoted as saying the following about the current rental crisis:

“A home is not just where you live, it is a place of sanctuary, offering protection from the stresses and strains of daily living. The current insecurity for tenants in the private rented sector means that they can’t look ahead and plan, they can’t put down roots.”

Whilst demand for housing strongly outweighs supply currently, it has recently been speculated by Savills that the trend in supply is turning upwards which may lead to a more balanced market by 2021, meaning that there is still space for some good news in the future for prospective buyers.

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