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Net alert: Ireland reports high rates of online crime as half of users affected by illegal activity

Half of Irish people have come across illegal activity on the internet, according to the latest European Commission barometer.

In 17 countries across the EU, scams, frauds, subscription traps or other illegal commercial practices were found to be the most common form of illegal content encountered.

In the other EU countries, hate speech or pirated content were more likely to be encountered.

Subscription traps are where a person signs up for a free trial, or low-cost offer, and then finds themselves locked in to high-cost repeat payments.

In a survey of all 28 member states in June, the vast majority of people across the EU agreed that arrangements need to be in place to limit the spread of illegal content on the Internet. Similarly, a large majority of respondents (85pc) agree freedom of expression needs to be protected online.

This comes at a time when criminals are using social media to check when customers are contacting banks about problems, and then posing as the bank in order to hack people’s data.

That’s according to the head of the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau, who said gardaí have had multiple incidents of this activity reported to them.

Speaking at the Irish Independent’s Information Sec earlier this month, Detective Superintendent Michael Gubbins said cybercrime will become increasingly stealthy and hard to detect in the coming years.

He added that businesses need to educate their employees to be conscious of cybersecurity best practice.

“You’ve got to let them know what’s happening out there … it’s not all about technology or having the best IT equipment, because it doesn’t capture everything,” he said. “Co-operation among all relevant actors is key.”

Social engineering – using manipulation and deception in order to obtain the information being sought, like the example of calling people who have been interacting with banks online – remains “at the very top” of potential threats, he said.

Meanwhile less than half of the respondents in the EU (44pc) believe that internet hosting services – which allow organisations and people to have internet pages – are effective in tackling illegal content.

That being said, amongst respondents who notified the hosting service provider about illegal content that they had encountered, almost two in three said that they were satisfied with the response they received.

For content that has been flagged as illegal by the public or law enforcement agencies, 90pc agreed that internet-hosting services should immediately remove it, while a similar number agree internet hosting services should process all notifications they receive and assess the legality of the content.

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

European shares fall to lowest levels in nearly two years

European shares fell to their lowest levels in nearly two years on Tuesday as a new batch of third-quarter earnings failed to offset growing concerns on Brexit, Italy’s budget, Saudi isolation, trade wars, Chinese growth and US interest rates.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was down 1.1pc at 0826 GMT, its lowest level since December 2016 as it headed towards a fifth day of losses after a negative close in Asia and on Wall Street.
Other benchmarks sustained heavy losses, such as Germany’s DAX down 1.4pc, also at December 2016 lows.

“Risk off the table as geopolitical tensions remain,” was the message from LCG analyst Jasper Lawler to his clients ahead of the open.

The European tech sector posted the worst performance, down 2.2pc after chipmaker AMS tumbled and lost 17pc after its outlook failed to convince investors.

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

Behind the rosy headlines, Ireland still trails behind its peers in the EU

If you just read the headline numbers it looks as though the Celtic Tiger is roaring back, economic growth is surging, wages are taking off as unemployment levels head back to pre-crisis levels and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe’s coffers are bulging as the State heads for a balanced budget.

Underneath it all, however, Ireland’s economy shows many of its historical weaknesses. While productivity among the foreign multinationals here is well above EU averages, the domestic-owned economy lags and an investment regime based on low levels of corporation tax has failed to feed into improvements in the wider economy, according to the Nevin Economic Research Institute.

Development is skewed towards a handful of cities while the rest of the economy has barely felt the effects of surging foreign investment. Even though productivity – measured by gross value added per worker – is well in excess of EU average, most of the measures are flattered by the distorting effects of tax planning – the booking of items like intellectual property here as a result of Ireland’s low corporate tax levels, the union-backed think tank said in its latest quarterly report on the economy.

The corollary of a low-tax economy is one that is failing to invest enough in education and research and development. “Overall, the Republic of Ireland will remain a low-tax economy and low-spend economy with the second-lowest level of per capita spending amongst the group of 11 high-income EU countries,” the report said.

