Western Society News

News

In these uniquely challenging circumstances, how can accountants support non-profits? Patricia Quinn and Paula Nyland tell us that thoughtful and clear-eyed planning is needed to mitigate the challenges facing these organisations. Stories from the non-profit sector can paint a bleak picture of services threatened, vulnerable people at risk, fundraising decimated, and mature non-profit businesses facing unprecedented challenges to their viability. The emergency €40 million funding package provided by Government for the non-profit sector will go a ways towards buying some much-needed time, allowing these non-commercial businesses to take stock, regroup and renew their operations. If you look at the thousands of non-profits listed on Benefacts public website, you can see that the sector is highly diverse. At one end, there are heavily staffed health and social care service providers that derive most of their funding from the State in exchange for providing essential services. At the other end, there are thousands of small, local associations and clubs that rely mostly on donations and volunteer effort. These are uniquely challenging circumstances for non-profits and accountants have an important role to play in supporting them – whether as professional advisors or as voluntary Board members. As analysts of sector data, these are the kinds of situations Benefacts has encountered: Dependency on fundraising and donations is high, with almost €0.9 billion reported in the most recent financial statements of all the companies in Benefacts Database of Irish Non-profits. The pandemic has decimated traditional interactive fundraising in its many forms – whether event-driven, church gate collections or calling to homes to sign up to direct debits. Some high-profile campaigns have mitigated this, such as Pieta House, which raised €2 million after a push on social media, but this is only a third of the €6 million raised by last year’s ‘Darkness Into Light’ walk, with no alternative project to fill the €4 million gap. Online fundraising simply does not have the same impact. Many non-profits do not hold an adequate level of reserves. A good rule of thumb accepted by some Government funders is 10 weeks of operational expenditure. Sadly, few non-profits enjoy this level of security. In fact, many Government funders actively discourage the holding of reserves, with the result that several non-profits operate a ‘hand-to-mouth’ existence in terms of cash. Although the cost base of larger non-profits reflects the labour-intensive nature of their work, Benefacts analysis shows that in the case of many smaller non-profits (i.e. less than €250,000), non-payroll expenditure amounts to some 70% of their cost base. This means the COVID-19 subsidy will be of limited value. The demand for services is higher, and the costs of delivery will increase with the cost of delivering care with social distancing restrictions still active. This will have far-reaching effects in homelessness services, respite, residential care, and many more service areas dominated by non-profits. In the voluntary housing sector, income support payments have helped maintain rent payments but, without a further injection of funding, it will become harder to meet the demand for housing given the likely consequences for the coming recession for the building sector. Inevitably, the current focus is on the immediate issues, but for the medium-term, thoughtful and clear-eyed planning will be needed. Directors and trustees need to be looking at cash flow projections, potential increases in demand, and commitments to continued government support. Without this, sector leaders are telling us that tough decisions may be needed to cut services as early as Q3 2020. Although the emergency fund is very welcome, many organisations will need an early commitment of future government funding into 2021 and beyond to maintain essential services. The alternative could be closures, with all the unthinkable consequences for the most vulnerable in our society.   Patricia Quinn is the Managing Director of Benefacts. Paula Nyland is the Head of Finance at Benefacts.

May 14, 2020
Tax

The Revenue FAQs on the scheme are updated to version 8.  The main FAQ update includes the changes to the criteria for eligible employees to include certain employers who missed the 15 March payroll deadline for their February 2020 payroll.   Updated guidance on Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs for the scheme was also published  (20 April).  Both documents answer some of the common questions from members on the scheme.     The updates cover:  Staff transfers under TUPE – confirmed now in FAQs at 2.10 and Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs (pg 4). Treatment for group companies – confirmed in Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs (pg 4) Treatment for individual business divisions – confirmed in Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs (pg 2) Reduction in turnover test – further information and examples in Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs (pg 2 and pg 3) Operating the scheme from 16 April to support employees whose average net weekly pay was greater than €960, and their current gross pay is below €960 per week – information in the FAQs  Phase 2 of the scheme effective from 4 May – information now in the FAQs Revised employee eligibility criteria for wage subsidy scheme – section 3 of FAQs You are reminded that the scheme is provided for in legislation, section 28 of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020.  If you wish to cross check a reference to the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, you can do so on the Institute online version on TaxSource.    The Institute is constantly engaging with Revenue to seek clarifications on the operation of the Wage Subsidy Scheme.  The FAQ guidance has been revised eight times now since originally published, often to reflect the answers to the queries we have obtained.  We are reporting all updates on our COVID-19 hub and we are keeping our dedicated Wage Subsidy Scheme webpage up to date with relevant information.    

