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During the holiday season, we might need to give gifts to people from outside our own country or culture. Navigating the cultural minefield can be difficult for business executives. One culture's prized gift can be another's cause for grave offence. Here are some tips for international corporate gift giving for the holiday season. What is taboo? In China, be sure to avoid the number four as it is considered bad luck (the pronunciation of ‘four’ is very close to the pronunciation of ‘death’), while the number eight is good, because it sounds similar to the word for wealth.  Giving a clock to someone in Chinese culture is a bad omen, suggesting they are running out of time. The colours blue and black should also be avoided because they are associated with funerals. In the UK, knives are generally not given as presents because superstition says it could cut through a friendship.  Similarly, in Japan presenting a knife to a colleague is seen as suggestive of suicide.  Broaches, hankerchieves and scarves in Italy also have a strong association with mortality and should be avoided. In Chile, a too-extravagant gift could be uncomfortable for the Chilean receiving the gesture, so stick to business-related gifts like leather notebooks and pens. A good gift in any of these countries is a coffee table book that reflects something about your own culture and background. It shows you appreciate the recipient and would like them to get to know you and your culture better. Presentation Both in China and Japan, gifts should be presented with two hands, since such a gesture implies the importance of the gift. The gift should be given at the end of the business meeting and never wrapped in white paper. In Brazil, gifts should only be given in informal settings and never too expensive, or it could be seen as a bribe. In Muslim countries, business gifts should be presented with the right hand and never comprise of alcohol. However, in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, only very close friends and family would give gifts, so maybe a handshake and a thank you would be most appropriate. Consider religious beliefs   The fact that not all the clients celebrate Christmas, Easter or other big holidays of the Christian world should be taken into account. Giving a gift to someone who cannot accept it because of their religious beliefs can make both the gift giver and the gift recipient uncomfortable. To avoid this, you can simply ask if they celebrate Christmas, for example, without getting into specifics about their religious preferences. It might be better to send a small token after the completion of a big project instead of a gift on a significant holiday. Appreciation Every time someone gives you a gift or does something special for you, always show good manners by sending a thank you note later, regardless of the occasion. To receive a present graciously, always open it when the person is with you. Always show enthusiasm and try and engage beyond a simple thank you for casually given gifts. If you know you are unlikely to write a thank you note, call them to say thank you, or send a WhatsApp or text message; it’s not ideal, but is better than nothing! It's the thought that counts In the end, it’s important to consider whether you are giving the appropriate type of gift, the value of the gift, the occasion when it should be presented, the way it should be presented, even the colours which should be avoided.  However, business gifts need not be sent out for Christmas only; there are several different groups of people that might warrant receiving a gift. When it’s difficult to decide who should be given a gift (whatever time of year), a good general rule of thumb is to send gifts to the people who help make your company successful.   “The manner of giving is worth more than the gift” goes a wise old saying. And that couldn’t be truer than in the case of corporate gifting, where every interaction counts in terms of the experience that it delivers.  You can read Orla’s last piece of corporate gift-giving here. Orla Brosnan is the CEO of the Etiquette School of Ireland

Dec 10, 2018

Read about Revenue’s housekeeping measures to ease the transition to PAYE Modernisation, the latest work streams of the Office of Tax Simplification and OECD comments on digital tax.           Ireland PAYE Modernisation is fast approaching, and the 1 January 2019 implementation date is now less than 30 days away.At Main TALC last week Revenue recommended some housekeeping measures to ease the transition. Read more Revenue guidance has been updated to include a table setting out the restrictions to claims for capital allowances, losses and group relief when a corporation tax return is filed late   UK Read about the latest work streams of the Office of Tax Simplification who met with the NI Tax Committee earlier this week HMRC’s latest Talking Points schedule features Making Tax Digital   International OECD Secretary-General says consensus on taxation of digital economy is within reach. Read more