If things are not as rosy as they look in the State, they are dire for Northern Ireland, where Brexit risks further damaging an economy that has underperformed its southern neighbour.

“The scale of foreign direct investment into the Republic of Ireland has dramatically altered measures of economic output and opened a chasm between the two economies in terms of output per capita,” it added.

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

How EU’s budget rules sparked showdown with Italy

For nations of the eurozone, the annual budget process isn’t over when a budget is drawn up.

The European Commission also gets a say. In Italy’s case, the response from Brussels took less than three days. In a letter to the Italian government, the EU leadership said the draft included an unprecedented “deviation” and it demanded an explanation.

With no evidence that Italy is willing to reconsider its plans to spend big, signs point to an escalating standoff.

1 Why does the EU have a say on Italy’s budget?
EU countries have to follow a set of fiscal rules spelled out in what’s called the Stability and Growth Pact. Focusing on deficit and debt, the rules are designed to force members to maintain sound public finances and co-ordinate their spending policies. Monetary policy is the responsibility of the European Central Bank, and matters such as taxation are up to each country. But the EU expects its 28 members to heed the economic stability of the region as a whole.

2 What are the EU rules?
No country should have a budget deficit larger than 3pc of GDP or debt above 60pc of output, and governments must set annual targets to show they’re moving in the right direction. The EU made the rules for eurozone countries stricter in 2013 following the sovereign debt crisis. The updated rules require nations to pursue a balanced budget by law, aimed at keeping mounting public debt in check.

3 How are the rules enforced?
The European Commission (EC), the EU’s executive arm, monitors the finances of member states, reviews annual spending plans, identifies imbalances and issues recommendations every spring. These have to be endorsed by finance ministers and incorporated into the budget plans for the next year.

4 Who has a problem with the EU rules?
France, Belgium and Spain are among those that have received warnings or reprimands from the EU in recent years, though never a formal rejection of their draft budget plans or any sanctions.

Italy is now the nation in the EU’s crosshairs. In a showdown that was building for weeks, the EC declared Italy’s spending plans to be excessive. If Italy’s explanation is deemed insufficient, the commission could take the unprecedented step of essentially rejecting the budget and asking for revised plans. Italian leaders have spoken of wanting the commission to tweak how it calculates deficits.

5 What exactly is Italy seeking to do?
Its budget calls for a deficit equal to 2.4pc of GDP, compared with a 0.8pc shortfall planned by the government that was swept out of power in March.

This first budget plan by a government of two populist parties makes assumptions about growth that Italy’s own budget watchdog considers overly optimistic. It proposes accepting a wider deficit as the cost of delivering on promises such as a “citizen’s income” for the poor, tax cuts and a lower retirement age. Under Italy’s plan, the structural deficit is projected to deteriorate by 0.8pc, far from the 0.6pc improvement Brussels wants.

6 What happens to a nation that breaks the EU rules?
While Brussels ultimately has no real power over national budgets, governments are expected to take the commission’s opinion into account and avoid a reprimand that could affect financial markets.

If the commission finds a country persistently breaks deficit rules, it could eventually open a so-called excessive deficit procedure – a process where the country has to reduce its deficit by a set deadline or risk sanctions of up to 0.2pc of output. The EU’s enforcement credibility has come into question, such as when it opted not to penalise repeat offenders Spain and Portugal in 2016. France, too, has received leniency while Germany went unpunished when it broke the rules.

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

Guide to Pay & File

You could face stiff penalties over money earned on the side, or from Airbnb, unless you pay tax owed on those earnings in time, writes Louise McBride
This year’s tax return deadline is fast approaching – and if you’re one of those who thinks that tax returns have absolutely nothing to do with you, check that this is truly the case. Many people don’t realise they have to file a tax return – while there are others who chance their arm and choose not to file a return in the hope they can avoid paying tax on money earned on the side.