Apr 27, 2020
Tax

Members can now visit our dedicated UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”) page, which provides guidance on the scheme announced on 20 March 2020. Download our new factsheet on the who, what, where, when and why of the scheme. Last week the Institute’s UK Taxation Specialist Leontia Doran took part in an Ulster Society webinar on the CJRS. The online CJRS calculator has also now been updated. HMRC have also advised us today that payments for claims made on Monday 20 April will be in employers’ bank accounts by tomorrow (28‌‌ April). Readers are also advised that the CJRS guidance has been updated again. You are advised to bookmark these links and print a copy of the guidance which applied at the time you submit your claim for the CJRS grant. The updated guidance is available at the following links: Employee guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme Employer guidance, page 1: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme Employer guidance, page 2: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/work-out-80-of-your-employees-wages-to-claim-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme Employer guidance, page 3: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme Employer guidance, RTI: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/reporting-payments-in-paye-real-time-information-from-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme Now that the scheme is up and running we’d like to hear about your experiences of the scheme and online portal. HMRC also advise that any issues being experienced should also be reported to them via the online Agent Forum so that they can triage and respond to widespread issues more quickly. Remember, in order to do so you must have signed up for and be logged into the Forum. All agents, who are a member of a professional body, are invited to join HMRC’s Agent Forum. This dedicated Agent Forum is hosted in a private area within the HMRC’s Online Customer Forum. You can interact with other agents and HMRC experts to discuss topical issues and processes. The following live webinar provides a step-by-step guide on how to make a claim through the scheme: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – How to make a claim: choose a date and time During this webinar HMRC will be taking you through the following steps: essential information before you make your claim calculating your claim processing your claim after submitting your claim. If you’ve missed any of HMRC’s other recent webinars, or have been unable to join, you can view a recording on HMRC’s YouTube channel. HMRC have also sent the below update on the CJRS which contains important advice for claimants. “More than 285,000 businesses have already applied for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme since it went live on Monday 20 April. Accessing the system We have noticed that some people have had difficulty accessing the system because they do not have an active PAYE enrolment. In order to make a claim they will need to: have a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if they don’t already have a GG account, they can apply here, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for 'HMRC services: sign in or register'; be enrolled for PAYE online – if they aren’t registered yet, they can do so now, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for 'PAYE Online for employers'. I’m pleased to say that we were able to investigate and resolve the issue quickly thanks to the agents who raised an issue with authorisations when the new system first went live on Monday morning. Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Calculator We are updating the online calculator tool so that it covers more employment circumstances this afternoon. The update will mean that employers can use it to work out what they can claim for most employees who are paid irregular amounts each pay period, as well as those who are paid fixed amounts. Webinars now available To support businesses, we have been offering live webinars on a variety of Covid-19 related topics, including the Job Retention Scheme and how to make a JRS claim. Employers can book a place on our 'how to' JRS webinars here. They can book a place on any of our other webinars or watch a recording on HMRC’s YouTube channel If employers have already made a claim Employers should retain all records and calculations for their claims, in case we need to contact them. Provided their claim is made in accordance with HMRC’s published guidance, they can expect to receive the funds six working days after their application. We ask them not to contact us before this time. HMRC will check claims made through the scheme and will act to protect public money against anyone who makes a claim using dishonest or fraudulent information. We continue to be busy supporting customers at this time, so we would ask that they only call us if they can’t find what they need on GOV.UK or through our webchat service - this will leave our lines open for those who need our help most. We’d encourage all employers to also protect their own credentials from potential scammers and opportunist criminal activity.”

Apr 27, 2020
Tax

  Revenue published updated guidance on Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs for the scheme (20 April).  Updated FAQs, now version 7, has also been published (21 April).  Both documents answer some of the common questions from members on the scheme.    The updates cover: Staff transfers under TUPE – confirmed now in FAQs at 2.10 and Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs (pg 4). Treatment for group companies – confirmed in Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs (pg 4) Treatment for individual business divisions – confirmed in Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs (pg 2) Reduction in turnover test – further information and examples in Employer Eligibility and Supporting Proofs (pg 2 and pg 3)      Operating the scheme from 16 April to support employees whose average net weekly pay was greater than €960, and their current gross pay is below €960 per week – information in the FAQs  Phase 2 of the scheme effective from 4 May – information now in the FAQs You are reminded that the scheme is provided for in legislation, section 28 of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020.  If you wish to cross check a reference to the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, you can do so on the Institute online version on TaxSource.   We continue to correspond with Revenue to obtain timely clarifications and answers to members’ questions. We will report relevant updates as we receive them.    For more, visit our dedicated Wage Subsidy Scheme page on the COVID-19 Hub.

