Archive for June, 2014

Know your rights before you travel abroad.

Planning a holiday is often a stressful time for consumers. Organising transport, accommodation and activities can be time consuming, particularly if not booked through a travel agent. If something does not go according to plan, this can distract you from the overall enjoyment of the trip. For this reason it is important that consumers are aware of their rights and entitlements before going away.

EU law guarantees certain rights for consumers throughout Europe. This includes legislation to protect travellers where flights are disrupted or a package does not turn out as planned. In 2004 an EU regulation was put in place to ensure certain minimum standards of care for air passengers where their flights are cancelled or delayed or they denied boarding. Under this regulation airlines must provide care and assistance to passengers, including information on their rights, meals and refreshments and accommodation, where an overnight stay becomes necessary. Depending on the circumstances, it is also possible for passengers on cancelled flights to seek compensation of up to €600 from the airline. The EU’s Court of Justice ruled in 2009 that passengers whose flights are delayed, such that they reach their final destination more than 3 hours after the scheduled time of arrival, may also be entitled to compensation. However, an airline is exempted from having to pay compensation where it can prove that the disruption was caused by extraordinary circumstances.

Package travellers have benefited from EU protection since the early 1990s. A dedicated EU directive, as transposed into Irish law by the Package Holidays and Travel trade Act 1995, sets out specific information which must be supplied to consumers before a booking is made. The legislation defines a package as a holiday that has been pre-arranged and sold at an inclusive price by a travel agent or tour operator, covering a period of more than 24 hours or an overnight stay and which comprises at lest two of the following three elements: flights, accommodation and/or additional service such as guided tours. Package travellers can turn to the agency’s local representative if something goes wrong while they are away. However, independent travellers, such as consumers who book each element of their holidays separately (such as flights and accommodation), do not currently enjoy the same level of protection. In this regard, third party, third party booking websites can lead to issues for customers. these are an increasingly common option as they allow prospective travellers to compare prices and deals but a booking made through these sites does not generally comprise a package within the meaning of the legislation.

EU legislation has also ensured that consumers are not charged excessive amounts for mobile roaming. As of July 1, 2014, the maximum operator can charge for roaming in the EU are 19 cent for making calls, 5 cent for receiving calls, 6 cent per text message and 20 cent per MB for data roaming. However, one key travel area currently not regulated at EU level is car rental. Hiring a car on holiday is a consistently popular option for consumers but it can have costly side effects.It is not always clear what exactly is included in the original rental quote and so consumers may end up paying extra for an additional driver, insurance or extras such as children’s car seats. If a vehicle is damaged during the rental pertiod, consumers may also be liable for the repair costs.

Other helpful tips for consumers this summer include:

1. Apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) through the HSE’s website-the card is free of charge.

2. Take out travel insurance for your trip but ensure you carefully read it.

3. Always read documentation and the terms and conditions of a contract before signing/making a booking. If booking through a third party booking site, consult the site’s terms and conditions as well as the service provider’s.

4. If you have a problem and incur additional expenses, keep receipts and where applicable,take photos.

5. When hiring a car, ensure you get sign out and return forms when picking up and returning the vehicle. Read the fuel, insurance and cancellation policies carefully and check for hidden extras!

 

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Things you should know about travel insurance.

If you are going away this summer make sure you have the right insurance cover in place to avoid any unpleasant surprises if you have to make a claim.
The key factors are as follows:
1. Value is key.
Look beyond price when choosing travel insurance cover and determine what level of cover a policy will give for various types of claim. Having said that price should should play a role in your decision making so shop around for the best rate.
Travel agents, airlines and tour operators often sell travel insurance as part of a package but you do not have to take their insurance. The best idea is to check what they are offering, compare prices and see if you can get better value by buying your travel insurance from another provider.
2. Think about your holidays plans. If you plan to kick back by the pool, you will need less cover than if you intend to have a dare-devil holiday. Keep in mind that certain activities such as skiing or diving may require additional cover as an add-on to the standard policy cost.
With some insurers such as AXA for example, winter sports such as skiing require an additional premium. with online insurer Multitrip.com, skiing and winter sports cover are automatically included in the premier plus cover level and can be added on to the policy for an additional premium for the insurer’s more basic packages, ‘essential’ and ‘premium cover’.
3. Don’t forget about discounts. If you have private health insurance you might be able to get a discount on your travel insurance. However, you will usually only be able to avail of the health insurance discount if your insurer provides adequate cover for hospital care abroad. With AA 20% discount applies for ‘essential’ and ‘extra’ policyholders who have private medical insurance in place but no private medical insurance discount is given with its ‘value’ policies. also buying your policy online is typically a good way to cut costs. Having other policies with an insurer such as home insurance or motor cover can help to cut your travel insurance bill.
With Multitrip.com there’s also a couple discounts and kids go free on family policies. Also keep an eye out for ad hoc offers.
4. How long is your trip for. If you are not a frequent traveller, single-trip policies can be better value but if you travel regularly it is often more cost effective to buy a multi-trip or annual policy. However, watch out for restrictions on annual policies, in particular the maximum number of days for each trip and the total number of days abroad covered by the policy.
5. Watch out for the excess. This relates to the first part of a claim which you must pay yourself. Some policies apply a standard excess regardless of the type of claim, while others vary the amount, depending on what you are claiming for. Excess vary considerably from one policy to the next so read the small print carefully!
6. Restrictions should not be overlooked. 
Travel insurance policies have lots of clauses and rules that could result in you not being covered when you think you are. For example, if you injure yourself after a few drinks on holiday, you could find yourself without cover.
7. Admin in advance will pay off. 
Don’t forget to take at least one copy of your insurance policy on holiday with you so that you have the insurer’s contact numbers and policy details if something goes wrong.
If you are travelling to Europe you can apply for a Europe-wise scheme to provide public health care to travellers. The European Health Insurance Card allows the holder to access healthcare services when travelling to other EU or EEA countries.
8. High value items could be tricky. Strict rules apply to the cover for high value items so take care when taking fancy cameras, phones, e-readers, sports equipment or jewellery on holiday. According to Aviva’s representative, the insurer will provide cover of up to €250 for valuables in total but will only pay if the valuables are attended by the person insured or are in a safety deposit box at the time they are lost, damaged or stolen.
Mutltitrip.com’s spokesman suggested that for items of higher value people should check with their home insurance as “these items should be insured already”.

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Things to Consider When Working Out Your Mortgage.

Buying a new home, whether you are a first time buyer or you are looking for a bigger home to move to, can be an exciting time. Investing in your future and finding a home that suits your requirements is such a rewarding experience.  The majority of homeowners cannot afford to buy a property for cash which means they rely on mortgages to get the financing they need to secure the property. This can be a daunting and pretty complex process. Before you start house hunting it’s advisable to work out your budget. This will enable you to determine how much you can afford each month.

It is always advisable to try and find a broker before you start your search. They can direct you to a mortgage calculator which can assist you in seeing how much you can expect to pay when buying for a certain price with a set down payment. a mortgage calculator can be exceptionally useful, helping you to decide how much you can spend on a new home without compromising your monthly expenditure.

Your next decision will be whether to choose a fixed or adjustable financing option. Adjustable are more risky in a sense that they fluctuate throughout the year. Often these are set for a certain period and then start changing according to current inflation and interest rates. Fixed on the other hand is taken over a ten to thirty year period and only increases with inflation, these are easier when it comes to budgeting for your new home.
Take into consideration that there nay be times every now ans again where you can pay in additional payments, this will impact your interest significantly and can help you pay off the amount much quicker. Most financial institutions will allow you to pay in additional sums, please ensure the one you chose caters for this, enabling you to reduce your loan within a shorter period of time.

Remember whenever you pay in lump sums to check the mortgage calculator to see how it impacts your overall balance. Many homeowners find that paying in extra over a few months of the year can have a welcome significance on their payable amount. Spend the time to check your credit report which is going to have a big impact on whether you are approved for financing and how much your repayments will be.

Another important factor which needs to be taken into consideration is your deposit amount. You can use the mortgage calculator to determine your repayments with different down payment amounts. You will find the higher the down payments, the less your repayments will be.
Another benefit to a larger down payment is that you may find it easier to be accepted for the financing you need. It is always worthwhile to save up for a while before taking the plunge and placing your foot on the property ladder.

Always discuss your requirements with a professional broker. Let them help you with a mortgage calculator to ensure you are able to afford the home you are interested in, reducing the risk of disappointment.

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Over 30,000 people set up new businesses in Ireland last year.

As reported by Irish Times on the 18th June, the rate of early-stage entrepreneurial activity is a the highest since the onset of the economic crisis, with more than 30,000 people setting up new businesses in Ireland last year.
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report, which is supported by Enterprise Ireland, Forfas and the Department of Jobs, shows an increase in the rate of total early-stage entrepreneurial activity in Ireland last year, to 9.2 per cent, up from 6.1 per cent in 2012. Ireland is now ranked second across the EU-15 and 9th among the EU-28 countries.
The report shows one in 11 of the adult population in Ireland is now engaged in some aspect of early-stage entrepreneurial activity.
The rate at which individuals are turning to entrepreneurship out of necessity continued a downward trend to 19 per cent from 28 per cent in 2012.

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Are You Ready To Sell Your Business?

After running a company for several years it is never too early for you to think about selling it. While creating a unique company that looks attractive to potential buyers and could result in a transaction, being truly ready to sell requires looking at the valuation, the economy and having the mindset to make it happen. Rather than to sell immediately, we advise companies to further build their value so that a successful transaction can be created. The first step in the process is meeting with the client regarding the company’s likelihood to be sold. Companies that are well run with a planned exit in mind usually have a better chance of being sold in quick time frame and at an attractive price. Having built identifiable value over many years, it is easier to illustrate the lower financial risk to a potential buyer. As a prepared business owner, consider the following areas in the journey to a sale:

The Valuation.

It is always best to sell a company under a situation of stable value rather than a distressed emergency. For this reason, we always recommend doing a thorough business valuation of the company first to understand exactly your starting point from a value perspective. It is very important to look deeply at the company’s intrinsic value using income and market methods, asset based methods, whatever is most appropriate for the current situation. You may be curious of the market value of the company bust as a starting point, you need to know what it is truly worth independent of sale. It is always better to build value first upon which the market recognizes in time. Once we complete the business valuation, clients often turn to us to consult on helping optimise their value from where they are to where they would like to be. These efforts are strategically planned prior to a successful transaction. Applying the appropriate attention to key areas of the business results in a higher valuation and higher sale price therefore this growth of economic benefits and lowering risk may likely take months to complete.

The Economy.

While doing a formal business valuation report, one must analyse the local and national economy at the time of valuation. However, to apply this to a potential sale, it is important to go a step further and plan on how the economy fits in to a specific sale process or company life cycle. Selling a company in a good economic environment often results in a better valued transaction. Industries vary and grow differently depending on the state of the economy. To orchestrate the most successful transaction for your company it is important to be patient for the times that allow for better selling environments. Firms are often called upon to help clients with strategic plans for the company to help them operate more efficiently in different economic environment. This results in illustrating lower risk to potential buyers due to the company’s ability to weather potential economic storms. Consequently the firms are also able to help plan a sale for a better economic time. the economy is always changing and it is important to make time your ally and not your enemy!

The Mindset.

While the stars may align in terms  of valuation and economy, it is important not to ignore the practical aspect of completing a transaction. Having the right mindset and being emotionally ready to sell require being in the right place so that the transition can occur.

You may be needed to help transition the company to new owners and the transaction may take longer than expected. And, if the transaction leads to retirement, how do you plan to spend your new-found time? It may be hard to leave the company that you have spent so long building. Being truly ready requires preparing yourself, your employees and creating the right exit at the right time for a smooth transition benefiting both the buyer and seller. These aspects are often overlooked and expertise in this process is often why we are hired.

Having a successful sale is not difficult if you are doing the right things right to complete the sale in an orderly fashion. It is important to value correctly, pay attention to the economy and watch out for the subjective characteristics to help the deal to go through. Ultimately a sale is about finding a buyer who matches that you are selling!

 

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What Is the Best Age to Start Saving Money?

The answer might be manifold……..The best thing to do is to look at your personal financial situation as well as your motivation behind your saving plan and in this article we will take an in-depth look at various aspects of saving money. Are your saving goals long or short term? While short-term goals are those that can be reached within a period of 6 months to a year long (exotic holiday, expensive pair of shoes that you absolutely must have), long term goals take 5 years or longer to reach, such as saving for retirement. Short-term saving goals require action immediately, such as building savings for an emergency fund which shiuld typically equal 3 to 6 worth of general expenses. The best age to start saving towards your retirement or other long-term financial goals is from your twenties or as soon as you start earning income.

What is your disposable income? When embarking on a serious savings plan of action, the first thing to look at is tour disposable income, namely the money you have left after paying your living expenses such as your monthly groceries, your insurance, car payments etc. The lower your disposable income, the earlier you should start saving. Save as much as you can, you never know which financial challenges may rear their ugly heads in the future.

How much you need to save? If you want to buy a car or a house, you will generally need to pay a deposit of approximately 10-20& of the purchase price. When saving for retirement, your replacement income should be identified so that you can determine what percentage you would need to live comfortably. if you come to the conclusion that you won’t be able to meet your goals within the minimum savings, you will have to review your budget and cut down on expenses where possible.

Where you should put your savings? For short-term goals such as holiday or a new car, you could open a deposit account or a traditional saving account. For long-term goals, a saving bond would be more beneficial. Saving bonds have a better interest rate than saving accounts and they are relatively safe.

Basically, the earlier you start saving, the better it is. In fact, there is no such things as being too young to plan and save for your financial future. If you are a parent, guide your children on their journey to financially responsible adulthood by getting them to start saving from an early age.

 

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Five contractors scams uncovered by Revenue.

The Revenue briefing notes revealed a number of examples where contractors had used aggressive and unauthorised tax tactics to reduce their tax bills, as follows:
1. One taxpayer claimed travel and subsistence and had records to show he was travelling within Ireland as part of his contract work. However, he was actually on his honeymoon in Florida at the time.
2. One taxpayer provided a return that showed he had an employee but during the audit it turned out that the employee was actually his childminder.
3. One contractor held the company AGM on holiday in Europe and tried to offset the cost against tax.
4. A number of cases were discovered where the contractors had made provision for pension deduction but it transpired they had no actual pension funds.
5. A number of instances occurred where companies were paying family members. On one occasion a parent over age of 80 was paid while a separate contractor was paying his nine-year-old niece.

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Revenue is to crackdown self-employed contractors.

As reposted by Ian Kehoe in The Sunday Business Post of 1st June, confidential briefing notes reveal that the Irish Tax Authority is is planning a crackdown on more than 1,000 self-employed contractors over the coming months, as it expands its €100 million contractor’s probe into a range of other sectors
The Revenue has decided to roll out the probe to a range of other sectors of the economy, after finding a high rate of non compliance on its audits of multinational contract workers.
Healthcare professionals, management consultants, technology and software contractors to come under investigation.
In effect, Revenue believes that some individuals are unlawfully benefiting from operating through a company. While many self-employed professionals classify themselves as contractors, the vast majority operate through a company structure. They then use that structure to bill their employer rather than being officially treated as a PAYE worker.
The focus of the investigation is twofold. First, it is assessing the level of expenses being claimed by contractors in the normal course of their work, which can be offset against the tax bill. The second element  of investigation is salaries being paid to family members, a tactic in order to minimise the tax bill.

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Home improvement scheme.

Thousands of homeowners, spurred on by a new tax incentive scheme, have spent more than €80 million on home improvements since October 2013. The Revenue Commissioners are now considering launching a new information campaign to raise awareness of the incentive scheme.
As advised by us on the 6th May, last year’s budget introduced the Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) Scheme which introduced a tax credit for homeowners for qualifying expenditure on repair, renovation or improvement work carried out on their homes by tax compliant contractors. The scheme gives a boost to the construction sector and addresses the “shadow economy”.
In April, Revenue launched an online system for the administration of the scheme, allowing tax compliant contractors to enter details of qualifying works and payments.
According to Revenue over 4,600 contracts in respect of 3,830 properties have been entered via the online system for the HRI scheme. For homeowners who avail of the scheme, a tax credit will apply in 2015 and 2016.

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Enterprise Ireland creates new start-up package for graduate entrepreneurs.

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A new €500,000 fund aimed at graduates is hoping to encourage young entrepreneurs to start-up new businesses.
The Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start fund, which will open to applications on the 9th July, will offer up to €50,000 in support for each successful applicant.
This Fund is targeted at business involved in activities such as: the internet, games, apps, mobile, SaaS, cloud computing, enterprise software, lifesciences, food, cleantech and industrial products. It is designed to help early-stage companies launch and offer new products and services in the international marketplace.
Apparently this fund is the first of its type for graduates and will provide a package of financial and developmental supports.

Please read more below:

https://www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/

 

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