Failure to file a tax return when you need to could cost you dearly though – there are stiff penalties for people who don’t pay their taxes correctly and on time. So don’t make the mistake of thinking that it is just the self-employed and small businesses who must file a tax return this year – anyone earning money which cannot be taxed in the normal way must usually file a return and pay whatever tax is due.

Here are some of the main reasons why you, the ordinary-person-on-the-street, might have to file a tax return in the next few weeks.

Airbnb

Airbnb, the online accommodation service that allows people to make extra money by renting out their properties, has become a handy earner for many Irish people in recent years. There are concerns that a number of those who have earned money from Airbnb have not declared – or paid tax on – that income. Indeed the Revenue Commissioners has written to about 12,000 people to warn them to include money earned from Airbnb in their tax returns. These letters were sent on foot of information received by Revenue from Airbnb.

The average Irish Airbnb host earned about €3,500 in 2017 – though some hosts earned much more than that.

Money earned as an Airbnb host is taxable income – so it is important to declare such income to Revenue and pay any tax due. You pay income tax, PRSI and the Universal Social Charge (USC) on Airbnb income – and the rate of income tax paid depends on whether your total earnings require you to pay tax at the 40pc or 20pc rate.

You might not have to file a tax return for Airbnb income if you’re a PAYE worker and the profit earned as an Airbnb host is no more than €5,000 a year. You must still, however, come to an arrangement with Revenue to pay the tax due. “If you’re a PAYE worker, you may be able to adjust your tax credits and rate band to pay the tax due through the PAYE system – if the net Airbnb income is less than €5,000 for a tax year,” said Norah Collender, tax technical manager with Chartered Accountants Ireland. “In such cases, you should contact your local tax office or use Revenue’s online self-service system, MyAccount to have the tax liability coded on to your tax credit certificate. You will have less take-home pay as the Airbnb tax bill is paid off.”

Should you be unable to pay the tax due on your Airbnb income through the PAYE system, you must declare that income in a tax return and pay whatever tax is due. Self-employed people, for example, must file a tax return for any Airbnb income earned. So too must anyone who has earned a profit of more than €5,000 – or a gross income of more than €30,000 (regardless of profit) – from being an Airbnb host.

The tax rules around Airbnb income can be confusing. The accommodation provided through Airbnb is often short-term in nature (as it is often provided to tourists, holidaymakers and other visitors). You do not qualify for rent-a-room relief (the scheme which allows you to earn up to €14,000 a year tax-free by renting out a room in your home) if letting out a property to short-term guests. Therefore, you won’t qualify for relief under the rent-a-room scheme if your Airbnb guests are only short-term.

The tax treatment of Airbnb income depends on whether or not the income arises in the course of a trade. “Generally speaking, for the income to be considered trading income, the property or room would be expected to be available for rent on a frequent and regular basis, rather than on a once-off or occasional basis,” said a spokeswoman for Revenue.

The extent to which you can write expenses off your Airbnb tax bill – and therefore reduce the amount of tax you must pay on that income – will depend on whether your Airbnb earnings are deemed to be trading income, or not.

“Expenses relating to the trading activity and a portion of expenditure on fixtures and fitting used for the trade can be offset against the income from the Airbnb activity,” said Collender. “However, an individual who got a one-off or occasional Airbnb payment is not treated as operating a trade and the extent to which these individuals can offset expenses against Airbnb income is more restrictive than for an individual operating a trade.”

Some of the expenses which you may be able to write off your tax bill if you are only an occasional Airbnb host (and therefore not running a trade) include commission paid to Airbnb, cleaning fees, and the cost of breakfast provided to the guests. However, the costs of insuring or maintaining the property would not be tax-deductible.

HOUSE SALE

When you sell a house, you must declare the sale of that property to Revenue – even if it was your only home for the years that you owned it or if no tax is due to be paid on any profits made from the sale. Should you have sold a house in 2017, you must declare that sale to Revenue before this year’s tax deadline.