Apr 21, 2020
Tax

We have published a resource for members providing guidance on the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”), which was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Friday 20 March 2020. The content has been derived entirely from HMRC’s guidance and communications directly to Chartered Accountants Ireland on the CJRS. We will be developing a similar page in the coming weeks to provide guidance on the coronavirus self-employment income support scheme which is due to begin making payments by early June 2020. We have also developed an Institute factsheet on the UK Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme that sets out key information on the W5 (who, what, where, when and why) of the scheme. The Institute will continue to engage with HMRC on our members behalf in respect of COVID-19 supports and will share the most up to date information as it becomes available.

Apr 21, 2020
Tax

Now available: a dedicated page on the COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme This page is a summary of advice for members on the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme. Updated daily, it is providing the Institute's advice on the scheme under the following headings: Employer eligibility Publication of employers Treatment of employer top-up payments Revenue reconciliation Dealing with Revenue  Clarifications from Revenue  For more information see also Revenue’s guidance and Revenue’s FAQs, which are being updated regularly.  

Apr 07, 2020
Tax

Under the terms of the scheme, an employer can make an additional payment or ‘top-up-payment’ to their employee to fully or partially make up the difference between the amount provided by the subsidy scheme and the employee’s Average Net Weekly Pay.   According to updates to Revenue’s FAQs (section 1.6) published yesterday, such additional payment cannot be regrossed, the payment is treated as gross pay and liable to Income Tax and USC according to the employee’s tax credits and rate bands.   The legislation (Part 7) is silent on the calculation of the ‘top-up-payment’ and the treatment of such payment, so much depends on Revenue’s operation of the scheme and their guidance.   Such guidance is updated regularly, the FAQs are at version 5 since their first publication two weeks back.  We therefore recommend that members review the current Revenue guidance and keep a watch out for our timely updates which we are publishing to our COVID hub.  We will continue our regular engagement with Revenue and other government agencies to clarify operation of the scheme and other related tax measures.  Revenue has also added examples to the FAQ document (sections 4.4.1, 4.4.2, 4.4.3) showing how to calculate the Average Net Weekly Pay, the impact of the ‘top-up-payment on the amount of the subsidy the employer will receive and the PRSI class.  It is worth reviewing the examples to better understand how Revenue are operating the scheme.   Please also bear in mind that the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme is a government measure to provide financial assistance to employers and support their efforts to retain employees.  Any payments or repayments to Revenue under the scheme are to/from employers, not too and from employees.    Some details on the Revenue reconciliation of refunds received and amounts due to employers under the scheme are included.  Revenue say that further details on how they will administer the reconciliation and recover any amounts owing to them will be published in due course.     

Apr 06, 2020
Tax

We are receiving a high volume of queries regarding the Wage Subsidy Scheme and also other tax matters arising from the impacts of COVID-19, due to the issues showing up and the changes made by Revenue to the administration of the tax system.  We are endeavouring to respond to the volume of queries and engage with Revenue while also keep up to date on the changes.     Please note that we continue to contact Revenue regularly at a high level on all tax matters relating to Covid-19. We are requesting clarification on a number of issues raised by members.  We have also requested clarification from Revenue on a number of further issues raised on the Wage Subsidy Scheme.     We understand the difficulties and confusion for members, particularly those involved in payroll processing and related services.   We are working to obtain timely clarifications and as we receive relevant updates we are advising all people via the appropriate channels.     Please check in regularly on the COVID-19 Hub for latest updates.   

