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How to ensure your Christmas donations are put to best use

Don’t let recent scandals put you off contributing to Irish charities – but do your research so your money goes to the right place.

The run-up to Christmas is traditionally a time when many of us give to charity. Scandals in the charity sector in recent years – where a few organisations breached public trust – have damaged the reputation of charities and many have seen a drop in donations as a result.
There are still plenty of deserving Irish charities which are worthy of your donations though – and there are still many people in desperate situations in need of the help which Irish charities give. Here are a few simple steps which you can take to ensure that any money you donate this Christmas goes to good use.
Check the register

Before giving money to a charity, check that it is regulated. The Charities Regulator was set up three years ago and all Irish charities must register with it. There is a public register on the regulator’s website which you can check to find out if a charity is regulated; otherwise, you could ring the regulator directly.

Once a charity is registered with the regulator, it will have a registered charity number (RCN) and charities will usually have that number on display when fundraising. If not, ask the fundraiser or charity for their RCN. Should the charity claim to be regulated, but refuse or be reluctant to disclose its RCN, this could indicate that the charity or fundraiser is not above board – so be wary about donating in such instances.
Not all fundraising groups, such as your local GAA or athletics club, need to be regulated by the charity regulator or to have an RCN. So don’t assume that something is amiss just because a fundraising group isn’t on the register.

“If you look up the register and a charity isn’t on it, ask legitimate questions as to why the charity is not on the register,” said Deirdre Garvey, chief executive of The Wheel, which represents charities, and community and voluntary groups. “If the organisation collecting isn’t on the register, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything bad – there are plenty of sporting organisations and non-profit organisations who also do fundraising.”
Check the finances

Before donating to charity, get a sense of what the charity spends its money on – and how well it manages its finances. Well-established charities often publish their financial accounts on their website and such accounts typically outline what the charity has spent its money on, the number of people who have used the charity’s services, and the amount of money spent on wages, salaries, administration and other costs. The salary of the charity’s chief executive may also be disclosed.

John Farrelly, chief executive of the Charities Regulator, advises people not to allow administration or running costs to discourage them from donating to a charity. “There is a cost in setting up an office for a charity,” said Farrelly. “An office will have lighting and heating costs. Animal charities, for example, need money to provide for vet fees and heating. These are the real costs of running a charity.”

Go for transparency

When choosing a charity to donate to, pick one which is transparent about its finances and activities. “Ask yourself if the charity’s description of what it does makes sense,” said Garvey. “Find out too if the charity has signed up to governance codes, such as the Regulator’s fundraising code.”

It can be hard to thoroughly research a street or door-to-door collector before giving a donation. However, there are a few things which you should quickly check before handing over money or bank account details.
“The person collecting should be able to show their registered charity number and tell you about what the charity does,” says Farrelly. “If the person is collecting cash, they should be using sealed bins or boxes. If a collector is calling to your home, they shouldn’t be calling at the wrong time of the day. A registered charity won’t call to your home at night. Go with your gut instinct.”

Christmas cards

Charity Christmas cards are popular but as little as a tenth of the price of a pack can go to charity – so do your research before choosing your cards.
In the run-up to Christmas, there are charity Christmas cards on sale from a stand in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin and from the offices of the Children’s Medical & Research Foundation (CMRF), which raises money to help sick children in the hospital. All profits made from the sale of these cards goes to the CMRF. You can also buy CMRF cards online (www.cmrf.org) and from Easons but in these cases, the amount donated to the charity varies and is usually not the full amount that you spend on the pack.

The full amount raised from the sale of Barnardo’s charity cards goes directly to the charity, according to a spokeswoman for the charity. Barnardo’s Christmas cards can be bought through its online shop (barnardos.ie). The full amount raised from the sale of Trocaire Christmas cards also goes directly to the charity as long as you buy the cards from Trocaire centres in Dublin, Cork and Belfast or from Veritas stores. Trocaire Christmas cards are also for sale in a number of Eason stores and should you buy the cards in Easons, half of the profit goes to the charity, according to a Trocaire spokeswoman.
With Oxfam’s Christmas cards, 70pc of the price of the pack is spent directly on the charity’s work with the remaining 30pc spent on printing and distribution cards. You can buy Oxfam charity cards from most Oxfam stores.