If the property you sold was not your principal private residence (PPR) for the entire time that you owned the property, you may have a tax bill to pay – as Capital Gains Tax (CGT) must typically be paid on any profit earned from the sale of such a property.

You may be able to reduce or eliminate your CGT bill if the property was your main residence for any of the time you owned it – as you will be entitled to a tax exemption for the years that the property was your PPR.

Furthermore, there is a personal CGT exemption that allows you to earn the first €1,270 of your profit (or €2,540 if you are married and the property was held jointly) free of CGT.

Any CGT due on a property sold in 2017 must however have been paid by mid-December 2017 (if the property was sold between January 1 and November 30, 2017) – or by the end of January 2018 (if the property was sold in December 2017). So if you have not yet paid the CGT on a property sold in 2017, you are late paying your tax. “If the tax wasn’t paid, get it sorted as soon as possible and submit a 2017 tax return by November 14,” said Collender.

You do not have to pay CGT on profits earned from a house sale if that house was your main residence while you owned it (as long as there is no more than one acre of land around the house).

NIXERS

Income earned from nixers – such as grinds, gardening or plumbing jobs on the side – is usually taxable and must be declared to Revenue. There are a few exceptions to this rule: a bean an ti, for example, does not have to pay tax or file a tax return on money earned from the hosting of Gaeltacht students in her home.

Check if tax must be paid on earnings not taxed in the normal way, and if you must file a return.

Should you be a PAYE worker earning some money outside the PAYE system, you may not have to file a tax return if the money earned is below certain limits – as long as you come to an arrangement with Revenue to pay the tax on the extra earnings through the PAYE system.

Handy pointers for 2017 tax return

The Deadline

The deadline for paper-based tax returns is October 31, 2018 but if you’re filing your return online, the deadline is November 14. You must be registered with ROS (Revenue Online Service) to be able to file your return online. It could take a week or two to get registered with ROS, so if you haven’t done so already and are planning to file your return online, register as soon as possible.

Exempt income & tax returns

Even if you earned income in 2017 which is exempt from tax, you may still need to file a tax return for that income and declare the tax-exempt income in your return. This, for example, is the case with the rent-a-room relief scheme. Never assume that any income you earn is tax-free — always check with Revenue if income earned is taxable and if you must file a return for it. Income earned from taking a foreign student into your home can be tax-free — as long as you qualify for rent-a-room relief. You must still file a return to declare that tax-free income though.

Paternity and Maternity Pay

Maternity and paternity benefit are liable to income tax — but not to PRSI or the Universal Social Charge. So should you be self-employed, remember to declare any maternity or paternity benefit you received in 2017 in your tax return and to pay the tax due on that benefit. PAYE workers who get paternity or maternity pay do not need to file a tax return as Revenue should have already adjusted their tax credits and bands to ensure that tax was paid on the benefit.

Tax Return Forms for house sale

Self-employed individuals who sold a property in 2017 must declare that sale in the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) panel of their tax return form (Form 11). PAYE workers however can file their CGT return on the form CG1.

Tax Return Forms for Airbnb

As this year’s tax return deadline is for the 2017 tax year, it is income earned as an Airbnb host in 2017 which must be declared by the end of this month (or by November 14 — if filing the return online). “If you’re a PAYE worker and have Airbnb income in 2017 which you didn’t sort out through the PAYE system by having your tax credits and rate band adjusted, then you have until 14 November this year to file a Form 12 and pay over the tax due on the income,” said Norah Collender of Chartered Accountants Ireland. “The form is complex so don’t put off completing it until the day of the deadline.”

Self-employed people can use the Form 11 to declare any income earned through Airbnb. “If you are frequently getting an income from Airbnb, you need to complete the section dealing with trading income,” said Collender. “If you only got a one-off or infrequent payment from Airbnb, you should complete the section of the return dealing with fees and commission earned from sources of income other than employments or directorships.”