Dec 06, 2018

Call comes as new report shows accountancy profession generates €12.9bn for Irish economy -  Ireland’s largest accountancy body, Chartered Accountants Ireland has today (Wednesday 28 November 2018) joined partner accountancy bodies in the UK to call on Brexit negotiators on both sides to ensure that the final negotiated exit agreement permits Irish businesses to continue to exercise their right to retain statutory audit firms based in Northern Ireland or Great Britain, and for similar rights to be available for NI businesses to retain ROI audit firms.  The Institute is also urging negotiators to ensure that the current mutual recognition of professional accountancy qualifications between the UK and Ireland is maintained, particularly in relation to auditor recognition.  In the Republic of Ireland, UK statutory audit firms are currently recognised under Irish company law. Barry Dempsey, Chief Executive of Chartered Accountants Ireland said: “As it currently stands, Irish businesses can choose from NI or UK firms to provide them with audit services. Such services are essential in the provision of financial assurance and reliable data on which to base decision-making.  In the event of a ‘no deal’, UK audit clients listed on EU regulated markets will need to put a contract in place with an EU registered statutory auditor (i.e. a non-UK firm) to get a second audit report on their December 2018 accounts. This would be an unnecessary and unreasonable expense for business. “Chartered Accountants Ireland is a regulatory body for the audit profession and registers 189 audit firms ‘located’ in the UK (mostly in Northern Ireland). Our current statistics suggest that 55 of those firms have Irish audit clients.  We believe that maintenance of the status quo will be critical to the public interest, given the role of financial information in securing the stability of markets and the extensive degree of market inter-dependencies. “Companies of all sizes, and those who draw their livelihoods from them, need to avoid any breakdown in the flow and availability of corporate information which could have broader repercussions on liquidity and investment. Even where an exit deal is negotiated, Brexit may lead to some economic instability. In these circumstances, timely and reliable financial information will be essential. Therefore we believe it is critical to avoid any disruption to the preparation of reliable information and the fulfilment of reporting requirements, which in turn could negatively impact governments in respect of their tax revenues as well as the stability of markets. “We welcome the discussions that have taken place with the UK Government about the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, which is highly relevant for all professions. The UK Government’s plans to pursue ‘third country’ agreements with the EU in all areas of accountancy and audit as well as the retention of joint UK-EU ownership of audit firms can be a workable starting point for more detailed negotiations. We believe, however, that there is a need to go significantly beyond this and to incorporate accountancy and audit within a deep economic partnership approach. To this end, we consider it vital that a similar type of UK-EU regulatory interaction is agreed as that already outlined by the UK Government for the financial services sector. “In the same vein, it’s a cause of concern that the recognition of reciprocal rights of statutory auditors and Chartered Accountants to practice on both sides of the Irish Sea is under threat as a result of Brexit.  As a result of their training and experience, Chartered Accountants are intrinsically and systemically involved in international business and commerce, so any loss of mutual recognition of the qualification would have a significant, negative impact on Irish business, including IFSC organisations, larger multinational groups and smaller private companies operating on both sides of the border.  Accountancy sector generates €12.9bn The Institute’s call comes as a new report released by the leading accountancy bodies in Great Britain and Ireland show that the accountancy profession in the Republic of Ireland contributed over €12.9 billion to Ireland’s GDP in 2017, equivalent to 4.4% of the total Irish economy, and only a little smaller than the economic contribution of the country’s real estate sector (€14.5 billion). The report, the first to quantify the contribution of the profession to the Irish economy, was produced by UK consultants Oxford Economics on behalf of CCAB (the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies). It shows that one-quarter of the €12.9 billion contribution (€3.2 billion) was generated by the accounting industry itself, with the remainder––around €9.7 billion––made up of the value provided by in-house accountants within other Irish industries. 61,200 jobs The report also shows that the accountancy profession in Ireland supported 61,200 jobs in 2017.  This is made up of around 37,900 people who were employed as in-house accountants across the Irish economy, along with 23,300 individuals were employed in the accounting, bookkeeping, and audit sector in Ireland. Accounting activities and supporting services directly contributed to €1.4 billion in tax revenue for Ireland in 2017. The clear majority of this figure, around €1.2 billion, was made up of “labour taxes” (encompassing Income Tax, PRSI, and USC), with the remainder representing taxes on the sales, profits, and purchases of Irish accounting firms. ENDS Reference:  Bryan Rankin, Marketing Manager, Chartered Accountants Ireland, M: 087 2047905 Notes to editors: 1. The CCAB’s report demonstrates the value of accountants to both the Irish and UK economies in terms of commerce, number of members, number of accountancy firms, GDP contribution, employment, tax revenues and purchase and export of accounting services. The report concludes that the accountancy profession plays a critical role in delivering important professional services to all sectors of the economy.  The combined membership of the five CCAB bodies – ICAEW, ACCA, ICAS, CIPFA and Chartered Accountants Ireland – amounts to some 275,000 professional accountants in the UK and the Republic of Ireland (415,000 worldwide). Read the CCAB economic report in full here.    2. As an all-island representative body, Chartered Accountants Ireland has been to the fore in advising businesses and commenting in the public interest on matters Brexit since the referendum was announced in February 2016. A series of publications, research projects and briefing events have been already provided to members, including ‘Taking The Lead’ a guide to Brexit for Chartered Accountants which was produced in association with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.   3. The Institute, which is constituted as an all-island body, represents 27,000 members and 1,700 firms across the island.

Nov 29, 2018