Taxation of Vacant Lots

The vacant site register has become a hot topic of conversation in recent months as many of Ireland’s development firms have begun to fight back against their inclusion on the list. This register was introduced in 2017 in an attempt to deter the hoarding of land in areas that could be utilised for housing development. As we have spoken about recently, housing supply is running low as prices continue to soar so naturally the hoarding of land has become somewhat of a bone of contention.

One issue that development companies are fighting here is the financial cost. Once added to the register, the local council can issue levies of up to 3% of the site’s market value to the owner. The owner will then have 28 days to appeal their inclusion on the list, and failing this, appeal to An Bord Pleanála. This can of course add up to quite significant levies being applied, leading to a number of development firms currently fighting against their local councils to appeal their inclusion on the register including housebuilding giant Glenveagh Properties and Ziggurat, a big name in the student housing business.

According to studies completed by Fora, 39 cases have been appealed to the Board since the beginning of 2017, with 11 having come to an official decision, and only 3 being granted their wish of being removed from the list while 8 were decided to be kept on. Two of the overturned cases related to land owned by the Office of Public Works wherein it was decided that residential properties would not be an agreeable outcome for these sites.

Whilst the effectiveness has been called into question with so few councils taking the land hoarding situation seriously and what was described by Goodbody economist Dermot O’Leary as a “lack of urgency” it seems that there is still room for improvement. Recently, The Minister for Finance has appointed international economic consultancy firm Indecon to complete an independent review of the issue and begin to inform a new government policy in this area. There is currently a period of public consultation until June 29th, so be sure to make your voice heard if you have something to add, or other concerns regarding the taxation of vacant property. This is also an opportunity to suggest alternative options, should you have any in mind.

With housing in such short supply and with these issues being at the forefront of the public mind, this is sure to be an ongoing battle and concern. Should you require any help, advice 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 happy to support you in getting your business to the next level.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Signs of continued Economic Improvement?

Hope is the thing with Euros.

Ever since the economic downturn, good news must be taken with a pinch of salt in terms of finances and the economy. Whilst we are somewhat used to the deluge of negative stories of ever increasing house prices as well as the general cost of living, we must also celebrate the good news, the positive stories and the numbers that inspire hope for the future of our small island’s finances. Particularly as more Brexit talks loom on the immediate horizon and there is a certain nervous and uncertain energy associated with the future, it is crucial to accept and celebrate whatever small victories are available to us at this time.

This month it was revealed that consumer spending has risen, which marks 14 months of continual growth for Ireland. Whilst the rise may not seem exponential, it is the fact that growth has been continuous for over a year that is important here for a country recovering from a severe crisis. This is vital as such sustained growth feeds into other aspects of the countries growth through fuelling job creation and boosting morale. The Visa Irish Consumer Spending Index suggests that payments of all kinds increased by almost 4% in April in comparison with the same time the previous year. This rise has been particularly evident in the area of online spending, which continues to soar.

This large spike in growth was in fact encouraged by March’s Storm Emma, which briefly dampened consumer activity and lead to a larger spike in April than expected. The unexpected snow storm meant that March saw a rise of only 1.5%. Some retailers have reported a decline in sales of up to 30% which has led to a lot of ground needing to be made up in the remaining months of the year for these retailers, many of which had to close their doors for a number of days due to the adverse weather conditions.

Whilst this increase is of course a move in the right direction for spending in Ireland, it is advisable to remain cautious as always as Visa have themselves reported that this level of growth “remains relatively subdued” perhaps due to the level of ground that needs to be made up following Storm Emma’s damaging effects. Cautiously optimistic may be the appropriate outlook for the coming months.

Should you require any help, advice 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 happy to support you in getting your business to the next level.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Data Protection, General Data Protection Regulation, EU, Law, GDPR

As the deluge of GDPR and “we have updated our privacy policy” emails begins to slow down somewhat and the dust settles on these new regulations thundering into our lives, and following on from our recent post, we thought it might be a good time to explore some of the key concepts associated with the new General Data Protection Regulations. In relation to GDPR, what are the rights of the individual and what constitutes a breach?

Two key terms that you will see time and time again in relation to the new regulations are Controller and Processor. Essentially, the organisation is the Controller who is responsible for deciding what data is processed and in what manner. The Controller is also responsible for ensuring compliance. The Processor on the other hand is the employee or individual who acts on the behalf of the Controller, and may generally be the person who deals with personal data on a day to day basis.