The animal charity, Paws Animal Rescue, sells its charity Christmas cards for €7 a pack. “We pay €3.13 [for a pack] and sell for €7 so the charity gets 100pc of the €3.86 profit,” said Gina Hetherington, co-founder of Paws. The Paws cards are available online (paws.ie) and in the Paws charity shop in Clonmel, Co Tipperary.
MS Ireland, which supports people affected by multiple sclerosis, sells Christmas cards from its website (ms-society.ie), its head office on Northumberland Road, Dublin and from the MS care centre in Rathgar. A pack of 10 cards costs €6 and about 60pc of the amount raised goes to the charity, with the remainder covering the costs of the cards.

“Each pack costs MS Ireland €2.45 to produce including design, package and delivery,” said a spokeswoman for the charity. “The remaining €3.55 goes directly back to MS Ireland supporting the MS care centre and vital services for people living with multiple sclerosis.”

Remember should you order cards online from a charity, you must also usually pay for postage and postage can be expensive.
The charity Christmas cards on sale in Debenhams support Make A Wish Ireland, which helps children with life-threatening medical conditions. With most of these cards, a fifth of the sale proceeds goes to charity. However, there is one style of card for sale where the full profits made go to the charity. Next donates 15pc of the sales proceeds from its charity Christmas cards to a number of charities including the British Heart Foundation and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Should you buy your charity Christmas cards in Arnotts or Boots, a tenth of the price of the pack goes to charity. Arnotts stocks Christmas cards for the Irish Cancer Society, Irish Hospice Foundation and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin. The charity cards sold in Boots raise money for the Irish Cancer Society.

This year, Marks & Spencer has committed to donating €15,000 from the sale of its charity Christmas cards to the Marie Keating Foundation – rather than making a donation based on the percentage of sale proceeds from the cards.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

Pure Telecom focused on making real connection with customers

Pure Telecom is a wholly owned Irish telecoms company that provides fixed line, broadband and cloud telecoms to the business and consumer markets.

Set up in 2002 by Paul Connell and Alan McGonnell and located in City West Business Campus, the company employs 100 staff and has annual revenues of more than €20m.
“We differentiate ourselves by providing a personal, flexible, lower cost and dependable service designed around the unique needs of our customers who include everyone from consumers and startups to large pharmaceutical clients,” says Paul.
The company has successfully grown its customer base to more than 50,000 customers of which 20pc are businesses and 80pc are consumers.

“Continuous investment in the most up-to-date contact centre systems, as well as a focus on rapid customer service reaction times and reduced downtimes for customers, has helped ensure we have a high customer retention rate,” says Paul.
Paul grew up in Churchtown in Dublin. His father ran his own engineering business and he recalls many summer holidays spent learning to fit and weld. As a teenager – and keen to earn his own money – Paul engaged in everything from golf caddying to selling miniature Christmas trees door-to-door.

He went on to complete a degree in business studies at the College of Commerce, Rathmines, before joining accounting firm, BDO Simpson Xavier in 1991 where he qualified as a chartered accountant. He later left to join Iretex Packaging as group financial controller in 1995 and was involved in having the company listed on the London Stock Exchange.
“By 1998 the printing and packaging sector had hit a bit of a downturn so I decided to take a job as financial director of a US multinational telecoms company, Global Telesystems (GTS) which had a base in Cork. While I sort of fell in to the world of telecoms, it was here that I first got to know Alan,” says Paul. “Alan had grown up in south Dublin and went to Terenure College before studying law in UCD. Having initially joined a large Dublin law firm, he quickly realised it wasn’t for him and moved to a sales role in GTS before eventually becoming the company’s commercial director,” he adds.

Having spotted what they saw was an opening in the market to provide broadband and fixed line services to Irish corporates and SMEs, the pair joined forces and in 2002 set up Pure Telecom.

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“Putting our entrepreneurial brains together and drawing on our combined experience in the telecoms industry, we saw this as a potentially recession-proof business model. Starting out with four staff in a small office in Ranelagh, we had moved from having the plush corporate office environment to where we were now – drawing lots for whose job it was to clean the toilets and tidy the office,” says Paul.

“We spent our days calling prospective customers directly and attending sales meetings – gradually winning business as we went along. Within about 12 months we realised that we were on the right track.”
Acquiring new customers is always the first challenge for any new business and especially for a reseller of telecoms services. However, as they secured their first customers, Paul and Alan used testimonials from these satisfied customers to help land further business. Having initially focused on the corporate market, the pair later diversified into the consumer market following the acquisition of a company called Newtel, in 2007.

