News Archives - Page 5 of 224 - Pat Carroll PCCO - Chartered Accountants & Tax Advisors

Irish corporation tax faces new squeeze as OECD kicks off digital reform probe

Ireland’s corporation tax revenues are under threat as an international reform process kicks off in earnest.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is looking to change the way big technology companies are taxed.

It has now said it will consider moving to a system where companies will be taxed, at least in part, according to where users are based rather than where the company is based.

Ireland had opposed a similar plan at EU level, not least because a small population means it will reduce the tax take here – potentially hiking pressure to raise tax in other areas.

Corporation tax receipts have boomed here in recent years, putting the budget back into surplus. Losing those revenues would raise the prospect of having to borrow or raise other taxes to maintain spending.

“There’s a limited number of users in Ireland and [the proposal under consideration] would obviously benefit the much larger countries,” said Joe Tynan, head of tax and international tax partner at PwC Ireland.

“It kind of turns on its head everything that we’ve known before… if we were to tax Volkswagen based on where the cars were used I suspect you might find Germany wouldn’t be in favour of it.”

The OECD is a group of 36 countries of which Ireland is a member, alongside big economies like the US, Germany, Japan and the UK. Ireland has consistently said that the OECD is the correct venue for tax reforms, rather than the EU.

Though the process is not binding, for Ireland to refuse to implement a new system put in place would probably pose difficulties. If companies were being taxed one way in some of the bigger countries around the world, and another way in Ireland, that raises the prospect of ‘double taxation’, where companies are taxed twice for the same activities.

Given that the companies would want to continue selling their products to countries with big populations, Ireland could then see companies moving their tax residence out of here.

“The OECD’s going to go through a process, and we have tended to stick with the OECD,” Mr Tynan said. “If all those countries agree, because of our position as an international trading country we will have little choice but to sign it … it’s more than likely that we would feel obliged to sign up with that so that whether it’s a US company or a German company operating in Ireland, that they know what the rules are and there’s no double taxation.”

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe was in Davos last week trying to rally support for Ireland’s consistently expressed view that companies should not be taxed according to where users are based. In high-profile public appearances both he and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar faced harsh criticism about Ireland’s tax regime, highlighting the negative perception that some countries have about our system.

The OECD secretary general said the Apple case, whereby EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager found Ireland had given a ‘sweetheart’ deal to the iPhone maker, was an example of ‘gaming the system’. Both the Irish Government and Apple are appealing the ruling.

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Credit unions struggling to roll out scheme to compete with moneylenders, committee hears

THERE is no effective protection for vulnerable consumers from the activities of moneylenders, it was claimed.

The Oireachtas Finance Committee was told credit unions are struggling to roll out a scheme to compete with moneylenders because the State-designed scheme is loss-making and bureaucratic for them.

Just half of credit unions offer the ‘It Makes Sense Loans’ targeted at those on social welfare payments.

The scheme was put together by Government departments, credit unions and Social Finance Ireland to take on moneylenders, who have around 350,000 customers.

The credit union loans are approved quickly. They are short-term in nature, with loans available for a month, or two years.

There is a maximum interest rate of 12.7pc (annual percentage rate), compared with moneylenders that can charge up to 187pc, before collection charged are added in.

TDs and senators wanted to know why so few credit unions offer the personal micro loans.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh, of Sinn Féin, said just two credit unions offer the It Makes Sense Loans in Mayo.

Head of credit union policy at the Department of Finance Brian Corr said there were a number of reasons that not all credit unions were offering the loan scheme.

With interest rates credit unions can charge capped at 1pc a month, the scheme is a loss maker for the locally-owned lenders.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has proposed to allow credit unions to double the money interest rate they can charge.

Mr Corr said the higher rates are not a target and most credit unions would not increase rates.

He said the It Makes Sense Loan has an administrative cost and there are charges imposed, which make credit unions reluctant to offer them.

