News feed from Chartered Accountants Ireland
Last feed update: Saturday December 15th, 2018 10:01:14 AM
Friday December 14th, 2018 11:40:13 AM
David Carson says planning for maximum change should be the priority for Irish businesses.
‘Brexit means Brexit’ has one fundamental flaw: it means different things to different people. It is complicated further by the fact that, for many people, as they grasp the evolving details, it means something different today than it did on 23 June 2016.
Negotiation of the Withdrawal Treaty was supposed to be the easy part. It has proved anything but easy. Recent events in London demonstrate the challenges facing anyone trying to understand Brexit, how it will eventually play out and when we will have certainty. Predictions on this later point have at least one common feature – they have all been wrong.
What is clear is that when the UK leaves the EU, the conditions in which Irish businesses trade with the UK will change, and those changes could be significant. The nature and timing of the changes are unknown. Businesses operate on a daily basis in an uncertain and disruptive environment. It is the degree to which Brexit adds to that uncertainty and disruption that is a cause for concern. I suspect that the hidden cost of Brexit to date has been significant for very many businesses and they haven’t even left the EU yet.
The ongoing, some might suggest, increased level of uncertainty has discouraged some businesses from taking action. Encouragingly, in a recent survey of Irish CEOs carried out by Deloitte and Enterprise Ireland, almost seven in ten (68%) said that they had acted to mitigate against the potential impact of Brexit. The 29 March 2019 is fast approaching and many false dawns have come and gone. Even if the Withdrawal Agreement is agreed – and at the time of writing this is by no means certain – there is likely to be significant elapsed time before there is clarity on a future trading relationship between the EU and the UK. In summary, it is imperative that organisations assess their level of exposure and plan on the basis of maximum change.
How to prepare
It is important to understand the potential areas of exposure and risk for your company. Plans need to be made for disruption. Many businesses are considering measures to ensure that they have adequacy of supply and stockpiling features high on most agendas.
Here are the business issues that may be impacted by Brexit:
Trade and supply chain;
Tax, systems and data; and
Regulation and market access.
Within these areas, a number of key questions should be considered:
Are any suppliers based in the UK? And, if yes, have you contacted your key suppliers to ascertain whether they are Brexit ready?
Could the movement of your imports or exports be delayed by border controls and what impact would that have on your supply chain?
Could your trade be subject to tariff and non-tariff barriers?
Are any customers based in the UK?
Do you hold data which relates to the UK?
Are the goods or services which you provide regulated and by which regulatory bodies?
The Irish people have proven to be resilient in the face of challenges. That trait will continue to be tested by Brexit. The referendum in the UK has proven to be more divisive than decisive. Irish business needs to respond to the unprecedented challenges by planning for maximum change.
David Carson is the Brexit Lead in Deloitte.
Friday December 14th, 2018 12:01:00 AM
By Professor Neil Gibson
While there are growing concerns about the global economy and the spectre of Brexit looms large, Ireland enters 2019 in a position of strength. Its renowned international sector is now complemented by a strong domestic economy which is fuelled by fast job growth, real wage increases and strong inward migration flows. This domestic strength provides Ireland with short-term insulation against a global slowdown. However, this growth brings with it new problems, such as labour shortages, rising prices and pressure on public services – each of which will provide major challenges for policy makers and business alike.
In the spirit of the season, Ireland should celebrate the success of 2018, but some New Year’s resolutions will be necessary to stay fit and healthy for what lies ahead. Based on the EY-DKM Economic Advisory, here are my predictions for 2019:
Prediction 1: GDP growth will rise by 4.2%
GDP growth is projected to remain robust and above trend due to the strength of the domestic economy. Rising levels of employment coupled with increasing wages and higher levels of government spending all provide a solid platform for 2019 growth.
Biggest forecast risk: A slowing global economy hitting Irish multinational profitability.
Prediction 2: Employment growth will rise by 2.7% or 60,000 net jobs
The strength of the domestic economy should allow for growth in consumer businesses, including retail, restaurants, leisure and housing. The rapid move to online shopping is a notable headwind for high street retailers, but the scale of growth in consumer spending should be enough to offset this for now. Employment in public services is also increasing and, according to the EY’s Brexit tracker, Dublin is currently the most popular choice for relocation for those financial services firms who are decanting elements of their business from London.
Biggest forecast risk: High wage inflation deterring businesses from hiring.
Prediction 3: Wage growth will increase by 3.6%
A tight labour market should support strong wage growth, as will the easing of restrictions on public sector pay. Wage growth has accelerated throughout 2018 and should continue in the year ahead. Across certain sectors such as IT and construction, wage growth will be more than twice the national average.
Biggest forecast risk: Businesses ease off on hiring as nervousness over macroeconomic conditions grows.
Prediction 4: Consumer spending will grow by 2.9%
Population growth, an increase in the number of people in work, and above-inflation pay increases should provide very strong consumer spending growth conditions. This combination of positive factors makes 2018/19 something of a sweet spot for businesses selling to Irish consumers – welcome relief after a very challenging decade.