The below are the key rights of the individual in relation to their personal data:

  • The Right to be Informed – All individuals should be informed that their data is to be stored.
  • The Right of Access – Individuals should be able to request a viewing of the personal details held on them. The organisation has one month to comply with this request.
  • The Right to Rectification – Individuals are entitled to request changes to data that is incomplete or incorrect. Again, the organisation will have one month to comply.
  • The Right to Erasure – This is not an absolute right, in that it is not a guarantee, but the individual has the right to request all data be wiped on them.
  • The Right to Restrict Processing – The individual can request that processing be put on hold until they can verify accuracy.
  • The Right to Data Portability – The individual has the right to obtain and re-use their data across different devices. The information must be accessible to them.
  • The Right to Object – All individuals have the right to request that the organisation stop processing their data immediately, unless the data is proven to have legitimate contractual or legal basis to be stored and processed.

The issue with living in such a fast paced digital age is that data is always at risk of being breached and with these new regulations, a breach can result in a serious breach of human rights as well as a fine of up to €20m or 4% of annual turnover not to mention a loss of client confidence and damage to company reputation.

Interestingly, in terms of GDPR, access is not the only form of breach. A breach can take the form of an incorrect email or postal address resulting in details being sent to the wrong person, the destruction of personal data without consent, or the ultimate loss of the personal data whether digitally or manually. All changes made to personal data need to be consented to.

It is advisable to appoint a data protection officer for this role who is independent and able to report any incidences to the Board without interference. Should a serious data breach occur, the organisation has 72 hours to report it to the Data Protection Commission, and it is advised that everything be reported, even if there are only suspicions of a breach.

Should you require any help, advice 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 happy to support you in getting your business to the next level.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

GDPR: What does it Mean?

It would be impossible to have missed the impending GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) being implemented recently on 25/05/2018 as we are all flooded with emails regarding personal data and it became almost impossible to do anything without being informed of a changed privacy policy. This is all good news however as the GDPR will now mean that there are more strict standards across the board and create a new level of trust across a single digital economy. With these new standards and requirements now in place, there will be no grace period for companies to be eased in to the new standards due to the fact that the announcement was made in April 2016.We have briefly spoken about the GDPR before it came into effect and thought that today we would talk about some of the main changes and actions to be taken going forward.

The GDPR contains a much broader definition of what constitutes personal data than that which exists in the Irish Constitution. Now, personal data will be defined as any information relating to an identified or identifiable living person. For example, online identifiers now constitute personal data. The new rules will apply to both automated personal data and manual filing systems. The advice here is to encrypt all personal data to a good standard as even anonymous data can be included depending on the ease with which the data can be accessed and combined with other identifiers. All personal data which is stored will now need to be done only after confirming consent of the individual. Consent must be freely given, verifiable and confirmed through affirmative action. A pre-ticked box on a website will not legally constitute consent. The only situations in which it is permissible to share personal data without having consent will be in cases of national interest, or in the case of counselling services for children. A new definition within the GDPR is that of ‘sensitive personal data’. This is data such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, trade union memberships, religious beliefs or medical information. There are stricter rules in place for these forms of data, a higher standard of consent is required here.

Accountability is a key area in which the GDPR differs from previous regulation. Organisations are now required to demonstrate compliance with all GDPR principles. The best course of action is to take precautions to avoid a breach of regulations. When handling personal data take extra care with both standard and sensitive information. When asked to disclose any personal data be vigilant and ensure you identify the authority as legitimate.

Should you require any help, advice 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 happy to support you in getting your business to the next level.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Revenue’s New ‘Digital Transaction’ Tax

Tax for the Memories

Taxation is always a hot topic of conversation, particularly in recent months as Revenue have begun to clamp down on issues of taxation from non-filing and late filing to fraud. With Brexit continuing to cast a shadow of uncertainty over us here in Ireland, our focus moves more into Europe. Recently two new legislative proposals have been put forward by the EU Commission which could possibly have unforeseen consequences for Ireland.

These proposals relate to digital tax and aim to create a turnover-based tax in an attempt to provide both a long and short term solution for the treatment of digital tax transactions. Essentially, the proposals will involve a 3% tax on gross revenues of certain digital transactions based on the location of target customers, meaning that the targeted consumer area will be issued with a tax payment, creating a sort of symbiotic tax relationship between the country of origin and the country of consumption. An apparent win-win situation as both countries receive something positive whether a tax payment or the revenue from the endeavour itself.

To begin with, this will only apply to larger companies with turnover in excess of €750m worldwide, but it is hoped that in the longer term, these plans can apply to a wider range of companies. It has been suggested that the proposals are in direct contrast to the normal tax principles in that it applies to where customers are located as opposed to where the work actively takes place, and also doesn’t take into account whether the company is making any profits as it is generally based on gross revenues. It has also been suggested that it will be far more difficult to quantify as rather than the standard procedures, it will involve converting customer data and satisfaction into actual facts and figures for taxation purposes. This has been suggested as being somewhat damaging for the Irish market which has a long history of exporting. It has also been suggested that this could be damaging for Ireland as it somewhat diminished the value of our 12.5% tax rate as this digital tax becomes a cost for Irish companies. A reduction in the appeal of our tax rate could result in Ireland becoming a less attractive prospect.