Should you have earned money as an Airbnb host prior to 2017, and never declared or paid tax on this income, contact Revenue soon to settle your tax bill for that income. You are likely to face interest and penalties for late payment of tax but failure to settle your tax bill now could see you face much tougher tax penalties in the future.

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

Guide to Pay & File

You could face stiff penalties over money earned on the side, or from Airbnb, unless you pay tax owed on those earnings in time, writes Louise McBride

This year’s tax return deadline is fast approaching – and if you’re one of those who thinks that tax returns have absolutely nothing to do with you, check that this is truly the case. Many people don’t realise they have to file a tax return – while there are others who chance their arm and choose not to file a return in the hope they can avoid paying tax on money earned on the side.

Failure to file a tax return when you need to could cost you dearly though – there are stiff penalties for people who don’t pay their taxes correctly and on time. So don’t make the mistake of thinking that it is just the self-employed and small businesses who must file a tax return this year – anyone earning money which cannot be taxed in the normal way must usually file a return and pay whatever tax is due.

Here are some of the main reasons why you, the ordinary-person-on-the-street, might have to file a tax return in the next few weeks.

Airbnb

Airbnb, the online accommodation service that allows people to make extra money by renting out their properties, has become a handy earner for many Irish people in recent years. There are concerns that a number of those who have earned money from Airbnb have not declared – or paid tax on – that income. Indeed the Revenue Commissioners has written to about 12,000 people to warn them to include money earned from Airbnb in their tax returns. These letters were sent on foot of information received by Revenue from Airbnb.

The average Irish Airbnb host earned about €3,500 in 2017 – though some hosts earned much more than that.

Money earned as an Airbnb host is taxable income – so it is important to declare such income to Revenue and pay any tax due. You pay income tax, PRSI and the Universal Social Charge (USC) on Airbnb income – and the rate of income tax paid depends on whether your total earnings require you to pay tax at the 40pc or 20pc rate.

You might not have to file a tax return for Airbnb income if you’re a PAYE worker and the profit earned as an Airbnb host is no more than €5,000 a year. You must still, however, come to an arrangement with Revenue to pay the tax due. “If you’re a PAYE worker, you may be able to adjust your tax credits and rate band to pay the tax due through the PAYE system – if the net Airbnb income is less than €5,000 for a tax year,” said Norah Collender, tax technical manager with Chartered Accountants Ireland. “In such cases, you should contact your local tax office or use Revenue’s online self-service system, MyAccount to have the tax liability coded on to your tax credit certificate. You will have less take-home pay as the Airbnb tax bill is paid off.”

Should you be unable to pay the tax due on your Airbnb income through the PAYE system, you must declare that income in a tax return and pay whatever tax is due. Self-employed people, for example, must file a tax return for any Airbnb income earned. So too must anyone who has earned a profit of more than €5,000 – or a gross income of more than €30,000 (regardless of profit) – from being an Airbnb host.

The tax rules around Airbnb income can be confusing. The accommodation provided through Airbnb is often short-term in nature (as it is often provided to tourists, holidaymakers and other visitors). You do not qualify for rent-a-room relief (the scheme which allows you to earn up to €14,000 a year tax-free by renting out a room in your home) if letting out a property to short-term guests. Therefore, you won’t qualify for relief under the rent-a-room scheme if your Airbnb guests are only short-term.

The tax treatment of Airbnb income depends on whether or not the income arises in the course of a trade. “Generally speaking, for the income to be considered trading income, the property or room would be expected to be available for rent on a frequent and regular basis, rather than on a once-off or occasional basis,” said a spokeswoman for Revenue.

The extent to which you can write expenses off your Airbnb tax bill – and therefore reduce the amount of tax you must pay on that income – will depend on whether your Airbnb earnings are deemed to be trading income, or not.