Biggest forecast risk: Loss of consumer confidence arising from global concerns and a consequent increase in the tendency to save.
Prediction 5: Net migration will increase the population by more than 40,000
A growing labour market and lack of local supply will boost inward migration. In addition, there may be a positive Brexit effect as migrants looking to locate (even temporarily) to a prosperous market with English as the predominant language may choose Ireland. Even if the UK migration rules are relatively relaxed, or not yet in place, there will be a perception effect which will boost Ireland’s attractiveness.
Biggest forecast risk: The high cost of rent and availability of housing may curtail migrant flows.
Prediction 6: Inflation will push upwards by 1.8%
Inflation depends heavily on exchange rates, and an appreciating euro would keep inflation low, but housing costs and the effect of rising wages should allow prices to push upwards. Low oil prices may ease the pressure somewhat, but in such a rapidly growing economy, inflation is likely to begin to pick up from its current very low levels.
Biggest forecast risk: An appreciation in the euro or falling oil prices.
Prediction 7: House prices will increase by 4%
Prices have been rising significantly (more than 30% over the last three years) but the impact of policy changes to tighten lending criteria, and a steady growth in supply, should provide something of a cap on increases. A more sustainable rate of growth is predicted, but the migration outlook will keep applying upward pressure, though this will be more acutely felt in rental prices.
Biggest forecast risk: If supply does not keep pace with demand then prices may rise faster.
Prediction 8: Construction inflation will rise by 7.5%
Strong demand for house building in addition to an acceleration in government infrastructure spending create positive conditions for construction and, therefore, rising prices. Labour shortages in the sector will further apply upward pressure on construction inflation. The long slowdown severely reduced the number of firms in the sector and it is more difficult to attract construction workers to return to Ireland, given the pain of the previous crash. Equally, the supply of labour from a number of Eastern European markets is not as plentiful, as those markets are enjoying stronger domestic conditions themselves.
Biggest forecast risk: Demand and supply mismatches may make this prediction conservative.
Prediction 9: Housing completions will top 25,000
Demand for housing is very strong heading into 2019, and increased migrant flows will give it a further boost. Housing is also a political priority, and the modest slowdown in commercial building is diverting resources into the booming residential market.
Biggest forecast risk: High construction price inflation could mean that some developments are no longer viable.
Prediction 10: Total tax collected from businesses and tax payers will rise by 4.2%
A strong labour market and high levels of growth in consumer spending should support growth in VAT and income tax receipts. Corporate taxes are more difficult to predict and more heavily impacted by global conditions than domestic taxes.
Biggest forecast risk: A global slowdown sharply impacting corporation tax and, therefore, the overall tax take.
Prediction 11: Government will spend more than it collects in taxes by 0.1% of GDP
Ireland looks set to enjoy its first positive general government balance (the difference between what it collects in taxes and what it spends) in a decade in the 2018/19 fiscal year. This is largely due to above-forecast corporation tax receipts, which are notoriously volatile. The political pressures to spend are considerable, and the forecast is therefore that the fiscal balance will tip back slightly into the red in 2019 as public spending pressures remain acute.
Biggest forecast risk: A global slowdown sharply impacting corporation tax and, therefore, overall tax receipts
Prediction 12: The unemployment rate will reduce further to 4.9%
A strong rate of jobs growth is predicted to drive unemployment lower, back to levels last seen at the peak of the previous boom. Rising wage rates may draw some people into searching for a job who were previously not actively looking (economically inactive) and the strong migrant flow will prevent the rate falling more sharply.
Biggest forecast risk: A loss of consumer confidence from wider macro conditions which would reduce employment in consumer sectors quickly and sharply.
Professor Neil Gibson is the Chief Economist at EY Ireland.
Thursday December 13th, 2018 12:02:16 PM
UK Prime Minister Theresa May might have won the confidence vote but she now faces a mammoth struggle to get her Brexit deal through Parliament. In other news, the Irish Revenue is writing to traders who trade with the UK advising them of some customs obligations post Brexit and readers are reminded of the Institute’s Brexit resources available on our website.
An embattled leader
Theresa May survived an attempt by her Tory colleagues to remove her as leader of the Conservative party on Wednesday; winning the vote of confidence among her MPs by 200 to 117. The vote hasn’t changed anything on the Brexit withdrawal bill – hostility among her own party and the opposition remains.
And now the embattled UK Prime Minister is in Brussels at the EU Summit in an attempt to seek concessions from the EU on her Brexit deal - but the EU have been forthright in saying no. The Northern Ireland backstop - the insurance policy to ensure that there is no hard border on the island of Ireland in the event that the UK and EU cannot agree a free trade deal after the transition period ends – remains the sticking point. Many MPs see the backstop as unpalatable as it leaves the UK in a customs union with the EU and means the UK is not free to seek out free trade deals with other countries.