Today they have more than 50,000 customers and earlier this year announced a €1.8m investment in a further 32 new jobs.
“I simply love this business,” says Paul. “Our customers are our assets and our focus is always on looking after them. Whether they are businesses or consumers, everyone is looking for faster speeds and a better customer experience,” he says.

He believes that a key element to the company’s success is the relationship and spirit of teamwork that exists between himself and Alan as well as their shared drive to make the business the best it can be.
“We’re both working from the same page all the time when it comes to the business and the direction in which it is going. Our desks face each other in the same office so that we can make quick, impactful decisions that ensure that we are always pushing boundaries, rather than reacting to what is happening around us,” he says.

Supported by a strong management team and a deeply committed staff, Paul Connell and Alan McGonnell look set to achieve their goal of reaching a target of 100,000 customers and a turnover of €40m within the next three years.
Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

Alan O’Neill: Scaling up your organisation needs leaders with strategic vision

One in four children in Ireland has a special educational need. A lack of affordable private services means that too many children are struggling to reach their full potential.

The waiting list for public occupational therapy services can take up to two years.
Given that early intervention with a child is critical, that’s just too long to wait.

Because Karen Leigh had experienced these challenges within her own family, she founded Sensational Kids in Kildare town in 2007 to bridge the gap.
Sensational Kids now employs a team of 21. This includes a skilled clinical team of dedicated professionals committed to supporting children of all abilities.

Revenue comes from selling educational toys in their online store, running educational workshops for teachers, parents and therapists, and – of course – fundraising activities.
This income enables them to provide clinical services to families at a heavily-subsidised rate. Since it was formed, 4,500 children have received support.

Now a registered charity, I was privileged to spend a few years as the company chairman. I was always impressed with the ethos, the concern and the genuine desire to support families.

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The unfortunate noise in the charity sector in recent times has now compelled voluntary boards of directors everywhere to be even more transparent in all dealings.

Adherence to the Governance Code is essential, which of course is right and proper. Sensational Kids is on the journey towards full compliance with that.
Recent Challenges

Over the years, the charity has been supporting families from all over Ireland. The ambition now is reach out and be “the leading, innovative, child development social enterprise in Ireland”.

That means opening more centres.
Fortunately, the Dormant Accounts Fund has recently earmarked a grant of €45,000 to open a new centre in Clonakilty to service the Munster region.

And the Community Foundation for Ireland is providing €60,000 for a centre in the Connacht region.
But the challenge now is to scale up in quite a short time frame, and move from being a local service to a national one.

Finding qualified therapists is one part of the challenge. The bigger issue is how to build further on a great brand reputation and culture, and achieve consistency in quality of service across all sites.
Change tips

Sensational Kids is a classic founder-led SME. Karen’s passion and imprint has an impact on all facets of the company. Previously a manager of a contact centre, she has had to grow with Sensational Kids over the years.

Transition from manager to leader

Being so operational is not an option going forward. There are only so many hours in a day and Karen can’t be in all three sites at the same time. Standards would slip and targets would be missed.

Picture a pyramid and you will see that Karen has to step up to the next level. Letting go of some tasks and transitioning from manager to leader is essential.
Managers focus on the day-to-day operational tasks, getting things done in line with targets.

But leadership is about setting the strategic agenda for the longer term, being a custodian of the heritage, the vision and the culture, and role modelling the behaviours that support all of that.

As leader, Karen should also have more time to coach and mentor the teams.
Get the structure right

Because plans are already in place for the new sites, it’s time to think about the best structure to deliver the new business model. The added advantage here is that it provides opportunities for current people to step up, grow and progress in the company.

The next task is to specify what each job role entails. This means writing role guides that outline clearly and unambiguously the key responsibilities, reporting lines, tasks and measures of success. It should also detail the competencies required for each role.

Select the right people

Once that is all defined, the next phase is to find the best fit, ie the right people for the right role.
The good fortune here is that there is great talent in the existing team. Before going to the wider market, they will be given every chance to advance in the new structure.

Train so your people stay

When people are hired into a role, it will take time for them to maximise their performance.

You can do that the slow and potentially painful way through learning by discovery, or you can speed it up in a structured way through training. Whatever way you deliver that training will be determined by your time and resources. In my experience, training sets them up for success rather than failure.
Summary

Scaling up is a big step for any organisation. Having the cash to invest in such growth is great but there is so much more to expansion than that. Quality planning plays a big part.

Shaping the key roles is essential. Getting the structure right and having the right people that are willing and able to deliver that plan, will significantly improve the chances of success.