“Expenses relating to the trading activity and a portion of expenditure on fixtures and fitting used for the trade can be offset against the income from the Airbnb activity,” said Collender. “However, an individual who got a one-off or occasional Airbnb payment is not treated as operating a trade and the extent to which these individuals can offset expenses against Airbnb income is more restrictive than for an individual operating a trade.”

Some of the expenses which you may be able to write off your tax bill if you are only an occasional Airbnb host (and therefore not running a trade) include commission paid to Airbnb, cleaning fees, and the cost of breakfast provided to the guests. However, the costs of insuring or maintaining the property would not be tax-deductible.

HOUSE SALE

When you sell a house, you must declare the sale of that property to Revenue – even if it was your only home for the years that you owned it or if no tax is due to be paid on any profits made from the sale. Should you have sold a house in 2017, you must declare that sale to Revenue before this year’s tax deadline.

If the property you sold was not your principal private residence (PPR) for the entire time that you owned the property, you may have a tax bill to pay – as Capital Gains Tax (CGT) must typically be paid on any profit earned from the sale of such a property.

You may be able to reduce or eliminate your CGT bill if the property was your main residence for any of the time you owned it – as you will be entitled to a tax exemption for the years that the property was your PPR.

Furthermore, there is a personal CGT exemption that allows you to earn the first €1,270 of your profit (or €2,540 if you are married and the property was held jointly) free of CGT.

Any CGT due on a property sold in 2017 must however have been paid by mid-December 2017 (if the property was sold between January 1 and November 30, 2017) – or by the end of January 2018 (if the property was sold in December 2017). So if you have not yet paid the CGT on a property sold in 2017, you are late paying your tax. “If the tax wasn’t paid, get it sorted as soon as possible and submit a 2017 tax return by November 14,” said Collender.

You do not have to pay CGT on profits earned from a house sale if that house was your main residence while you owned it (as long as there is no more than one acre of land around the house).

NIXERS

Income earned from nixers – such as grinds, gardening or plumbing jobs on the side – is usually taxable and must be declared to Revenue. There are a few exceptions to this rule: a bean an ti, for example, does not have to pay tax or file a tax return on money earned from the hosting of Gaeltacht students in her home.

Check if tax must be paid on earnings not taxed in the normal way, and if you must file a return.

Should you be a PAYE worker earning some money outside the PAYE system, you may not have to file a tax return if the money earned is below certain limits – as long as you come to an arrangement with Revenue to pay the tax on the extra earnings through the PAYE system.

Handy pointers for 2017 tax return

The Deadline

The deadline for paper-based tax returns is October 31, 2018 but if you’re filing your return online, the deadline is November 14. You must be registered with ROS (Revenue Online Service) to be able to file your return online. It could take a week or two to get registered with ROS, so if you haven’t done so already and are planning to file your return online, register as soon as possible.

Exempt income & tax returns

Even if you earned income in 2017 which is exempt from tax, you may still need to file a tax return for that income and declare the tax-exempt income in your return. This, for example, is the case with the rent-a-room relief scheme. Never assume that any income you earn is tax-free — always check with Revenue if income earned is taxable and if you must file a return for it. Income earned from taking a foreign student into your home can be tax-free — as long as you qualify for rent-a-room relief. You must still file a return to declare that tax-free income though.

Paternity and Maternity Pay

Maternity and paternity benefit are liable to income tax — but not to PRSI or the Universal Social Charge. So should you be self-employed, remember to declare any maternity or paternity benefit you received in 2017 in your tax return and to pay the tax due on that benefit. PAYE workers who get paternity or maternity pay do not need to file a tax return as Revenue should have already adjusted their tax credits and bands to ensure that tax was paid on the benefit.

Tax Return Forms for house sale

Self-employed individuals who sold a property in 2017 must declare that sale in the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) panel of their tax return form (Form 11). PAYE workers however can file their CGT return on the form CG1.