So something is needed in order to make the deal more palatable to Prime Minister May’s own Parliament. Will the EU give concessions? So far the EU leaders have been clear that the deal that is on the table is the only deal; and while it cannot be changed, the EU is willing to deliver some assurances on the backstop. With just over 100 days to go until 29 March 2019, the prospect of a no deal Brexit remains.
Revenue write to Irish traders
The Irish Revenue has begun the process of writing to traders in the Republic of Ireland who trade with the UK advising them of the potential customs obligations that they may face post Brexit.
Traders are also encouraged to attend customs information seminars run by Revenue. Events have taken place in Dublin and Cork and further events are planned for Galway, Wexford, Sligo, Dundalk, Monaghan and Westmeath in January. We will communicate these venues and dates to members when they are confirmed.
The Brexit dedicated page on the Revenue website will be updated with further information as it becomes available.
Institute’s Brexit resources
Members are reminded that the Institute has published a series of Back to Brexit Basics which will help you understand Brexit and its possible implications for you and your business. The free customs guide Taking the Lead: Chartered Accountants and Brexit prepared by the Institute and ICAEW will also help business in the UK and Ireland get a grasp of customs obligations post Brexit.
ECJ says UK can revoke Article 50 unilaterally
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has said that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50 which provides for its withdrawal from the EU. This opinion is the same as the one reached by the ECJ’s Advocate General recently. Response to the decision in the UK was mixed with the Environment Secretary Michael Gove saying that the UK will leave the EU as planned in March. The ruling is reportedly one of the fastest ever made by the ECJ where decisions can take some months. However it’s understood that this case, which was first brought by a group of politicians from Scotland, was fast-tracked.
Read all of our Brexit updates and Back to Brexit Basics on the dedicated Brexit section of our website.
Thursday December 13th, 2018 11:56:15 AM
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has issued an International Standard on Auditing Accounting Estimates and Related Disclosures, covering the audit of expected credit losses in banks and which reflects the increased importance and complexity of estimates in financial statements. The FRC strongly supported the development on this standard.
The FRC is also consulting on updates to its Practice Note on The Audit of Banks and Building Societies in the United Kingdom, an area where the FRC has called for improved quality. The consultation reflects findings from the FRC's audit inspection work covering bank audits, which were covered extensively in public reports in June 2018.
The revised standard (ISA UK 540):
Reflects revisions to the underlying international standard, and addresses issues arising from evolving financial reporting frameworks, particularly the move to accounting for financial instruments on an expected loss basis, which is of particular significance for banks;/li>
Ensures the quality of auditing of management estimates and disclosures in the UK develops to meet users' needs, as financial reporting becomes more forward looking, leading to an increase in the volume and complexity of accounting judgements;
Requires better risk assessment and greater work effort on the part of auditors, who will also need to apply a higher benchmark in assessing the adequacy of disclosures; and
Early adoption of the new standard is permitted and is encouraged. It is effective for audits of financial statements for periods beginning on or after 15 December 2019.
Feedback Statement and Impact Assessment (PDF)
The consultation period on the Practice Note (PN 19) closes at 5pm on Friday 8 March 2019.
Source: Financial Reporting Council.
Thursday December 13th, 2018 11:53:47 AM
PAYE Modernisation Update is an easy-to-follow booklet which is a client service summarising the key aspects and requirements of the new PAYE system, effective from January 2019. This is now available in print and digital formats: click here for more information.
Thursday December 13th, 2018 11:45:08 AM
Measures to increase transparency and prevent abuse of limited partnerships, which some criminals have used to launder dirty money through the UK were unveiled on 10 December, as the UK Government published its response to the consultation on the reform of Limited Partnership law.
Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLPs) and Limited Partnerships (LPs) are used by thousands of legitimate British businesses, particularly the private equity and pensions industry, which invest more than £30 billion a year in the UK. However, there are concerns that they are being abused by criminals following large-scale money laundering scandals.
New filing requirements for all Limited Partnerships will make them more transparent with their information, preventing their abuse while enabling investors to continue to use them legitimately and invest in the UK. The key proposals are:
Those registering Limited Partnerships must demonstrate they are registered with an official anti-money laundering supervised agent, such as an accountant or a lawyer, or an overseas equivalent;
The Limited Partnership must demonstrate an ongoing link to the UK, for example by keeping its principal place of business in the UK;
All Limited Partnerships must submit a confirmation statement at least every 12 months to Companies House to ensure their information is accurate and up to date; and
Companies House will be given powers to strike off dissolved Limited Partnerships and Limited Partnerships which are not carrying on business.
The proposed reforms will apply to all Limited Partnerships in the UK. In addition to requirements that are in place for Scotland, the reforms will also include new reporting requirements for Limited Partnerships in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This will confirm that the information they have placed on the register is up to date and correct.
Last year, the UK Government introduced laws requiring SLPs to report their beneficial owner and make their ownership structure more transparent, seeing an 80% reduction in the number registered and these reforms seek to raise standards further.