It has also been suggested that these proposals could have adverse effects on competition and be economically damaging should these short term proposals be in place for longer than expected as a longer term solution is formulated. These proposals could potentially penalise smaller countries whilst rewarding larger, this would of course be damaging to Ireland. Perhaps the longer term solution will factor in the value both of the country of origin and the country of consumption, but both this and any adverse or positive effects remain to be seen.

Should you require any help, advice 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 happy to support you in getting your business to the next level.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Protect that Data

In light of recent revelations in terms of personal data in the realm of social media, data protection issues have become more of a common topic of conversation. New changes this month will ensure that these issues stay a hot topic. In April 2016, after a lengthy period of debate and preparation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was approved by the European Union Parliament. This new regulation is set to come into force on the 25th of May 2018 and any companies found to be non-compliant may face rather severe fines. With that in mind we want to ensure that all of our clients and friends are well informed so today we will be discussing the main topics of note ahead of this enforcement date.

In essence, the GDPR will replace the existing Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC and has been formulated in order to standardise data protection and privacy laws across Europe. The regulation is also intended to empower organisations to take data privacy increasingly seriously and to fully understand the impact this can have on a business.

Regardless of the location of your company, if you are an entity which offers goods, services or data exchanges to EU subjects then the GDPR will apply to your company. For our British neighbours, there exists a level of uncertainty with Brexit continuing to loom, for all businesses having dealings in data with the UK it would be advisable to apply the same rules to data coming to and from the UK as data staying within the EU. There will likely be legislation put in place which may stay in line with the GDPR but in order to avoid issues, it is advisable to treat non EU entities and their data in the same strict manner.

It is important for companies to make themselves aware of what actually constitutes personal data. In its most common form personal data is any information on an individual which could identify them. Anything from photos, bank details, addresses, certificates etc. can constitute as personal data for which there must be consent given for this information to be retained. If your company in any way deals with personal data, it is essential that new actions be taken to protect this data in the wake of these new rules.

Penalties for non-compliance can be as severe as fines of 4% of annual global turnover, with the most serious infringements carrying a maximum fine of €20million. There will of course be a tiered system in terms of infringements.

For further information, we recommend visiting the website of our friends at Chartered Accountants Ireland, where they have put together a concise and informative booklet which will discuss everything you need to know about the GDPR.

Should you require any help, advice 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 happy to support you in getting your business to the next level.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Revenue will no longer add charges for payments via Credit Cards

Re-Charging your Wallet

The convenience that comes with our current modern lives of being able to pay for and receive items immediately digitally as well as dealing with many or our transactions in a virtual manner does of course have its downsides. Whilst modern life has us all connected to each other at all times via our phones this does cause a new innate lack of face to face conversation and whilst being able to pay online using our cards is convenient, there is also the downside of so many hidden charges being applied to our accounts that we may not have accounted for in our budgeting.

There was good news in this regard earlier this month as it was announced that as of April 5th 2018, Revenue would no longer be adding charges for payments via credit card, whether these cards are personal, business or international. This will bring Ireland in line with new EU Rules enforced early this year which banned any surcharges on payment of tax liability. This charge could add as much as 2% onto the tax bill of those paying online. Revenue’s previous 1.1% charge was as a result of service provider charges, which will now be abolished for these payments.

Revenue have stated that this is in line with their focus on making it easier and more convenient for customers to do business online, which can only be a positive step in our busy digital modern lives, and one which we think will be of great benefit to all. Revenue have already taken steps to make online transactions easier with the upgrading of their MyAccount online service which takes the headache out of a great many tax issues and allows people to do most of their transactions from the comfort of their homes or offices, so we welcome any further changes that will ensure our clients and friends have clearer minds and fuller pockets at the end of the day.

Should you require any help, advice 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 happy to support you in getting your business to the next level.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Revenue – New Changes To Be Aware of

We have spoken at length in the past about the many ways in which Revenue are striving to make it easier and more convenient for people to deal with their tax transactions online, from a revamping of the MyAccount system to a reduction in fees and a strong clamp down on evasion using all the digital tools at their disposal there has never been a better or simpler time to file or query your tax transactions.