Apr 02, 2020
Ethics and Governance

From a governance perspective, COVID-19 will test the robustness of our legislation and our ability to take a more technological, and perhaps modern, approach, writes Claire Lord. The Irish Government recently announced additional measures to protect citizens by delaying the spread of COVID-19. One of these measures is social distancing, which requires individuals to keep a two-metre space between them and other people. This measure and the increasing restrictions on international travel is making it difficult for Irish companies to hold ‘in-person’ board meetings and to proceed with shareholder meetings, particularly annual general meetings (AGMs), in the usual way. Against this backdrop, what can companies do to allow business to proceed so as to comply with the law while protecting the health of its directors, employees and shareholders? Board meetings Generally speaking, the board of an Irish company can meet ‘virtually’. This means that board meetings can be conducted by telephone, video conference or a similar facility. For a virtual board meeting to be properly convened, all directors must be able to hear each other and speak to each other. At a virtual board meeting, the quorum is made up of those participating in the meeting. All participating directors are entitled to vote in the usual way and the location of the meeting, consequent on social distancing requirements, is likely to be the location of the chair. The board of an Irish company can also usually pass resolutions in writing. For a written resolution to be valid, it must be signed by all directors of the company at that time. A written resolution takes effect when the last signature is collected. A written resolution can be signed in counterpart and can be circulated and signed electronically. The fully signed version must be retained with the minute book of the company. The written resolution procedure can be used even if one of the directors is not permitted to vote. Where this is the case, the remaining directors sign the resolution and note the name of the director who is not entitled to vote and the reason why. It is always recommended that a directors’ meeting is held where the business to be transacted is contentious, or if it is anticipated that the business to be approved will not be supported unanimously. Directors must also meet where they are required to make a declaration of the company’s solvency as part of the summary approval procedure to approve certain restricted activities. Where these circumstances exist, meeting “virtually” is sufficient. The board of a company must also consider the location of its board meetings or decision-making where it is important from a tax residency perspective for them to be able to demonstrate that the company is managed and controlled in Ireland. Shareholder meetings Companies with AGMs due to occur in the months ahead should consider how best to proceed with their AGMs in a way that complies with the law, and affords shareholders the ability to participate, while observing the Government’s restrictions on mass gatherings. An AGM must have a physical location that is specified in the AGM notice. The quorum for an AGM is determined based on the number of shareholders present in person or by proxy, usually at the physical location of the meeting. Therefore, to avoid a large  number of shareholders attending at the physical location for the meeting, shareholders should be encouraged to appoint a proxy to attend and vote on their behalf. Ideally, shareholders should be encouraged to appoint the same proxy where possible (while always considering how a quorum will be achieved).   While an AGM must have a physical location, a company can permit participation by shareholders at an AGM via technology, once that technology permits shareholders to participate and vote electronically.   Multi-member and single-member private companies limited by shares (LTDs) and single-member companies of other types can dispense with the legal requirement to hold an AGM by opting to carry out the business of the AGM by way of a unanimous written resolution.  Similarly, all company types can pass resolutions in writing.  In the case of LTDs and designated activity companies (DACs), this right applies regardless of any provisions in the company’s constitution.  Similarly, LTDs and DACs can pass majority written resolutions where a particular process is followed. Business as usual? We face significant uncertainty in the months ahead with the spread of COVID-19. Finding ways to conduct business regardless, while protecting the health of others, will test our ingenuity. From a governance perspective, it will allow us to see if our legislation is robust enough to support a more technological and, dare I say it, modern approach.   Claire Lord is a Corporate Partner and Head of Governance and Compliance at Mason Hayes & Curran.

Apr 01, 2020
Audit

Covid 19 is causing an unprecedented shock to the global business world.  As well as the business risks, companies and their auditors are facing many practical difficulties in preparing financial statements and conducting audits.  There is a great deal of uncertainty as to how the Covid-19 situation will continue to evolve.  We aim to provide links to relevant up to date advice and guidance and we will monitor developments continually and will update and add material over the coming months.  With input from members in practice dealing with these challenges daily we have developed a number of Frequently Asked Questions on auditing matters that are of particular relevance in the current climate and we will add further information and additional topics as they arise.   Published 30 March 2020  

Mar 31, 2020
Tax RoI

Revenue’s guidance to assist taxpayers and tax agents who are experiencing a range of difficulties caused by the impacts of COVID-19 deals with some of the common queries raised by members.  The Institute will continue to engage with Revenue, the Department of Finance and other key government agencies over the coming weeks.  We are reporting key updates in our special email bulletins, and all updates are available on our dedicated COVID-19 Hub.  The Hub collates information, guidance and supports from across the Institute to keep members informed and help prepare and respond to the challenges presented by COVID-19. 