This announcement comes ahead of a broader package of reforms to Companies House to ensure it is fit for the future and continues to contribute to the UK's business environment – the best place to start and grow a business. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy plans to consult on these reforms in the New Year.
Source: Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland.
Thursday December 13th, 2018 11:43:42 AM
Read about the National Emplopyer Helpline opening hours to help with the transition to PAYE Modernisation, action some agents may need to take by close of business today (14 December) to retain access to HMRC online services and how ECOFIN failed to reach agreement on digital taxation.
Revenue’s National Employer Helpline is available to provide support to employers during the transition to PAYE Modernisation. Full details of the extended Helpline telephone opening hours and availability over the Christmas period can be found on Revenue.ie
The 2018 USC Regulations were published last week. The new regulations will come into operation on 1 January 2019 and will apply to payments of relevant emoluments made on or after 1 January 2019
Read about action some agents may need to take by close of business today to retain access to HMRC online services;
The House of Lord’s Economic Affair Committee recommends a clearer distinction is needed in the Government’s approach and rhetoric towards tax avoidance
The Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) failed to reach agreement on a digital tax at EU level at a meeting of finance ministers last week. Read more
Thursday December 13th, 2018 11:37:03 AM
The Irish economy looks set to register another exceptional performance in 2018; employment is growing at 3% with taxation receipts across most headings also experiencing better than expected returns. The ESRI's latest Quarterly Economic Commentary states that GDP is expected to grow by 8.2% in 2018, followed by 4.2% growth in 2019. Unemployment is expected to average 5.7% in 2018 before falling to 5.1% in 2019.
The ESRI's forecasts for 2019 are subject to the technical assumption that the UK's continued membership in the EU will effectively remain in place after March 2019. However, the economy faces an unprecedented degree of uncertainty in 2019; the outcome of the Brexit process, combined with the possibility of increased international trade tensions, could have significant implications for the economy's performance in the New Year. In the commentary, the ESRI illustrates how a Brexit scenario, where WTO tariffs would apply, could almost halve the growth outlook in 2019.
Budget 2019 saw a significant increase in Government expenditure, particularly on capital projects. As a result, it is now likely that there will be a deficit in the general Government balance in 2019, whereas a surplus had looked a possibility before the budget. While most taxation headings are witnessing sizeable increases in 2018, a key feature of the public finances in the present year is the significant growth in corporation tax receipts. As a substantial portion of this growth is due to a small number of companies and so potentially vulnerable to a reversal, it is imperative that policy makers do not base expenditure on potentially volatile revenues going forward.
Source: The Economic and Social Research Institute.
Thursday December 13th, 2018 11:29:03 AM
A new code for the corporate governance of large private companies was launched last week, providing a framework to help them not only meet legal requirements but to promote long-term success. Recognising this, the Wates Principles encourage these companies to adopt a set of key behaviours to secure trust and confidence among stakeholders and benefit the economy and society in general.
These principles are part of a number of changes made this year to the UK corporate governance framework. They have been developed by a coalition established by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and chaired by James Wates CBE. By explaining the application of these principles, large private companies will be able to meet their obligations under The Companies (Miscellaneous Reporting) Regulations 2018.
James Wates CBE, Chairman, Wates Group said: "I believe that good business, well done, is a force for good in society. The Wates Corporate Governance Principles are a tool for large private companies that helps them look themselves in the mirror, to see where they've done well, and where they can raise their corporate governance standards to a higher level.
"Good corporate governance is not about box-ticking. It can only be achieved if companies think seriously about why they exist and how they deliver on their purpose then explain – in their own words – how they go about implementing the principles. That's the sort of transparency that can build the trust of stakeholders and the general public."
The six principles are:
Purpose and leadership: an effective board develops and promotes the purpose of a company and ensures that its values, strategy and culture align with that purpose;
Board composition: effective board composition requires an effective chair and a balance of skills, backgrounds, experience and knowledge, with individual directors having sufficient capacity to make a valuable contribution. The size of a board should be guided by the scale and complexity of the company;
Board responsibilities: the board and individual directors should have a clear understanding of their accountability and responsibilities. The board's policies and procedures should support effective decision-making and independent challenge;
Opportunity and risk: a board should promote the long-term sustainable success of the company by identifying opportunities to create and preserve value and establishing oversight for the identification and mitigation of risks;
Remuneration: a board should promote executive remuneration structures aligned to the long-term sustainable success of a company, taking into account pay and conditions elsewhere in the company; and
Stakeholder relationships and engagement: directors should foster effective stakeholder relationships aligned to the company's purpose. The board is responsible for overseeing meaningful engagement with stakeholders, including the workforce, and having regard to their views when taking decisions.
Reporting against these principles will take effect on 1 January 2019.
Source: Financial Reporting Council.