Chairman of the Credit Union Managers’ Association Tim Molan said credit unions were reluctant to embrace the scheme as they are competing against moneylenders which were not properly regulated.

“With moneylenders it is open season on the consumer. There is virtually no effective protection for people from moneylenders,” Mr Molan said.

He told the committee the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Code is not applied to moneylenders.

He said moneylenders were free to call to the doors of people a week after they get a It Makes Sense Loan from a credit union.

Mr Molan said there needs to be a holistic legal and consumer protection approach taken to tackle licensed moneylenders.

Ed Farrell of the Irish League of Credit Unions said the typical It Makes Sense loan was small, at around €500. He said there was a heavy administrative burden on credit unions issuing these small loans.

In the period from November 2015 to April last year just 7,500 It Makes Sense loans were drawn down. This works out at just 3,000 a year. This is ten times less than those issued by moneylenders.

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Illustrator behind new €2 Dáil centenary coin stamping his mark on SME market

The illustrator behind the special €2 coin marking the 100 years since the first sitting of the Dáil is establishing his stamp on the SME market.

The Central Bank of Ireland will mint one million of these new €2 coins for general circulation, their tiny decorated canvas featuring the words ‘An Chéad Dáil’, as the meeting took place entirely in Irish.

Emmet Mullins’ coin design – which depicts the first TDs in attendance at the landmark event – was launched at the Mansion House earlier this month by the bank’s governor Philip R. Lane, along with a commemorative €100 coin.

Mullins, who set up Brandish: An Advertising and Design Bureau, said he was “delighted to have had the opportunity to play a part in marking an event of such historical significance for Ireland”.

After two decades working with advertising and design agencies, Mullins went out on his own last May to provide an “end-to-end” service for his clients.

“I have three core values: reliability, value and creativity. We work closely with clients to set realistic time lines and goals which leads to more value collaboration.

“When I take on a job, I don’t have a big staff and all that flash that comes with agencies. That means lower overheads, and less of a cost that’s passed on to the client.

“A lot of businesses are in the forgotten middle, they want agency quality work but they might not have the budget. Even if the budget is there, it’s small in agency terms and might not get the full focus. That’s where I come in.”

The successful creative was also involved in the only other special circulating euro coin issued by the Central Bank, chosen after a public competition.

Four and a half million €2 coins to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising were released to general circulation in 2016.

“Winning the public competition to design the 1916 Centenary coin was an incredible honour; being asked back to design this new commemorative coin to mark 100 years since the first sitting of Dáil Éireann is a humbling endorsement of my work,” he said.

In 2015, Mullins also designed the cover for a rare seven inch Rolling Stones single, Dead Flowers, from the album ‘Sticky Fingers’.

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Bank of Ireland cuts some fixed mortgage rates, but increases others

LEADING mortgage lender Bank of Ireland has cut some of its short-term rates, but also increasing fixed rates for those who want to lock in for five years or more.

The bank has cut both the one and two-year fixed rates by 0.10pc to 2.9pc, effective from January 30.

This is the first time in recent years that Bank of Ireland mortgage rates have dropped below 3pc.

It follows a move last year by Ulster Bank to introduce a two-year fixed rate of as low as 2.3pc.

Bank of Ireland is also increasing its five-year and 10-year fixed rates, a move that reflects the fact that it expects European Central Bank rates to start moving up in the next year or so.

The interest rate for the bank’s five and 10-year rates is increasing by 0.20pc

The five-year fixed now will go to 3.2pc, the 10-year fixed is now 3.5pc for those with a loan to value up to 80pc, and 3.7pc above 80pc loan to value.

The new rates will apply to first-time borrowers, switchers and existing customers who are on variables. The bank has one of the highest variable rates in the market at 4.5pc.

The new rates will not impact on those already locked into a Bank of Ireland fixed rate.

Head of mortgages at the bank Brian Vaughan said nine out of 10 new owner occupier mortgage customers are opting for fixed rates.