Alan O’Neill is a change consultant and non-executive director. For 25-plus years he has been supporting global and iconic brands through change. Alan-oneill.com. Business advice questions for Alan can be sent to sundaybusiness@independent.ie

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

Apple agrees to start paying €13bn tax bill early 2018 – a year after deadline

Apple is expected to start paying up to €13bn in back taxes into an escrow account in the first quarter of 2018, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said.

“We have now reached agreement with Apple in relation to the principles and operation of the escrow fund,”Mr Donohoe told reporters before a meeting with European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
“We expect the money will begin to be transmitted into the account from Apple across the first quarter of next year.”

It is understood that the account will be up and functioning by the end of March.
The European Commission said the record sum was the result of Apple receiving unfair tax incentives from Ireland.

More than a year after the EU ordered it repaid, Ireland’s slow pace in recovering the money has landed it in court.
Ireland is now seeking an investment manager and a custodian to operate the account and expects to appoint both next month.

Both Dublin and Apple have challenged the EU order.
Last month, Ms Vestager said she had been given “no indication” of when Ireland will begin to collect the €13bn from Apple.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

Consumers advised to ‘review before you renew’ health insurance as part of new campaign

A new campaign has been launched to encourage health insurance policy holders to review their existing plan before renewal.

The Health Insurance Authority (HIA) has introduced ‘Review before you renew’ which kicks off today across print, radio, TV and digital.
Some 2,166,000 people were insured with inpatient health insurance plans at the end of September 2017, an increase of 26,000 over the past 12 months. This represents 45.1pc of the population on these plans, based on CSO population estimates.

However, according to HIA research, only 24pc of those insured in Ireland have switched policies or insurance providers.
“Over the next month as people begin to look forward to Christmas, policy renewal notifications will arrive, and with average premiums in 2017 at €1,177 per person, health insurance is a significant annual cost for any individual or family,” CEO, Don Gallagher said.

“We recognise consumers are hesitant to switch…but there are real benefits to reviewing current cover before renewing.”

The HIA is advising consumers that many plans offer similar benefits at a lower premium and that they should check their cover upon renewal and discuss alternatives with their provider.
“If consumers have not reviewed their health insurance over the last number of years, it is possible that they’re currently over- insured and over- paying,” he said.

“There are a large number of products available and, very often, these products provide similar levels of cover at different prices. For anyone looking to make significant savings on their health insurance, we strongly recommend they visit our website to review their current health insurance policy and pick the best value plan suitable for their needs.”
A health insurance comparison tool is available on the HIA website at www.hia.ie or www.healthinsurancecomparison.ie which shows every plan on the market and their prices and benefits.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

How to rival Dublin’s tech scene

How should places outside Dublin compete for tech investment? This continues to be a big issue. Dublin soars, others struggle.

So what should smaller towns do? Here are the factors that count when building a regional tech ecosystem.
1. The importance of local champions

You can have all the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, task forces and cross-political support you can muster. But if you don’t have at least one or two local burghers who relentlessly drive everything on, including events and infrastructure development, it’s an uphill task to gather investment.

John Breslin (of NUI Galway) has been a stalwart in driving Galway’s tech ecosystem forward, as have other individuals like Altocloud co-founder Barry O’Sullivan, ExOrdo boss Paul Killoran, OnePageCRM founder Mic Fitzgerald and Priviti Group’s Dave Cunningham.
In Skibbereen, SuperValu owner John Field provided a central building so that the small town could develop a tech hub called Ludgate. (Glen Dimplex president Sean O’Driscoll, a local, was also instrumental in putting up finance.) That facility is now flying with lots of tech startups and growing interest from investors. Small communities in counties such as Kerry are on the map because of outspoken voices such as Stockbyte founder Jerry Kennelly.

For those who reach for the sky, big things can happen. Paddy Cosgrave sold Dublin as a story to an international technology audience. He did it largely because he pushed and pushed to the point of breaking, sometimes getting up people’s noses. But he did it. He hustled and negotiated and promised and believed.
2. The undeniable value of a ‘hub’

Just like local champions are important, developing an identifiable hub (please excuse the jargon) is a huge step up to establishing sustained investment and jobs in a town. While many big towns have growing tech companies within their borders, some have them scattered in different areas. Bringing them closer together, ideally in a central location, increases the town’s marketability to tech investors.