Thursday December 13th, 2018 09:39:49 AM
Ulster’s Chartered Accountants gave out some early Christmas presents this week and provided a boost to local children’s charities by presenting hundreds of toys to the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul Family Appeal. Chartered Accountants Ulster Society also raised £8,500 for Autism NI. This total will be doubled to £17,000 by the event sponsor Barclays.
The toys and funds were collected at the Society’s Christmas Charity Lunch at the Europa Hotel in Belfast, attended by over 500 Chartered Accountants.
Niall Harkin, Chair of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society said: “Our Charity Lunch is a major event for local business and a great opportunity to make Christmas a bit more special for thousands of children and families across Northern Ireland.
“It’s really important that at this time of year we can put a bit of magic into Christmas for local kids. Chartered Accountants have raised money and donated toys which will make a big difference. We’re especially pleased that through the support of Barclays we have been able to make this a bumper year.”
John Mathers, Corporate Development Director of Barclays said: “Members of the Ulster Society are extremely generous in their donations of toys and money which will help to make a real difference for many families who are in a less fortunate position. Barclays is pleased to be match-funding the amount raised for Autism NI, which does fantastic work throughout the year with families right across Northern Ireland.”
Pictured at the Charity Lunch with just a few of the toys collected are John Mathers, Corporate Development Director with event sponsors Barclays; Niall Harkin, Chairman Chartered Accountants Ulster Society; and Zara Duffy, Head of Chartered Accountants Northern Ireland.
Wednesday December 12th, 2018 04:46:11 PM
Developments of interest this week are set out below.
The FRC has issued a suite of staff factsheets on aspects of FRS 102, including the 2017 triennial review. The factsheets are intended to assist stakeholders by highlighting certain requirements of FRS 102 and can be accessed here.
The CRO have issued their regular gazette.
Wates Principles to improve corporate governance standards among private companies - a new code for the corporate governance of large private companies has been launched. Reporting against these principles will take effect on 1 January 2019. Find out more on the FRC website at the link here.
On 11 December the FRC withdrew, with immediate effect, Practice Note 25 ‘Attendance at Stocktaking’ and Practice Note 27 ‘The Audit of Credit Unions in the United Kingdom’. Read more here.
The FRC has launched a consultation to assess the effectiveness of the Client Asset Audit Standard which was introduced in 2015 and is also consulting on updates to its Practice Note on ‘The Audit of Banks and Building Societies in the United Kingdom’. The FRC has also issued an International Standard on ‘Auditing Accounting Estimates and Related Disclosures’ (International Standard on Auditing (UK) 540 (Revised)).
The November 2018 IFRS Interpretations Committee Update (IFRIC Update) has been published. IFRIC Update is a summary of the decisions reached by the IFRS Interpretations Committee in its public meetings.
Wednesday December 12th, 2018 03:28:21 PM
We buy our Christmas tree from Kavanagh Trees, member of The Irish Christmas Tree Growers. The Irish Christmas Tree Growers represents those growers who are committed to producing trees to the highest standards and in an environmentally sustainable and professional manner.
We choose a real tree instead of an artificial on, because, as Kavanagh's say:
“The conifer that we produce removes a lot of carbon from the atmosphere and releases oxygen, so consumers have a choice between “oil” or “soil”, i.e. plastic (non-renewable resource) or real (beneficial to the environment).”
Once Christmas is over, and we are miserably wondering why we ate so much chocolate, the tree is collected and mulched for compost.
Wednesday December 12th, 2018 03:17:54 PM
Our colleague Maria Murphy undertook a fast in aid of CONCERN and received generous support from her colleagues in the Institute, raising over €600 for the charity.
Wednesday December 12th, 2018 02:52:42 PM
It's not just an organisation's leaders who strive for higher productivity. Most employees want to be productive, too. Not only does it pass the time while they are at work, it also gives people a greater sense of fulfilment when they feel like they are being a productive member of their team. There is a satisfaction that comes with being able to make a plan and stick to it. And that satisfaction allows employees to switch off after work, which in turn allows them to relax and refresh.
However, in today’s workplace, where priorities and deadlines are constantly shifting, people often don’t feel in control and, despite working hard and long hours, employees often feel they are not on top of their workload. A lack of productivity can have a negative effect on the employee’s stress levels and general mental wellbeing.
Causes of stress in the workplace
If we look at some of the causes of workplace stress cited by employees, we see factors that also cause a lack of productivity:
changing demands and priorities;
inefficient systems and processes;
lack of clarity about roles and expectations;
poor communication with managers; and
long hours and a poor work-life balance.
The benefits of a productive culture
By removing barriers to productivity, an organisation can also reduce the stress levels of their employees. Not only will employee wellness and happiness increase, employee engagement and output will, as well.
To foster this culture, an organisation should strive to provide the best tools, processes, managers and training. Here are some questions to help identify your productivity barriers:
Are people clear about what is expected of them?
What are the bottlenecks or inefficiencies?
Are people collaborating when deadlines change?