Mar 30, 2020
Tax

The COVID19 legislation provides for the operation of a Wage Subsidy Scheme for employers (section 28 of the Bill as passed by Dáil Éireann).  It has emerged that businesses with significant cash reserves will not necessarily be disqualified from the scheme. During Dáil debates on the legislation the Minister for Finance addressed some of the deputies’ points on employers’ eligibility for the scheme.  Responding to Deputy Michael McGrath’s comments on businesses having cash for operating expenses and investments the Minister said “Deputy Michael McGrath presents the concept that the presence of cash reserves would in some way debar a company from participating in the scheme. I do not believe that will be the case. I think it is very possible that companies will have cash reserves, precisely for the reason the Deputy refers to, that they have costs coming up that they know they need to meet.”   Per Revenue guidance, eligibility for the Scheme will initially be determined largely on the basis of self-assessment and a declaration by the employer concerned.  A key indicator is that there is to be an expected decrease in turnover by 25 per cent for Quarter 2, 2020.  This decrease can be gauged by reference to Quarter 1 2020 for example, or against another reasonable reference period.     The Institute recommends that employers maintain any supporting records which clearly show the negative economic impact to their business arising from COVID-19.  This will simplify the handling of any follow up discussions or checks by Revenue post the crisis.  Examples of the types of documentary evidence are set out in the Revenue guidance.    There has been some commentary regarding the publishing of the names of employers availing of the scheme.  We understand that some businesses may have reservations about this.  However almost every business in the country is affected by the COVID-19 crisis, the list will be published after (and not during) the scheme, and there is precedent for companies which benefit from tax administered schemes such as the EIIS to feature on lists of beneficiaries.  We gather that many Revenue phone services are to be closed for the crisis period but the National Employer Helpline (01 7383638) is being maintained to deal with queries on the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.    Read Revenue’s guidance here and Revenue’s FAQ document may be useful. Revenue’s other information and advice for taxpayers and agents is available here.  We will continue to advise all members using the appropriate communication channels as soon as further clarifications and updates are received.  

Mar 30, 2020
Tax

Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 (Act No. 2 of 2020) was signed into law by the President of Ireland on 27 March 2020.  The text of the Act will be available on Irish Statute Book in due course.  For now you can read the legislation as passed by Dáil Éireann as well as the related debates and proposed amendments.   

Mar 30, 2020
Tax

Updated on 30 March 2020 The COVID-19 legislation was signed into law by the President of Ireland last Friday (27 March 2020). The legislation provides for the operation of a Wage Subsidy Scheme for employers (section 28 of the Bill as passed by Dáil Éireann).  It has emerged that businesses with significant cash reserves will not necessarily be disqualified from the scheme. During Dáil debates on the legislation the Minister for Finance addressed some of the deputies’ points on employers’ eligibility for the scheme.  Responding to Deputy Michael McGrath’s comments on businesses having cash for operating expenses and investments the Minister said “Deputy Michael McGrath presents the concept that the presence of cash reserves would in some way debar a company from participating in the scheme. I do not believe that will be the case. I think it is very possible that companies will have cash reserves, precisely for the reason the Deputy refers to, that they have costs coming up that they know they need to meet.” Per Revenue guidance, eligibility for the Scheme will initially be determined largely on the basis of self-assessment and a declaration by the employer concerned.  A key indicator is that there is to be an expected decrease in turnover by 25 per cent for Quarter 2, 2020.  This decrease can be gauged by reference to Quarter 1 2020 for example, or against another reasonable reference period.    The Institute recommends that employers maintain any supporting records which clearly show the negative economic impact to their business arising from COVID-19.  This will simplify the handling of any follow up discussions or checks by Revenue post the crisis.  Examples of the types of documentary evidence are set out in the Revenue guidance.   There has been some commentary regarding the publishing of the names of employers availing of the scheme.  We understand that some businesses may have reservations about this.  However almost every business in the country is affected by the COVID-19 crisis, the list will be published after (and not during) the scheme, and there is precedent for companies which benefit from tax administered schemes such as the EIIS to feature on lists of beneficiaries. We gather that many Revenue phone services are to be closed for the crisis period but the National Employer Helpline (01-738-3638) is being maintained to deal with queries on the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme. 

Mar 30, 2020
Careers

Working from home has become necessary for many people due to COVID-19. But how can you manage when it comes to working remotely? Eric Fitzpatrick gives us nine tips on how to successfully work remotely without going stir-crazy or losing productivity. The Coronavirus is forcing organisations and workforces to reconsider their current work practices. Non-essential travel has been cancelled, events are being postponed or moved to online platforms and companies and organisations have their staff work remotely from home.   At first glance, working from home can be appealing, but there is a downside to it as well. As someone who has worked from home for more than ten years, the following are worth noting when it comes to remote working.  1. Discipline  The key to working at home is discipline. Be clear about what time you will start and finish. Agree these times with your organisation. You might have more flexibility with your hours than you would in your office but it’s important to be clear about your hours. Build in the times and duration of your breaks. Know that you’ll take a break at 11am for 15 minutes. If you’re not disciplined, 15 minutes could easily become 30 minutes or longer.  2. Get dressed If how you dress is too casual, how you work might be, too. Wear work clothes. Working from home might mean dressing as you would for casual Friday in the office, but dressing for work gets you in the frame of mind for work.  3. Designate a workspace  If you have a home office where you can close the door behind you at the end of the day, great. If not, work from a space where you must be clear at the end of the work day, such as the family dining table. By removing access to the workspace, you remove the temptation to go back to work for a couple of hours in the evening.  4. Work in a room that is bright and airy Working in a dark office with no natural light can reduce productivity and enjoyment.  Create a tidy workspace and an environment that is conducive to effective working. Have a place for everything and place only that which you will need in that workspace. 5. Ditch your mobile Be without your mobile for as much as possible, if not needed for work. Leave it in another room if you’re working on a project from which you don’t want to be interrupted. You can lose up to an hour a day picking up your phone to check social media platforms. Remove the temptation.    6. Skip the chores During your working day, don’t put on a wash, do the weekly shopping, vacuum, change the bed covers, paint the kitchen or replace that lock. You’re being paid to work, not to get ahead of the housework.   7. Keep healthy  If you walk or cycle to work, working from home takes away the opportunity to get that exercise. Can you make time elsewhere to get in some activity? Your kitchen will probably be closer to your workspace that the office canteen is to your office desk. It can be very tempting to take 10 seconds to walk to the kitchen to grab a snack. Working from home, you might find yourself doing less exercise and eating more – a bad combination. Try to manage your activity levels and snack time. 8. Don’t go stir-crazy  Working from home can take a bit of getting used to. You go from working in a busy, noisy office to working in quiet isolation. At first, it seems great, then slowly the walls start to close in. The silence becomes too loud and you find you need people to interact with. Don’t go more than two days without speaking to colleagues or clients. Design your calendar to ensure you have regular contact with the outside world.  9. Turn on the radio Music can be a positive contribution to an effective workspace at home. Played in the background, it can replace the noise of the office and remove some of the quiet isolation.  Working from home can increase productivity, improve your quality of life and may become necessary for many people over the coming weeks or months. Knowing how to manage it can make it as successful as possible.   Eric Fitzpatrick is owner of ARK Speaking and Training.  

Mar 20, 2020
Press release

Project led by Prince Charles urges accountants to act on climate emergency Chartered Accountants Ireland today announced that it is one of 14 accounting bodies worldwide to become signatories to a call to action on climate change issued by “Accounting for Sustainability” (A4S). A4S is Prince Charles’ Accounting for Sustainability Project and was established in 2004 with the aim of promoting sustainable decision-making in business.  The memorandum of understanding signed by Chartered Accountants Ireland today states that signatories will commit to providing the training and infrastructure that accountants need, as well as supporting initiatives and providing the evidence needed to take action on climate change. In signing the memorandum, Chartered Accountants Ireland recognises that climate change is an economic, social and business risk that accountants must take action on collectively as a profession and individually as professionals working in the public interest.  The 14 accounting bodies signed up to the agreement represent a total of 2.5 million accountants and students worldwide, and now includes the 28,500 members represented by Chartered Accountants Ireland, the largest accountancy body on the island of Ireland. Barry Dempsey, Chief Executive of Chartered Accountants Ireland, said: “I am delighted to sign the Accounting for Sustainability memorandum, which commits Chartered Accountants Ireland to taking a leadership position on the need for greater action on sustainability, and to facilitating that change through our membership. We know that the role of Chartered Accountants is changing as the need to do business sustainably becomes more central to how companies and consumers operate.  We are focused on a future where members and the businesses they advise are better equipped to strive towards a net-zero economy sooner rather than later. We believe the accountancy profession can play a role in achieving climate change mitigation and adaptation. It will take commitment and it will take action, and we are pledging both today.” The signing of the memorandum is one part of a programme of sustainable initiatives already underway at Chartered Accountants Ireland. The Institute’s programme includes an Expert Working Group consisting of members drawn from practice and industry who are working to address the development of research and voice for the profession in the area of sustainability.  The Institute’s programme also includes an ongoing calendar of events, with networking, CPD training and professional development opportunities for members on sustainability, including most recently a Sustainable Finance event held at the Irish embassy in London, where members heard from a panel of experts on the challenges and opportunities for accountants and finance leaders working in this area. As a profession, Chartered Accountants are increasingly relied upon to advise companies on the policies and procedures that underpin doing business more sustainably and reporting on this fact for the benefit of stakeholders, customers and consumers.  About the Memorandum  As a signatory to the memorandum, Chartered Accountants Ireland is committing to the following actions: • To provide members with the training, support and infrastructure needed; • To support relevant market-based policy initiatives and incentives; • To provide sound advice to help governments to create the policy and regulatory infrastructure necessary for a just transition to a net-zero carbon economy.  The memorandum also includes pledges for professional accountants individually:  • To provide sound advice and services as organisations and governments develop and implement plans for climate change mitigation and adaptation; • To contribute to the efforts of their organisations to integrate climate change risk into organisational strategy, finance, operations and communications; • To use and implement existing and developing reporting frameworks such as those from the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures and the International Integrated Reporting Council. • To support sustainable decision-making within their organisations. The memorandum can be viewed in full here: http://www.accountingforsustainability.org/abn-climate-action ENDS Reference Fiachradh McDermott | Gibney Communications | 087 655 7070 | 01 661 0402 About Chartered Accountants Ireland Chartered Accountants Ireland is Ireland’s largest and longest established professional body of accountants founded in 1888. The Institute, which is an all-island body, currently represents over 28,500 members around the world. Chartered Accountants Ireland is a founding member of Chartered Accountants Worldwide, the global alliance that brings together over 1.8 million Chartered accountants and students in more than 185 countries. About Accounting for Sustainability The Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) was established by HRH the Prince of Wales in 2004 with the aim of promoting sustainable decision making in business. A4S works with Chief Financial Officers and finance teams, the accounting community, governments, regulators, policy makers and the wider finance community across the globe. A4S established the Accounting Bodies Network in 2008 to work with professional accounting bodies as they recognise and incorporate principles of sustainability in their organisations.  

Feb 25, 2020
News

While time management is important, attention management is how you make sure your priorities stay prioritised. Moira Dunne explains how you can make your productivity soar by identifying what is stealing your attention. Most people I know in business have very good time management skills. They set out their goals, prioritise their work and make a daily task list to get things done. In days gone by that was enough. Forward planning meant that work could be scheduled into the time available. By and large, an organised person could get all their work done quite routinely. However, those time management techniques were designed for a business world where people had control over their time. Blocks of uninterrupted time were easier to find and, in general, the plan for the day could be completed as expected. It was a business world without email, mobile phones, iMessage, WhatsApp, apps and social media. Technology has completely changed our work environment. Constant communication brings a steady stream of new requests and ever-changing deadlines. So allocating time to a task doesn’t mean it gets done. As soon as we check our email in the morning, our task list is already out of date, and when everything seems urgent, it is impossible to stick to our priorities. The steady stream of requests comes with an expectation of almost instant response time. So we generally work in a reactive, responsive mode. This is great for customer service and team cooperation, but it’s not conducive tor the achievement of plans and goals. Ultimately, the focus becomes less strategic and more operational, and business growth is affected. Attention management Right now, time management techniques have never been so important, but we have to supplement these techniques with skills to manage our attention. You have to ask yourself: how good are my attention management skills? Here are some tips on how you can become more aware of your attention and how to manage it. 1. Understand your attention Do some initial work to understand where your attention is going throughout the day. To spot patterns, track who and what distracts you. Use a time log for a few days to get the data on this. Make a list of those attention stealers to remind you what to avoid. 2. Protect your attention We often feel obliged to respond to new requests, emails and interruptions. It can be hard to say no to your customers or your colleagues. But we often end up working on something that has a lower priority than the work we planned to do. Empowerment over your time can give you the confidence to make decisions about client and office engagement. Decide on a reasonable request response time and communicate that to your clients and co-workers. It’s also important to ask yourself what tasks you’re doing that are outside of your specific role and priorities. With this knowledge, it can be easier to say no to others in the office. 3. Develop the right environment If you run your own business or manage a team, take a look at how easy or difficult it is for people to focus. Is there a noise level that can be improved? Can you work together to give each person some uninterrupted time throughout the week? Encourage people to focus on one task rather than multi-tasking. If your business allows it, turn off the phones at least some of the time. Provide a quiet room as a contrast to the open-plan office. Offer your office to your team when you are not there. Allow the use of noise-blocking headphones if it doesn’t compromise your service delivery. Above all, be creative. Come up with your own solutions for attention management that will suit your business. Be proactive, take control and be productive Let’s give some time to attention management. It is one of the most important business skills in today’s workplace. Combine this with the classic time management techniques and watch your productivity soar. Moira Dunne is the Founder of beproductive.ie

Jul 28, 2019
Brexit

Registering for an EORI number is just the first step to prepare for Brexit In order to continue to trade with the UK after Brexit, Chartered Accountants Ireland is urging Irish businesses to assess whether or not they have gaps in customs knowledge that could prevent them from trading with the UK post Brexit.    Regardless of whether customs duties apply, in order to move goods to, from and through the UK, customs declarations must be submitted to Revenue. Traders will need to have customs expertise and software to file these declarations; otherwise they will need to hire an agent to do this on their behalf.   Director of Public Affairs, Dr Brian Keegan said “Regardless of the form Brexit will take, Irish traders need to file customs returns before they can move their goods to, from or through the UK.  To complete the returns, traders need to know the goods classification number or commodity code, the customs value of goods and the origin of the goods to determine the amount of any duty payable.  Otherwise goods will be detained at ports and borders because Revenue officials will check that the proper declarations are in place. We are hearing about a critical shortage of customs expertise in the market.” Revenue estimates that customs declarations are expected to increase from 1.4 million to 20 million per year once the UK leaves the EU.   Dr Keegan said “Revenue has hired additional staff to deal with customs declarations and checks and businesses need to be proactive in their preparations to be able to complete paperwork. While, some traders are experienced in the customs formalities required to import and export outside of the EU, it will be a first for many other businesses, particularly the smaller enterprises.  We are urging these businesses to use the time between now and 31 October to upskill in the area of customs. ” While customs knowledge is critical, obtaining a customs registration or an EORI number is the first step that businesses must take to be able to continue to trade with the UK after Brexit.  Latest registration statistics from Revenue suggest that thousands of small traders have not applied for an EORI and these are the businesses that will be most affected by Brexit.  “Getting an EORI number takes three minutes and should be the starting point in terms of their plans but by no means the only thing they should do. Businesses need to look at customs software, get familiar with commodity codes and think about who will do the customs administration,” said Dr Keegan.  Regardless of the form Brexit will take, Irish businesses must do the following to prepare and they must do that now: Register online with Revenue for an EORI number – it takes a few minutes to apply and a number should issue immediately or within 3 working days if checks are needed Become familiar with the new customs administration, know your commodity code. Decide whether you will do the customs administration yourself or whether you need to hire a customs agent.If you do the customs yourself, you need to have computer facilities and software to do this to access Revenue’s Automated Entry Processing (AEP) system. Notes to editors To move goods into or out of the EU you need an Economic Operator and Registration Identification (EORI) number.  Therefore Irish and UK traders who trade with each other will need to apply for an EORI number. HMRC and Revenue use this number to identify you and collect duty on your goods. The number is also used when traders interact with customs authorities in any EU Member State.  In Ireland, you can register for an EORI number on Revenue’s EORI online registration service through My Account or ROS. In the UK, you can apply online to get an EORI number on gov.uk. Automated Entry Processing (AEP) system is Revenue’s electronic system, which handles the validation, processing, duty, accounting and clearance of custom declarations. About Chartered Accountants Ireland Chartered Accountants Ireland is Ireland’s largest and longest established professional body of accountants founded in 1888.  The Institute, which is an all-island body, currently represents over 27,000 members around the world.  The Chartered Accountants Ireland Brexit Action Group coordinates extensive lobbying and public information activities to help its members North and South of the border prepare for the departure of the UK from the EU. References: Dr Brian Keegan, brian.keegan@charteredaccountants.ie or Mob: +353 87 234 7329

Jul 23, 2019

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