There are some good examples of this. In Galway, a few local tech companies came together and created Portershed, which is now full. A second building is planned. Coworking spaces also act as effective hubs in some instances. Some of the best examples involve towns taking advantage of new broadband rollouts.
In Tralee, local entrepreneurs Ken Tobin and Tom O’Leary based a coworking space (called HQ Tralee) on an offer from Siro for free 1,000GB fibre broadband over two years. Like Ludgate in Skibbereen (which also uses Siro fibre broadband), HQ Tralee filled up quickly with expansion mooted. Startups now come from miles to work there instead of relocating to Cork or Dublin.

There is an open invitation to many towns to replicate this model. Indeed, Siro has explicitly invited towns including Letterkenny, Wexford town, Portlaoise, Castlebar, Mullingar and Carlow town to apply to them for the same setup as exists in Tralee and Skibbereen.
3. Too many rural areas undersell their strengths

Not everyone wants to live and work in a crowded city. Some tech companies like smaller locations, especially those with natural amenities that fit their lifestyle. Nearform, a fast-growing Irish mobile technology company that employs around 100 people, chose Tramore as its headquarters.

It did so partly because both of its founders, Richard Rodger and Cian O Maidin, are from the Waterford area. But its pitch to the skilled engineers it needed to recruit was to come work in an area with amazing beaches, great surfing, modest accommodation costs and access to a small city (Waterford) within a 20-minute drive.
In a maturing industry, there are lots of skilled 30-somethings and 40-somethings who aren’t as bothered about having 50 cafes, restaurants or brasseries on their doorstep. Many want a nice place with a great quality of life to raise a family.

In tech, there are growing (rich) niche communities that seek bespoke lifestyle options with their work. They’re people like senior Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bill Tai, who went to Achill in 2014 to mix kitesurfing with investing at the Web Summit’s ‘Surf Summit’. Irish coastal towns, in particular, regularly undersell themselves as investment options, because they try to compete on the metrics that bigger cities use. They should be focusing on their own strengths instead.
4. What hurts: planning woes.

The Apple Athenry affair is more than just a planning fiasco – it will deter some big investors from planning a project in rural Ireland, according to senior data centre executives. There’s little doubt that Apple has cooled considerably on its plan to build an €850m data centre in Athenry because of our unusually long planning appeals process. It’s not An Bord Pleanala that’s the problem – it’s the legal system we have. Unfortunately, leaving it up to lawyers to reform this is like asking TDs to be legislators first and constituency consultants second.

5. What hurts: the lack of broadband

Not to be a broken record, but the absence of plentiful high speed broadband in an area kills it for many tech companies.
It’s the opportunity foregone, too. The most recent European Commission figures show that when given access to high speed broadband, Irish small firms outsell and outperform other small businesses across Europe.

To be fair, the situation is improving a lot around Irish towns with over 1,500 people. There are few of these left without some access to high speed broadband.

The issue is that many of these towns have a pocket of broadband in the centre with little or nothing on the fringes or in the townlands, where most of the people actually live. This is no good to a small or medium-sized tech firm. They need their staff to have high quality access online whenever necessary.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

Taxback International to create 80 jobs in Kilkenny

Taxback International, a VAT recovery specialist, is to create 80 jobs at its Kilkenny headquarters.

The roles are being created across a number of departments to deal with an increased demand for the company’s services from both Irish and international clients.

Recruitment for the roles has already started, with positions ranging from graduate to senior level executives in the areas of sales and marketing, as well as R&D.

“VAT recovery is becoming an increasingly important service to businesses worldwide as companies look to increase their bottom line, which is why demand for our service is growing at a rapid pace,” Catherine Quirke, COO of Taxback International, said.
The news was welcomed by the Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD, who said he was “delighted” to be in Kilkenny to celebrate the announcement of 80 new jobs at the company.

“Taxback International joins a prominent list of leading companies who have carved out a competitive position in the global marketplace and their phenomenal global sales success illustrates the potential of Ireland’s Fintech sector to create jobs,” Minister Breen said.
Taxback International is part of the Taxback Group that employs over 1,200 people globally.

In the last 12 months Taxback International has opened new sales offices in Australia, China, Japan, UK and US, and relocated to four larger processing and operations locations in Europe.
The company counts ITW, Electrolux, Honeywell, Mondelez and Bloomberg among its larger clients.

The news was welcomed by Enterprise Ireland.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

Pay increases of up to 12pc expected for entry level jobs

Massive pay hikes of 7pc to 12pc over two years are expected for entry level jobs in some specialist fields – including law and data security.

Economist have tipped overall wage growth of around 2pc in the economy this year. Many had expected that pace to slacken next year after public sector increases had worked through the system.