The bank is also extending its 3pc cash-back offer until the end of this year.

Mr Vaughan said: “These new rates are available to new mortgage customers, to our existing mortgage customers on a variable rate and to customers coming to the end of a fixed rate period. Existing customers on a fixed rate will continue on their current rate until the end of their term.”

He said that up to now the bank had a flat 3pc rate across most of our fixed rates.

The changes are consistent with the medium term market expectations in relation to rates, he added.

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Brexit to cost us 55,000 jobs as May reneges on backstop

More than 50,000 jobs will be lost amid rising food and clothing prices if the UK continues on the path towards a disorderly Brexit.

Doomsday predictions on the impact of a no-deal scenario compiled by the Department of Finance suggest the economic impact will be “particularly severe”. The agriculture sector and small businesses who export to the UK will begin to shed employees during the second half of the year, followed by a “deepening” of the crisis in 2020.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “In 10 or 12 weeks’ time, we could find ourselves needing to find a lot of money to save people’s jobs because there are people working in the food industry, in agriculture, SMEs, and in small exporters, whose jobs may be under threat.”

Capital projects such as the Metro could also be in danger while promises of income tax cuts will be reviewed ahead of the next budget.

A majority of British politicians last night voted for Theresa May to formally demand a new deal on the Irish backstop – despite continued insistence from the EU that the Withdrawal Agreement cannot be renegotiated.

The move was met with fury in Dublin where ministers feel betrayed. One senior Government source told the Irish Independent: “Theresa May just tried to torch the deal we all spent two years working on, and contradicted what she herself said about owing Northern Ireland the backstop as the only non-aspirational way to avoid a hard Border.”

Until recent days, Mrs May always maintained that the deal she agreed with the EU in November was the best one possible. However, she has now backed calls for the backstop to be replaced with undefined “alternative arrangements”.

Adding further confusion to the UK position, MPs also passed a motion to “reject leaving the EU without a deal”.

Mrs May will now go to Brussels to demand “legally binding changes to the Withdrawal Agreement”.

A spokesperson for EU Council President Donald Tusk immediately responded by saying the deal “is not open for renegotiation”.

In a statement, the Irish Government echoed that message. It said the backstop “balances the UK position on customs and the single market with avoiding a hard Border”.

“A change in the UK red lines could lead to a change in the Political Declaration on the framework for the future relationship, and a better overall outcome,” it added.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said it was very difficult to accurately predict the full scale of the risks a cliff-edge Brexit brings. He said food shortages will not be an issue because of the high level of produce which originates in Ireland.

However, the economy would be 4.25pc smaller in 2023 than currently projected. Mr Donohoe said this figure “hides an even larger hit to economic activity in labour-intensive sectors such as agri-food and indigenous small and medium-sized enterprises”.

Current forecasts expect an unemployment rate of 5pc by 2023, but a no-deal Brexit would push that up by two percentage points. A projection that 2.49 million people would be in jobs here by 2023 falls to 2.44 million under the departmental analysis.

“Employment growth would still take place in our economy, but we will have 55,000 fewer citizens working than we would’ve had, had an orderly Brexit and transition period taken place,” Mr Donohoe said.

The minister added large employers do still see positive prospects for jobs and investments in Ireland, however among smaller companies that have to manage their own supply chains into the UK, the level of concern is growing.

“It is important to emphasise that we do have an economy still capable of delivering growth,” he said.

However, every household would see their disposable income reduced as the price of food and clothing rises.

John McCarthy, Chief Economist at the Department of Finance, said many high street chain stores are likely to be affected as around one quarter of imports come from the UK.

The Government has ruled out an emergency budget in the coming months but admit that plans for 2020 and beyond may have to be scaled back. Asked about promised tax cuts, Mr Donohoe said his objectives remain the same.

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Rise in total value of new mortgages drawn down in 2018 – BPFI

The total value of new mortgages drawn down last year rose by nearly a fifth compared to the previous year.

However, the data released by the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) also shows that the volume of mortgages approved in December fell sharply compared to November.

The BPFI Mortgage Drawdowns Report for the fourth quarter shows 12,112 new loans worth €2.6bn were drawn down during the three months, up 18.2% in value on the same period in 2017.

The largest section of the market remains first-time buyers, who borrowed 48% of the total amount during the quarter.

Looking at the year as a whole, €8.722bn was borrowed over the 12 months, up 19.7% in value terms compared to 2017.

In total, this amounted to 40,023 individual loans, a 15.5% rise on the year before.

But while the property lending market appeared on the face of it to be continuing its recovery, the volume of approvals took a nosedive at the end of the year.

In December, 2,908 mortgages were approved, representing a 29% reduction on the November figure, although year on year the volume rose by 5.9%.

The collective value of those approvals was €656m, with First Time Buyers accounting for almost half of the total.

Year on year the overall value of those loans was down by nearly 27% compared to November.

The BPFI said the dip in approvals at the end of the year was largely due to seasonal factors.

But it added that the indications are that 2019 will see continued growth in mortgage drawdown activity.

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Economy could be 4.25% smaller in hard Brexit scenario – Department of Finance

The size of the Irish economy could be 4.25% smaller than current projections over the medium term if there is a hard Brexit, according to an assessment by the Department of Finance.

The department forecasts show that unemployment could rise by up to 2 percentage points in such a scenario.

A small surplus projected for next year would also turn to a deficit if there’s a disorderly Brexit, the analysis finds.

“The assessment by my Department shows that a disorderly exit would be particularly severe,” Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe said. “The level of economic activity will be around 4.25 percentage points lower than our existing trajectory over the medium-term. This aggregate figure hides an even larger hit to economic activity in labour-intensive sectors such as agri-food and indigenous small and medium-sized enterprises.”

The department says the risk of a disorderly Brexit has increased in recent weeks, although it claims an orderly exit remains the most likely outcome.

It says the most adverse impacts would be most likely felt in agri-food and manufacturing sectors.

The forecasts show that if a hard Brexit takes place, Irish GDP could be 6% lower than it would have been relative to a ‘no-Brexit’ scenario.

The Exchequer would also see a broadly balanced budget this year turn to a deficit of 0.2%, and from a surplus of 0.3% to a deficit of 0.5% next year.

Minister Donohoe said the forecasts were based on the best models and information available.

But he said it was a particularly challenging process given that the UK exit from the EU is an unprecedented event.

“Given Ireland’s unique macroeconomic and sectoral exposures to the UK these impacts would be disproportionate relative to the rest of the EU,” he said.

“It is important to recognise that such estimates may not capture the full impact, and the figures may be conservative. Nevertheless, quantifying the impact is important to help Government understand the possible macroeconomic implications and to design the appropriate policy response.”

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Can I inherit my parents’ home tax-free?

Query: My husband, daughter and I live with my elderly parents in my parents’ primary residence. We have lived here for 18 months and I do not own any other properties. Can I inherit my parents’ primary residence tax-free in 18 months (that is, after three years of us living here) while my parents are still alive? Caroline, Co Dublin.

Answer: An inheritance can only be received on death, while a gift is received at any other time.

If you receive your parents’ primary residence while your parents are still alive, you would be receiving a gift from your parents. This gift would be subject to Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) at a rate of 33pc. There is a lifetime inheritance threshold limit of €320,000 which you can receive from your parents tax-free.

Assuming that no other gifts have previously been received from them, you will pay CAT on the value of the property at the date of gift – less the current lifetime threshold of €320,000.

So, you can be gifted a property worth up to €320,000 from your parents tax-free – as long as you have not received any other gifts or inheritances from them over your lifetime.

If the property is received as an inheritance on your parents’ death, there is an exemption from CAT referred to as the dwelling house exemption. This exemption will apply if you have lived in the property for the three years immediately prior to the inheritance, continue to live in the property for six years after the inheritance, and have no beneficial interest in any other residential property.

Based on your question, you would be able to inherit the property tax-free if your parents bequeath their house to you in their will. If the dwelling house exemption applies to your inheritance, the value of the house is also ignored in calculating tax on any other inheritance received by you from your parents. For example, if you receive the house and €300,000 cash in your parents’ wills, and assuming you have received no lifetime gifts from them, no CAT would be payable by you as the value of the house is ignored and the cash inheritance is less than the €320,000 threshold which applies for gifts and inheritances received by a child from a parent.

The dwelling house exemption does not apply in cases of a gift except where the gift is given to a dependent relative – that is, a relative who is permanently incapacitated due to mental or physical infirmity or who is 65 years or over.

In such a case, the CAT exemption will apply as if it is an inheritance.

Donor taxes on inheritance
Query: As a parent passing on an inheritance to my children, will I be subject to any taxes (other than my normal taxes) on my estate before it is distributed to my children? Tadhg, Co Wicklow

Answer: For deaths which occurred between June 18, 1993 and December 6, 2001; a probate tax of 2pc was levied on the value of the estate of the deceased person. This tax was abolished by Finance Act 2001 and is no longer applicable.

Currently, the first step in the administration of your estate will be to settle any outstanding tax issues from before your date of death.

The personal representative of your estate will take over responsibility for ensuring that any pre-death taxes are paid, such as income tax and Capital Gains Tax (CGT). Where you were filing income tax returns, the personal representative will be responsible for preparing and submitting the relevant return to the Revenue Commissioners. The tax due can be funded from your estate assets. Any income arising after the date of death is income of the estate. The second step in the administration of your estate will be to prepare income tax returns for the estate and discharge any tax liabilities as they arise. All income is currently taxed at the standard rate of tax 20pc.

When income is distributed to your children, they can claim a deduction for any income tax paid by the personal representatives of your estate. For example, where dividend income in the estate has been taxed, when your children inherit the dividends and are due to pay income tax on this income, your children can take a deduction for income tax already paid through the estate.

Another point to note is that there is no CGT on death. On the passing of your estate to your children, any assets within the estate will be revalued at the date of death. This is the value which is then used as the base cost on any future sale of the assets. For example, let’s say your estate includes a holiday home in Cork which you bought for €200,000 a number of years ago.

On your death, this property is valued at €300,000. There is no CGT due on the uplift in value of €100,000 – a saving of €33,333.

In relation to any future sale of the property (after your death), the base cost for the purpose of any tax returns will be €300,000.

Your children will be subject to Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) at a rate of 33pc on the benefit received when inheriting your estate. However, there is provision for a tax-free threshold below which no tax is paid. The level of tax-free threshold depends on the relationship between the person giving the benefit and the person receiving it. Where a parent leaves an inheritance to a child, the tax-free threshold is currently €320,000. Therefore, when your estate is distributed to each of your children, they will each be entitled to a tax free amount of €320,000. This threshold is a lifetime limit and any previous gifts to your children since December 5, 1991 must be taken into account. The valuation date of the inheritance will determine when your children will be due to complete the CAT return and pay the tax.

If the valuation date falls between January 1 and August 31, your children must pay any CAT due by October 31 of that year. Where the valuation date falls between September 1 and December 31, any CAT due must be paid by October 31 of the
following year.

Unfair stamp duty
Query: I recently bought a first-floor office space which is in a mixed commercial and residential building in a provincial town. Before I committed to the purchase, I enquired from the local authority regarding the planning permission required for change of use from commercial to residential and its response was encouraging. Following my purchase, I was charged the 6pc commercial stamp duty rate although it was always my intention to live in the apartment when converted. I feel this is unfair and a disincentive to people who wish to convert vacant commercial property to residential. Can I appeal this stamp duty rate? Manus, Co Donegal

Answer: The rate of stamp duty chargeable on the acquisition of a property is linked to the rating system designed by local authorities. Where a property has been rated as a commercial property in the year ending December 31 prior to the purchase of the property, the property will not be regarded as residential property for stamp duty purposes. So, if you purchased the property in 2018 and the property was categorised as a commercial property on December 31, 2017, the 6pc stamp duty rate paid by you is correct.