Have the employees got the right skills to be productive?
Are the managers enabling productivity?
Improving productivity and wellness
Once you have some answers, encourage the managers and their teams to work together. Ask them to identify their specific barriers to productivity that impacts them on a daily basis. By encouraging solutions from within, employees will be more committed to making and sustaining any improvements. This can strengthen relationships as people work together towards a common purpose. Managers and their teams need to be empowered and supported to achieve the required changes. Your organisation also needs to be committed to (where possible and practical) making the changes identified and to fostering a culture of continuous improvement.
There are many practical changes an organisation can make quickly for very little cost. Here are some ideas to consider:
Provide clarity about everyday roles and responsibilities.
Develop a productive approach to meetings to reduce time and improve follow up.
Use smart email practices to reduce processing time.
Make sure everyone understands individual and team priorities.
Identify and eliminate distractions within the office.
Employee wellness is not just about supporting health and wellbeing in the workplace. It's also about making sure that the workplace is running smoothly and supporting employees to do their job. An environment where people are productive will reduce employee stress and maintain employee wellness to the benefit of both the employee and the organisation.
Moira is the founder of Be Productive.
Wednesday December 12th, 2018 02:27:45 PM
The staff of Chartered Accountants Ireland collected products for The Homeless Period Ireland, which provides assistance to homeless women, or women in crisis, who, with limited or no access to sanitary products, are often forced to go without. This initiative believes that tampons and towels should be made available to all women.
Wednesday December 12th, 2018 02:25:17 PM
On Wednesday the 25th of July, the staff held a Christmas in July party, with spot prizes for the best Christmas Jumper.
We chose to support Down Syndrome Ireland (DSI) and combined mince pies and ice cream (and why not?) to celebrate DSI's HBFunday.
Such was the clamour for these treats, that c.€600 was raised for DSI.
We were fortunate that Iain White was in the building yesterday and very kindly took some photos of the event
Monday December 10th, 2018 01:01:58 PM
In this week’s eNews we bring you the second instalment of our new series of member profiles, where members share their insights on the current tax landscape and their professional journey. This month its Alan Gourley who is Tax Director and Head of Private Client Tax at Grant Thornton (NI) LLP in Belfast and has previously worked in industry, at Invest Northern Ireland and most recently at PWC.
Alan has recently become Chair of the Northern Ireland Tax Committee of Chartered Accountants Ireland, having been a member of that committee for many years.
What’s the biggest tax challenge you come up against in your work in tax practice?
The biggest challenge is grappling with the complexity of the UK tax system. My main area of specialism is personal tax and in the UK we now have overlapping allowances, reliefs, caps, restrictions and anti-avoidance provisions which make everything, other than the most simple of cases, difficult to provide advice on. Complexity can erode trust in the tax system (how can taxpayers be sure they are paying the correct amount of tax?) and is an impediment to the further digitisation of tax services.
What’s changed for the better in tax since you started working as an accountant and tax professional?
I believe that the focus on tax avoidance in the UK has enhanced the role of the tax professional. Previously, too many taxpayers in the UK had been taking advice on tax planning measures without formal tax advice – that is much less likely to be the case now.
If the Chancellor of the Exchequer would grant you one wish for Finance Act 2019, what would that be?
That all future Budgets brought forward by the Chancellor would have an overall goal of simplifying the UK tax system. This could be assessed by the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) who should have an expanded role in the UK tax system.
Do you think that the Northern Irish business community are ready for Brexit?
It depends upon what type of Brexit we see. I do not think that many businesses in Northern Ireland are fully prepared for the hardest form of Brexit. But I have confidence that once businesses know what it is they need to do; they will quickly find a way to put the necessary arrangements into the practice. Down through the years I have seen that the business community in Northern Ireland is very resilient and resourceful.
Monday December 10th, 2018 12:02:31 PM
Qatar recently became the 85th state to sign the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent BEPS. This Convention now covers 1,500 bilateral tax treaties.
The Convention allows jurisdictions to integrate results from the OECD/G20 BEPS Project into their existing networks of bilateral tax treaties. The Convention will become effective on 1 January 2019 for the first 47 tax treaties concluded among the 15 jurisdictions that have already deposited their acceptance or ratification instrument.
Monday December 10th, 2018 12:00:18 PM
ECOFIN recently adopted proposals to adjust some of the EU's VAT rules in order to fix specific issues pending the introduction of a new VAT system.
The legislative adjustments will apply from 1 January 2020 and are as follows:
A simplified and uniform treatment for call-off stock arrangements where a vendor transfers stock to a warehouse at the disposal of a known acquirer in another member state;
In order to benefit from a VAT exemption for the intra-EU supply of goods, the identification number of the customer will become an additional condition;
To enhance legal certainty in determining the VAT treatment of chain transactions, the texts establish uniform criteria;
A common framework is established for the documentary evidence required to claim a VAT exemption for intra-EU supplies.