But a major salary survey by Brightwater Recruitment suggests wage pressure is building, particularly in sectors where skills are rare or especially sought-after. The results were based on a survey of 3,500 respondents including employers and jobseekers.

Some of the greatest increases are expected at relatively junior level – though in areas with defined skills.
In the legal sector, a junior legal counsel in Dublin can expect to see a salary increase of almost 7pc compared to 2016, rising to between €55,000 and €80,000 in 2018.

In IT, the relatively new role of infosec/security operations engineer can expect a salary increase of 9pc, rising in 2018 to €35,000-€60,000 depending on experience.
In customer services, a team leader can expect an increase of up to 12.5pc, taking pay to €45,000 compared with €40,000 in 2016.

The survey found wage increases to be more moderate outside Dublin, bearing out employer groups’ fears that high accommodation costs in the capital are driving wage demands.
It found salaries outside Dublin to be lower in almost all sectors. Brightwater said it was adding 35 roles as the jobs market continued to improve.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

Five personalised marketing experiences shoppers want

Facing into the busy festive shopping period brands will no doubt be trying to entice consumers to spend as much as possible.

With this in mind, before are five things that global consultants McKinsey & Company say that consumers want from online personalised marketing.

One – Relevant recommendations they would not have thought of themselves

To provide something a customer might be interested in, companies need to use more sophisticated recommendation algorithms to offer complementary products or services instead of just the things the shopper has already browsed or bought.
Two – Talk to the consumer when they are in shopping mode

According to McKinsey & Company, a clothing retailer found that shoppers who visited one of their physical stores or the online store were more likely to open and respond to messages that were delivered either later on that same day or exactly a week later.
The message here is follow up quickly with your customer.

Three – Remind the consumer of things they want to know
An effective way to become relevant to shoppers is through tracking specific events and circumstances they are likely to want to know about.

Events such as promotional days and the launch of new products could work in this regard.

Four – Know the consumer no matter where they interact with you

If done effectively, communications that seamlessly straddle both online and offline experiences —and provide real value — can make a customer feel a retailer really knows them, according to the research from McKinsey & Company.
Five – Share the value in a way that’s meaningful to the consumer

Personalising customer offers is a highly effective way to not only inspire purchases but also encourage new buyer behaviours.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

Tax authorities warn online bargain hunters

BARGAIN-hunters who buy online have been warned they could end up with a tax bill that will wipe out any savings they thought they had secured.

Most goods bought from outside the European Union (EU) will be liable to tax and duty if they are over a certain value, Revenue warned.

Officials from the tax authority said average charges of almost €29 were applied to more than 76,000 packages at postal depots around the country.

The warning comes as bargain hunters go online in their thousands in the hope of securing a Black Friday or a Cyber Monday deal ahead of Christmas.
Revenue said online shoppers may snap up what they see as bargains.

But shoppers have been warned to watch out for prices for popular goods that seem especially low.
“This may be because tax and duty has not been accounted for,” it said.

“However, once your goods arrive in the State, you are liable for the additional charges and non-payment can result in your goods being seized.”
Almost all goods arriving from countries outside the EU and European free trade area will be liable to tax and duty.

Goods priced at more than €22 are liable for Vat tax. This figure includes the cost of postage and other charges such as insurance and handling fees.

And goods that cost more than €150 will be liable for both customs duty and Vat.

Revenue said adding in Vat and customs duty on the price of a branded mobile phone bought from a US website could leave the recipient liable to a Revenue bill of €250.
This could wipe out any savings on the purchase.

And Revenue warned that when people buy alcohol and tobacco products online, they have to pay excise duties along with Vat irrespective of the value of the purchase.
This could mean that someone who buys a case of wine which is on sale for €60 could end up having the wine seized on arrival as tax and duty is unlikely to have been paid on the transaction.

Revenue said in a statement: “Excise duty and VAT on an average case of 12 bottles of wine, originating in another EU country, could add up to €60 to your purchase, bringing the price you actually pay to €120.”
Last year, Revenue seized counterfeit goods worth an estimated €7.8m.

Fake handbags, runners, and phones are widely sold online, are among the counterfeit goods most commonly seized by Revenue.

Some counterfeit goods may also pose a risk to health and safety.
The spokesperson added: “Revenue is advising online shoppers to be wary. Some deals really are just too good to be true and what looks like an attractive offer, can ultimately be an expensive, or even dangerous, mistake.”

Revenue operates a free phone number for those with queries on taxes due on online goods at 1800 295 295.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42