There may be an opportunity to reduce the stamp duty rate to 2pc and receive a refund of the balance under the provision of Section 83D Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999. This refund is available where you purchase land (which would include a first floor office) after October 11, 2017; start construction of a residential unit within 30 months of acquisition; and meet certain other conditions.

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Cost of international stamp to rise to €1.70

An Post has announced a rise in the price of an international stamp as well as increased prices for some large envelopes and parcels.

But the cost of a stamp for sending a letter or card in Ireland is staying at €1, An Post said.

An Post said its rates are in line with comparable tariffs across Europe.

The new rates will come into operation on Monday February 25.

In a statement today, An Post said that rates for large envelopes, packets and some parcels within Ireland are increasing by an average of 5.9%. However some postage rates will fall.

International postal rates are increasing by an average of 7% with the cost of sending an international letter increasing from €1.50 to €1.70.

An Post also said there will be no changes at this time to the rates for its bulk mail discount services for large volume mailers.

However, within the next few months, it said it will introduce new bulk mail discount services to better serve the changing needs of customers.

It also said that the price of its Redirection service, which is used by people moving address, is being reduced “significantly” with the introduction of a one-month service option.

The company’s MailMinder rates are also being reduced to encourage customers to have all their post stored securely at the local delivery unit while they are away on holidays.

“The increases in rates for international postage and larger items are reflective of the increasing costs of sending mail items worldwide and of delivering to every home and business in Ireland every working day”, commented Garrett Bridgeman, Managing Director of Mails & Parcels at An Post.

He said that where rates are being increased, the level of increase has been kept to the absolute minimum and against a backdrop where there has been decline of almost 50% in transactional mail over the past decade.

“The increases are being implemented in conjunction with a major business transformation and cost reduction programme encompassing every part of An Post and our policy of fair, cost-reflective and simplified pricing for products and services,” he added.

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Revolut to launch mobile bank app for children to improve their ‘financial literacy’

Revolut’s alternative banking services already appeals to more than 200,000 Irish users – but now the fintech is looking to expand its target market.

The London-based fintech’s latest move allows its existing customers to add their children to their account as a secondary user.

Through the Revolut Youth app, children can choose their own card and start using the company’s current account and money management platform.

Revolut, which helps customers manage their finances through a mobile app, has grown rapidly since it launched four years ago.

It allows its 3.8 million customers to transfer money abroad with the real exchange rate, and has since expanded its offering into business accounts.

Last month, it took the first step to bringing its full current account service here after securing a European banking licence in Lithuania.

The company said the Youth app, which is set to launch later this year, is aimed at improving the financial literacy of children.

“We believe that taking control over your finances is a lifetime of work, and starting to learn about financial literacy and how to manage your money is vital from a young age,” said a company spokesperson.

“The long-term goal is focused on allowing children to earn the trust to have more financial freedom. This means promoting financial literacy”.

Initially, the app will be for children over seven years old, with another version for teenagers around 16 years old.

Parents retain control over their children’s account, manage pocket money and view their transactions.

In December, Revolut secured licences to launch its digital banking offering in Singapore and Japan, as it announced plans to also expand in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Launched in 2015, Revolut’s initial draw for customers was the ability to spend and transfer money abroad with the real exchange rate.

Since then, additional features include the ability to buy and sell exposure to cryptocurrencies and a savings function ‘Vaults’.

Revolut has so far raised $336m from investors including DST Global, Index Ventures, Balderton Capital and Draper Esprit.

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