Discussions are also ongoing on the introduction of a definitive VAT system to replace the current 'transitional' VAT arrangements, applied since 1993.
Monday December 10th, 2018 12:00:01 PM
Chartered Accountants Ireland London Society Vice Chair and Council Member Peter Gavaghan called for continued unity amongst the Accountancy Profession in UK and Ireland as Brexit approaches.
A potential no deal scenario grows in probability ahead of Prime Minister May’s Parliamentary vote on Tuesday. At the 9th Annual Chartered Accountants Ireland London Society lunch, Mr Gavaghan outlined to the 100 local members, the tireless co-operation that has existed with the Chartered bodies before Brexit in London and indeed the step change in co-operation across CCAB bodies in the UK and Ireland since the referendum result. He referenced the definitive guide to Brexit ‘Taking the Lead: Chartered Accountants and Brexit’, recently published by Chartered Accountants Ireland and ICAEW as one of many tangible examples. He called on this co-operation to not only continue in the face of Brexit, but to continue to be extended to other critical areas impacting the profession including:
increasing scrutiny on audit;
technological disruption and keeping members skills up to date; and
recruiting the best and the brightest into the profession in the future.
As 2018 comes to a close and the unknown that will be 2019 approaches, it is imperative that we recognise that Chartered Accountants Ireland will not exist in isolation and we must seek to identify and maximise benefits derived from co-operation with other Accountancy Bodies close to home and not so close to home. Our greatest asset in this regard is our members and their networks across the globe, which must be utilised to the maximum benefit. Attendees at the London Society event included: Former Irish rugby international Paul Wallace, Institute Immediate past President Shauna Greely, London Society Vice chair Peter Gavagan and Institute Director of Public Policy and Taxation, Brian Keegan.
Monday December 10th, 2018 11:59:07 AM
The Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) failed to reach agreement on a digital tax at EU level at a meeting of finance ministers last week. Even last minute proposals by France and Germany to restrict the digital tax to advertising revenue of digital businesses failed to generate support from member states opposed to an EU level digital tax Ireland and Sweden were among such member states.
According to a press release released by ECOFIN, finance ministers engaged in a thorough analysis of all technical issues. The Austrian presidency put forward a compromise text which was deemed unacceptable for political reasons by a number of member states, while other member states were not satisfied with some specific points contained within the text.
Ministers also examined a joint declaration by the French and German delegations which firstly suggests restricting the digital tax to advertisement revenue generated by digital businesses and secondly, to align EU proposals on taxing the digital economy with the work of the OECD. The Austrian presidency concluded the debate with a recommendation that the Council working group continues working on the basis of the latest compromise text and the elements proposed by France and Germany.
Monday December 10th, 2018 11:58:33 AM
It’s been reported this morning that the UK Prime Minister has delayed the vote on the withdrawal agreement in the UK parliament that was scheduled to take place tomorrow night. The cancellation comes amid predictions that a majority of MPs would vote against the bill. In other developments, HMRC have sent letters to many traders asking them to take three actions in preparation for a possible no-deal Brexit.
The key vote
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has reportedly delayed tomorrow night’s vote on the withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons. Ms May had spent last week trying to persuade MPs to back the Brexit withdrawal agreement and there have been several reports in the media that she faced an almost impossible task in getting the vote passed. There had been suggestions that the Prime Minister should go back to the EU seeking some amendments to the bill. The EU was very clear when the bill was drawn up that this was the final agreement and it could offer no alternative. The possibility of a second referendum could be on the table too. Theresa May will address parliament at 3:30pm today.
EU leaders will meet later this week (13 and 14 December) and the agenda in relation to Brexit reportedly remains in draft. With just over 100 days to go until the UK leaves the EU, will Theresa May seek the EU’s help to get the bill over the line?
You can also listen to Brian Keegan, Director of Public Policy & Taxation speaking about what a no deal Brexit could mean for Ireland on LBC radio in the UK with James O’Brien.
ECJ says UK can revoke Article 50 unilaterally
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has said that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50 which provides for its withdrawal from the EU. This opinion is the same as the one reached by the ECJ’s Advocate General last week. Response to the decision in the UK was mixed with the Environment Secretary Michael Gove saying that the UK will leave the EU as planned in March. The ruling is reportedly one of the fastest ever made by the ECJ where decisions can take some months. However its understood that this case, which was first brought by a group of politicians from Scotland, was fast-tracked.
Preparing for a no-deal Brexit – letters to traders
If you are an EU-only trader based in the UK or Northern Ireland, you will receive a letter imminently from HMRC asking you to take three actions to ensure that you are prepared for a possible no-deal Brexit. Separate letters will issue to UK and Northern Ireland traders. It’s important to note that if you only import or export goods with Ireland across the Northern Ireland-Ireland land border, you do not need to take any of the actions set out in the letter.