Next year (2019) there is set to be an overhauling and modernisation process in place for PAYE. Throughout the month, employers are due to receive letters from Revenue detailing their plans for PAYE Modernisation. This modernisation will result in real time PAYE reporting and is due to be officially put into place in January 2019. The letters will be tailored to the company’s requirements utilising Revenue records as there will be different categories of letter issued to ensure that companies receive the information most relevant to their business. Companies using payroll software or smaller companies will receive different information than those who do not use software, or larger companies for example. Employers will be asked to submit employee lists and relevant details regarding their employees to Revenue later this year in order to set the wheels of PAYE modernisation in motion.

In addition to this major overhaul, there will be many other changes made, this month a new PPS number checker will be available via the online services allowing up to 10 PPS numbers to be verified at a time using names and the given PPS number, this will certainly be a vital new service. Later in the year a number of changes will be made to the Revenue Online Services (ROS) dashboard, giving a new look and increased functionality to the system. There will be a new service for “Employer Payroll Services” and a new “favourites” option allowing easier access to most used options.

It is hoped that these new changes will increase the ease with which employers and business owner can process their dealings with Revenue and that the increased functionality of the website itself will limit any confusion or issues making life easier for both the employer and Revenue as it should limit late filing issues etc.

Should you require any help, advice 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 happy to support you in getting your business to the next level.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Finance options in wake of Brexit

Here at EcovisDCA our focus is always firmly on making life and business simpler for our clients and friends. We want you and your business to be a success just as you do and that all important work: life balance can sometimes only be achieved through the acceptance of a helping hand when in need. We have often spoken about funding options and opportunities available in order to either get your business off the ground or plan for an expansion and today we will be discussing a financing option with a twist: Growcap Finance.

Brexit is a word that has faded away into the middle distance somewhat in recent months after the term exploded into our general usage not too long ago. With Britain’s planned exit from the European Union still very much on the cards there is still some cause for concern for Irish businesses who may rely on foreign export or have had dealings with the UK. When engaging in global trade, one of the downsides for many business is the inevitable dealings with customs and VAT. Whilst many people sourcing goods may now look as far afield as China due to a newly improved quality of product, and lower pricing, there is always the issue of customs and VAT obligations when dealing outside the EU. It remains to be seen if Ireland will now face these issues in the future when dealing with goods from the UK once it is outside of the EU.

As a business owner it is your responsibility to ensure that any goods you have sourced from outside of the European Union get safely through the customs process and that the appropriate VAT is paid in full on entry. This can be quite a time consuming and painful process for business owners who have other issues to contend with as well as being an additional drain on vital cash flow to the business as VAT can add an extra 20 to 23% on to your existing payment. This is an issue especially for SMEs who may rely heavily on every penny of working capital available to them.

This is where Growcap Finance come in and can be of benefit to many businesses. Growcap Finance can assist you in funding your products sourced outside of the European Union, taking that additional headache away from you and freeing up some capital for your business. At present, Growcap can fund everything from the purchase price of the product to the logistics and VAT, while also ensuring that the product lives up to expectations before issuing payment. This may be an excellent option for businesses feeling the stress and headaches of dealing with VAT payments and shipments from outside the EU. It may also be a viable course of action in the event of a sudden Brexit.

Should you require any help, advice 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 happy to support you in getting your business to the next level.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

The Importance of Financial Management

As our small island continues to recover from the economic crisis, all eyes are of course fixed on the future. One aspect that is often overlooked however, is the future generation of entrepreneurs, investors, business owners and workers currently in school who will be at the helm of Ireland’s business and financial fortune in future years. We are sure that we do not want the next generation to repeat the same mistakes as their predecessors, but it seems that we are overlooking the ways in which we can provide safety and reassurance that they will not.

Recent research carried out by Empathy Research on behalf of Aviva Life Insurance has shown that many individuals (approximately one third of people) are continuing to pay dearly for the mistakes of the past, without implementing any new fail safe techniques in place to prevent future issues. It seems that though we may have learned from past mistakes, we are unclear how to buffer against them in the future. This research for Aviva has found that over half of Irish people have in fact had no education in the area of financial management, and this is a tradition that is being carried on to the next generation. Ann O’Keefe of Aviva’s Retail Life Insurance has said of the findings that:

“Making smart decisions when it comes to personal finances can have a major impact on your life both in the short term and in the longer term. In Aviva, we believe there’s a strong argument to be made for personal finance to be taught in secondary schools to equip young people with the knowledge and tools they need to make the best financial decisions in their later lives.”

The study also found that women may be likely to be more cautious in investments and financial decisions whilst men are twice as likely to be motivated to invest or save by the need to ensure the financial security of loved ones in the event of illness etc. This findings show a grave lacking in financial education which could protect the next generation from making similar mistakes in the future, as well as showing a gap in the market for strong financial planning courses to be made available to the current generation to enable them to understand the past and plan for the future to ensure that we create a strong financial landscape together.

Should you require any help, advice 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 happy to support you in getting your business to the next level.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY