Budget 2015 – Some Predictions

Budget 2015 is only a few weeks away – it will be announced on October 14th 2014. The earlier Budget day has resulted in less “leak”s because of the Dail summer holiday – but here are  a few possible  changes that we might  see in the upcoming Budget.

Property Tax Freeze – properties are due to be revalued for the property tax in 2017 – but there has been mention of  delaying this until 2019 – resulting in a freeze to rates . (Local councils will still be able to adjust rates up or down by 15%)

Taxation

Raising the threshold for the 41% rate of income tax

Changes to USC that will probably mean lower paid earners paying less but higher paid earners paying more.

Welfare:

Increase access to subsidised childcare and after school places by extending eligibility and rebalancing parental contributions for families making their way into employment.

New measures to assist low income families by improving the system of child income supports so that those moving from welfare to work will retain payments for children such as FIS.

Rent Supplement charges to allow low paid workers to claim  help towards rent payments.

Possibly more cuts to the  Household Benefit Package (Help towards fuel bills for some lower income housholds)

Maybe medical card means test changes for over 70′s

Students – Increase to the student registration fees

Alcohol and Tobacco – increases to duty.

There are some other peoples suggestions for Budget 2015 Here and IMF Suggestions here

NPPR Penalty Letters 2014

Thousands of people in Ireland and abroad have recently been sent letters by local authorities informing them they may have been  liable for the NPPR – (more details about NPPR here).

Even though the NPPR ended in 2013 – this may well be the first time these people have been sent any direct communication about it . The letters arrived just before the very unfair NPPR penalties are due to rise this weekend.  See more about NPPR Penalties Here

There has been  uproar about the size of the penalties – especially from people who live overseas and who say they knew nothing about the NPPR charge until they got these letters.

The first thing to realise is -  that these NPPR letters are just for information – they are not bills or demands.They have been sent merely to alert people  to the fact that they  may have an undischarged liability for NPPR (Non-Principal Private Residence Charge) .

The letters have been sent , it seems , to people who appear to have more than one address according to  Revenue records for LPT/Household Charge/ Income Tax etc. Some of these different adresses could be due simply to spelling discrepancies  or clerical input errors. There have also been examples where a child moved out of the parental home , not far away – but for some reason didn’t update his/her employment records – so after the “data matching” it  appears they have 2 homes.

If you only owned one house and that house was your main residence on the liability dates in 2009/2010/2011/2012/2013 – then you are not liable for this NPPR and you should ignore this letter.
If proof is ever required – here are some types  of evidence that could be used to prove a house was your main residence:

• Your Social Welfare or employment address as per your claim/payroll records for the period of liability.
• Driver’s Licence address
• Address where your car was registered on the liability date each year
• Inclusion on the Register of Electors

There will be some people who are liable but just won’t be able to pay the accumulated charge plus all the penalties – especially those people who couldn’t sell and had to rent out their “main” home whilst they moved into a rented house because of work etc.

There is some good news .. A recent change to legislation introduced the ability for local authorities to reduce or write off part of the liability.

Under Section 77 of The Local Government Reform Act 2014 .. guidance for the local authorities was issued by Minister Noonan  in March and it states :

Collection of Undischarged Liabilities

It is expected, in the majority of cases, that local authorities will collect the full NPPR charge liability from those owners . In some cases, this may be by means of arrangement by instalments, as set out further in section 5 of this guidance document.   Section 76 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014 may also be applied in exceptional cases where a local authority, having examined the circumstances of a case, is satisfied that some latitude is required to reasonably discharge the NPPR liability. In these exceptional circumstances the local authority may reduce or write off part of the liability.”

This is Section 76 – ” Subject to section 77 , a local authority may act as it sees fit to most efficiently collect undischarged non – principal private residence charge and late payment fee liabilities in respect of any such charge including, in the case of an individual being liable, reducing such late fee liabilities in circumstances in which the local authority considers that to do so would be most efficient for the collection of the undischarged charge and liabilities.”

The guidance continues .… “In every circumstance, local authorities should be satisfied they have taken the most equitable,efficient and economically beneficial course in the collection of the NPPR charge. In determining a course of action, local authorities should have regard to factors including ensuring equitable treatment of all NPPR owners; the cost of collection; the owner‟s circumstances and ability to pay; and the benefit to the local authority of prompt and/or structured payment of the charge.”

The guidance also says that Councils can consider claims of “hardship”  and that debtors who prove hardship can opt to make arrangements to pay the NPPR and fines in installments. Hardship claims will usually require evidence such as bank account statements, statement from accountant, latest audited accounts, determination of hardship by another public body, re- negotiation of mortgage terms.

There is no actual  definition of “hardship” and it is a matter for each individual local authority to consider the merits of each case that comes before it. It is principally a matter for the claimant to put their case forward, supported with appropriate evidential material.

If the initial claim of hardship is rejected by a local authority -  the claimant can appeal to a more senior officer in the local authority. If  if they are still not happy with the determination they can appeal to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Hopefully the local authorities will see that it is unfair to charge penalties that are six times the original charge – and will write off some of these massive charges.
Once contact is made with the local authority – any further penalties will not be added. The overall penalties are due to increase by 50% on Sept 1st 2014.

NB:  It is useful to know that Local authorities have 11 years to collect outstanding NPPR charge liabilities. After 31st March 2025  the 2013 liability is no longer a charge against a property which is sold

Students – Watch out for Fake Landlord Scam

A Student’s Union in Galway has reported  ” a number”  of incidents that involved students paying large sums of money in deposits to ‘landlords’ by bank tranfers. In some of these occasions after paying the deposit the ‘landlord’ had become uncontactable.

With a shortage of  student accommodation in Galway – students are being pressured into paying deposits fast in order to get a house – sometimes before even viewing it.  It is easy for anyone to put up an advert on websites with fake pictures then asking for a holding deposit. We urge all students (and other prospective tenants too)  to proceed with caution when looking for a house.

Tips: 1. Never pay a ‘holding deposit’, rent,  or any money without visiting a property. Satisfy yourself that the landlord is legitimate , has the keys and the  rights to rent the property.

2. The safest way is to make a payment by credit card in person at a letting agents’ office. A formal contract should be signed before any money changes hands.

3. Ask your students’ union or accommodation office about trusted or approved lists .

Discount at Marks and Spencer Ireland

We have  news of a a special discount at    Marks and Spencer Ireland

Spend €50 or more online and get  €10 off your bill with discount code : 10TREAT10. Use by 30th August 2014

Visit Marks and Spencers Ireland Here.

More Discount Offers  Here