The actions listed in the letters tell you to:
Register for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number using this link.Traders will need an EORI number to continue importing and exporting goods with the EU after 29 March 2019 if there is no deal agreed. Traders will also need an EORI number to apply for simplified customs procedures. We looked at EORI status as part of our Back to Brexit Basics series.
Decide if you will make customs declarations yourself or hire an agent to do so on your behalf.If you make declarations yourself, you will need to ensure that you have the correct software.
Make contact with the organisation that moves your goods (e.g. a haulage firm) to find out if they need any further information from you to make safety and security declarations for your goods. You may need to make these declarations yourself.
Read the text of the letter to UK and Northern Ireland traders.
More information on these changes can be found at www.gov.uk/hmrc/declare-goods and you can register to get updates on the UK’s exit from the EU using this link.
New customs funding scheme launched
The UK government have set aside £8 million to give grants to customs intermediaries and traders completing customs declarations. The grants support training and IT and applications opened on Tuesday (4 December).
Businesses are encouraged to apply early for the grants. Applications will close on 5 April 2019, or earlier once all the funding is allocated. More information on how to apply can be found using this link.
Read all of our Brexit updates and Back to Brexit Basics on the dedicated Brexit section of our website.
Monday December 10th, 2018 11:58:05 AM
HMRC is currently replacing the Government Gateway with a new platform. According to HMRC, the new platform is more secure and has additional functionality. Agents may need to take action by Friday 14 December to retain access. HMRC’s message below sets out the necessary action.
“We’ve already done much of the work and the new platform is already serving more than 7.5 million users. We remain on track to decommission the current Government Gateway by March 2019.
We are now at the point where we need to migrate a number of services that you and your fellow agents use - you may need to take action before Friday 14 December to retain your access.
Please ensure anyone in your company who accesses HMRC’s online systems is aware of this change and their responses are co-ordinated as appropriate by Friday 14 December.
What does this mean for me?
If currently you and your team access HMRC systems using the Government Gateway, entering your credentials each time, then you will not be affected and you do not need to do anything.
However we’re aware that a number of agents currently use their own systems to run background logins so their teams are logged in to HMRC systems in an automated way, you may call this silent login.
As we continue to improve security for agents we will be removing this functionality altogether and users will need to enter their Government Gateway credentials on the new platform each time they wish to access an HMRC system.
However, to soften the impact of this change, we are able to extend your automated access on an interim basis but will need some information from you in order to do so.
What do I need to do?
If currently you and your team access HMRC systems using the Government Gateway, entering your credentials each time, then you will not be affected and you do not need to do anything.
However if you currently use a background log in - so your access to HMRC systems is automated without the need to enter user credentials - then you’ll need to send us some user details by Friday 14 December so we can offer you an interim solution.
What details should I send you?
Please email email@example.com the full names, email addresses and Gateway ID credentials of anyone wishing to use HMRC online systems so we can ensure their access isn’t disrupted.
We will add these users to a secure access list and send you a new website address (url). You’ll need to amend your systems to point to this link as soon as you receive it.
You will need to have made this change by Friday 11 January 2019 or your access via automated login will be broken.
Once you have made this change you will be able to continue accessing HMRC systems using an automated method but only on an interim basis. HMRC has not yet set a date for removing this functionality altogether. We will be consulting with agent professional bodies and other stakeholders before agreeing a date, and will give you as much notice as we can.
We encourage you to start considering how you will need to change your working processes in readiness for the removal of automated access. If you build your own software then we strongly advise that you do not develop any further solutions that use this functionality as HMRC will not be supporting it in the future and you could lose access to HMRC’s services.
In consultation with the Professional Bodies’ Group we have created a question and answer set providing further information, you can view it at Agent automated login: Q&A.
Services on the Government Gateway are gradually being moved to replacement systems. All services will have moved by March 2019. Some services have already moved and cannot be accessed from the Government Gateway. How you access them will depend on the service you’re trying to use.”
END OF HMRC COMMUNICATION
Monday December 10th, 2018 11:57:34 AM
Chartered Tax Consultant booking deadline is this Friday 14 December. If you are considering this for your 2019 professional development, please contact Amy to discuss how this professional tax qualification will benefit you. If you are undecided, have a look at one of our recent participants – Fiona – tell us about her experience of the programme. Watch the clip here. Book your place this week for the January – December 2019 course.
Monday December 10th, 2018 11:57:04 AM
Brian Keegan, Director of Public Policy & Taxation talked about the harsh impact a no-deal Brexit would have on Ireland on Leading Britain’s Conversation (LBC) radio with James O’Brien in London on Friday. In his regular column in the Sunday Business Post, Brian discusses the difficult in forecasting the volatile corporation tax yield in Ireland. On the front page of todays’ Irish Examiner, Brian says that regardless of the result of the vote, tomorrow will be the start of Brexit for many businesses as they cannot afford to delay on spending on warehousing and stockpiling. Norah Collender, Tax Technical Manager, comments in the Sunday Business Independent on valuable tax refunds that workers may be entitled to claim before the end of the year.
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