Tax Return Forms for Airbnb

As this year’s tax return deadline is for the 2017 tax year, it is income earned as an Airbnb host in 2017 which must be declared by the end of this month (or by November 14 — if filing the return online). “If you’re a PAYE worker and have Airbnb income in 2017 which you didn’t sort out through the PAYE system by having your tax credits and rate band adjusted, then you have until 14 November this year to file a Form 12 and pay over the tax due on the income,” said Norah Collender of Chartered Accountants Ireland. “The form is complex so don’t put off completing it until the day of the deadline.”

Self-employed people can use the Form 11 to declare any income earned through Airbnb. “If you are frequently getting an income from Airbnb, you need to complete the section dealing with trading income,” said Collender. “If you only got a one-off or infrequent payment from Airbnb, you should complete the section of the return dealing with fees and commission earned from sources of income other than employments or directorships.”

Should you have earned money as an Airbnb host prior to 2017, and never declared or paid tax on this income, contact Revenue soon to settle your tax bill for that income. You are likely to face interest and penalties for late payment of tax but failure to settle your tax bill now could see you face much tougher tax penalties in the future.

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

Monday 22 October 2018 Brexit already having ‘negative impact on majority of UK firms’

Eight out of 10 UK firms surveyed by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) have said that Brexit has had a “negative impact” on their investment decisions.

Almost one in five also stated that the point of no return for triggering their plans has already passed.

The powerful UK business lobby, which surveyed 236 firms – representing 101 large companies and 135 SMEs – revealed the majority of firms will implement damaging contingency plans in the absence of greater certainty on Brexit by December.

Contingency plans include cutting jobs, adjusting supply chains outside the UK, stockpiling goods and relocating production and services overseas.

“The situation is now urgent,” said Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI, who warned that as long as a ‘no-deal’ scenario remains a possibility, the effect is corrosive for the UK economy, jobs and communities.

The UK-wide survey comes as the Irish Government concludes a nationwide ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’ roadshow, with more than 1,000 businesses due to attend a conference in the Convention Centre in Dublin on Thursday.

A seminar in Monaghan last Thursday, where three Government ministers heard that many Border firms had changed suppliers and have diversified to offset Brexit, was attended by 400 businesses.

Yesterday, Ms Fairbairn said the “speed of negotiations is being outpaced by the reality firms are facing on the ground”, adding a no-deal outcome will have severe implications for people’s livelihoods.

“Unless a withdrawal agreement is locked down by December, firms will press the button on their contingency plans. Jobs will be lost and supply chains moved,” she said. “The knock-on effect for the UK economy would be significant. Living standards would be affected and less money would be available for public services.”

Almost six out of 10 firms said they had formulated contingency plans, with one in five stating that the latest date to halt further implementation of contingency plans has already passed. Some 80pc of firms said that Brexit has had a negative impact, with almost seven out of 10 firms stating that Brexit has had an impact on the attractiveness of the UK as a place to invest.

“Uncertainty is draining investment from the UK, with Brexit having a negative impact on eight in 10 businesses,” said Ms Fairbairn.

The CBI said many firms won’t publicise their investment decisions, yet their impact will show in lower GDP years down the line.

The latest CBI Brexit preparedness survey was carried out between September 19 and October 8.

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

Big pay day for crisis-era Irish bondholders

STEEL-nerved investors who bet that Ireland would not default in the worst days of the eurozone crisis got to collect their reward yesterday.

Holders of the last bonds issued by the Irish government before the 2010 EU/IMF bailout were repaid yesterday, in full and on time. That was in doubt through much of the crisis period, when the bonds traded at steep discounts.

The €1bn of debt was issued to investors in September 2010 at a yield – effectively the borrowing cost – of 6.023pc. The bailout deal was struck months later, as the State’s cost of borrowing on the markets became unaffordable.

The original bailout loans carried interest rates of more than 5pc, but were later slashed. Bonds that had already been issued continued to trade at knockdown prices. In July 2011, at the nadir of the eurozone debt crisis, the €1bn of September 2010 bonds could have been bought for €566m.

The implied yield at that point was 14.732pc. The State did not have to pay that ruinously high interest as the yield was a function of the price bonds were traded on the market.

Bondholders who bought at that price were paid the cash interest of 4.5pc a year – around 31.5pc in cumulative interest since mid-2011. Yesterday the bonds were repaid in full, including to those who bought them at close to half of the face value.

During the life of the bond Ireland’s credit rating fell from AAA to BBB+ with S&P and Fitch, and fell further to junk with Moody’s. It is currently rated A+.

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

Minister confirms changes in scheme to help SMEs

THE Government’s new Finance Bill has confirmed a €50,000 increase in maximum value of share options that can be granted under its Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP), to €300,000 in any period.

It had previously been subject to a limit applied in a consecutive three-year period. The scheme, introduced a year ago, was intended to help SMEs to attract and retain talent in a competitive labour market.

But it’s been woefully unsuccessful, prompting Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to make amendments to it in this month’s Budget.

He acknowledged during his Budget speech that take-up of the scheme had been less than expected and he was “taking early action” to address it.

The new Finance Bill also confirmed that the maximum annual market value of share options that can be granted to an employee or director in any one year can now be the equivalent of up to 100pc of salary.

A €3m overall limit remains for companies on the value of share options they can allot under the KEEP programme, while employees are not restricted from entering into future KEEP arrangements with future employers.

Under the KEEP incentive, gains realised on the exercise of qualifying share options granted between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2023, will not be subject to income tax, USC or PRSI. In order to qualify for KEEP, an option must be exercised within 10 years of grant.

Gains are subject to capital gains tax on disposal of shares, however.

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

Dublin Port to speed up investment as growth exceeds all expectations

An expected 3.3pc annual growth rate at Dublin Port established just six months ago by the facility to determine its infrastructure requirements for the next two decades is already being exceeded.

The chief executive of Dublin Port Company, Eamonn O’Reilly, said the current pace of growth means the semi-state firm now needs to speed up investment.

New figures show that cargo volumes at Dublin Port have continued to rise as the economy improves, with total volumes up 4.7pc to 28.4m gross tonnes during the first nine months of the year. Imports rose 6pc and exports were 3pc higher.

Mr O’Reilly said that the facility has witnessed an “extraordinary” rate of growth, with volumes of cargo through the trade gateway having risen 36pc in the past six years.

“This rate is outstripping our long-term master plan growth rate of 3.3pc per annum and underpins the need for us to accelerate our capital investment programme to ensure that Dublin Port has sufficient capacity for future growth,” he said.

The CEO also confirmed that Dublin Port has begun construction of “primary border control infrastructure” to ensure that the facility is prepared “for whatever Brexit might throw at us”. Earlier this year, Dublin Port published a revised master plan where it based future expansion requirements based on a new 3.3pc expected rate of annual growth. It had previously forecast annual growth of 2.5pc, a figure that had been set in 2012.

Mr O’Reilly pointed out that this year, €132m is being invested in Dublin Port under its 2040 master plan.

“After decades of underinvestment in port infrastructure, we need to invest €1bn in the next 10 years,” he said.

Mr O’Reilly added that the company is continuing work on its Alexandra Basin redevelopment and will soon bring its second major strategic infrastructure project plans to An Bord Pleanala.

The latest figures for the port show that imports rose 6pc to 16.9m gross tonnes in the third quarter of 2018, while exports were 3pc higher at 11.5m tonnes.

“Having come through the worst of recessions from 2008, our volumes are already 23pc higher than they were in 2007,” said Mr O’Reilly. “In the timescale of port infrastructure projects, we need to press ahead with our infrastructure projects notwithstanding the uncertainties of Brexit.”

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