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High Tech

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Danske Bank has once again confirmed that it has no intension of disposing of its Irish banking interests. The banking group which owns National Irish Bank in the Republic and Northern Bank in Northern Ireland announced that Mr Ole Andersen has been appointed its new Chairman succeeding Eivind Kolding who will take over as the group’s new Chief Executive in February.

National Irish Bank reported a loss of €600m for the first nine months of this year but Mr Anderson said Danske had a strategy in place to deal with this situation. He confirmed that this did not include the sale of its Irish units whose losses have impacted on the group’s recent results.

Danske Bank Group (Danske) is the largest bank in Denmark and a major player in the Northern European financial markets.  Total Group assets at the end of June this year were €420bn.

Danske’s customer base includes personal, business and corporate customers where it operates in mortgage finance, insurance, leasing and asset management.

It has a market capitalisation of €12bn and a total tier 1 capital ratio of 16.6%

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Quick analysis and highlights

Bob Tallent

The Synergy Group

December 2012


I’m one of those people who sees the glass as being half full.  Instinctively, I find ways around things and the means to make things happen.  Yet, I’m looking at our recent budgets and am trying to find the way through the mess.  I’m old enough to remember the Halls Pictorial Weekly programmes in the ‘70’s depicting our minister of the day as Richie Ruin.  How are our present Ministers to be remembered?

Our Government has delivered our new 2012 budgets over 2 days on 5th and 6th December 2011.  Our 2 ministers delivered their budgets in order to achieve €3.8bn fiscal adjustment in 2012.  Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin delivered his own cuts in the public service and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan announced details of €1.6bn in tax increases and extra charges in the second part of the 2012 Budget.

Let me give you some good news first:

  • No changes in income taxes.
  • 9% reduced VAT rate for tourism sector remains unchanged.
  • Universal Social Charge: Exemption raised to €10,000 - this affects 330,000 people
    • Weekly social welfare payments remain unchanged
    • No change in excise duty on alcohol
    • €100 Household Charge is waived for those on mortgage interest supplement and those in unfinished housing estates
    • Corporate Tax Rate is to remain at 12.5%
    • Research & Development - €100,000 of expenditure can be used as tax credit and companies can use R&D credits to reward key employees
    • Mortgage Interest Relief:
    • No further reduction in tax relief applying to pension contributions despite the proposals in last year’s budget speech,
    • No changes to the Standard Fund Threshold or pension cap despite strong signals to the contrary.
    • 30% for first-time buyers between 2004 and 2008
    • 25% for first-time buyers in 2012
    • 15% for non-first time buyers
  • No change to the taxation of pension lump sums.

The highlights:

  • €3.8bn fiscal adjustment needed in 2012
  • €2.2bn of adjustment from spending
  • €1.4bn in day-to-day spending cuts
  • €20m earmarked for new Labour Market Activation Fund
  • €17 billion five year Capital investment programme.
  • €514 million investment in 2012 reflects the Government’s commitment to supporting the Enterprise and Research & Development agendas.
  • The IDA and Enterprise Ireland budgets continue to be prioritised to enable the job-creation agencies deliver on job and new investment targets.
  • Special Assignee Relief Programme to attract people with key skills to Ireland and Foreign Earning Deduction to support efforts by multinational and indigenous firms to expand into BRICS countries.
  • Support Small & Medium Enterprise to grow and create jobs by ensuring access to adequate, targeted R&D Tax credit regime and extension of 3 year corporation tax relief for start–up companies.
  • Revival of property, construction and development sector through reduction in stamp duty rate for commercial property from 6% to 2% and the introduction of a Capital Gains Tax incentive.
  • Enhanced Stock relief and retirement relief to enable the agriculture sector to continue to grow and expand on a global scale into the future.
  • Public Service numbers will fall by 6,000 in 2012 to 294,000 and there will be pay savings of €400m.
  • A reduction of 37,500 or 12% of staff over 2008 levels by 2015.
  • The overall cost of paying public servants will have fallen by €3.5 billion, or 20% over the 7 year period from 2008 to 2015.
  • New structural spending initiatives, such as:
    • the provision of €35m for the development of community mental health teams and services as outlined in “A Vision for Change” and €15m to fund access to primary care without fees to claimants of free drugs under the Long Term Illness Scheme
    • €10m for a new Microfinance Fund as well as a Temporary Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme to aid SMEs
    • €20m for a new Labour Market Activation Fund, specifically targeted at the long-term unemployed, to deliver upward of 6,500 new places next year.


Budget 2012 – Key Figures

  • Real GDP increase of 1.3% projected for 2012.
  • General Government deficit target of 8.6% of GDP in 2012 will be met in line with our commitments. This is an essential step towards regaining economic stability, ensuring the sustainability of the public finances and providing the platform to deliver sustainable growth and jobs.
  • €3.8bn in adjustments introduced in Budget 2012.
  • €2.2bn expenditure consolidation of which €1.45bn from current and €0.75bn from capital expenditure.
  • €1.6bn revenue consolidation of which around €1bn new tax measures.
  • Budget 2012 is not just about cuts and increased taxation. The creation of sustainable growth, jobs and protecting the vulnerable is at the heart of Budget 2012.

Minister Howlin’s part was:


  • €543m in net savings in the health area
  • Drug Payment Scheme monthly threshold up from €120 to €132
  • Extra charges on private treatment in public hospitals
  • 2% cut in disability, mental health and children's services, saving €50m
  • New measures will reduce the price of drugs
  • Staff ceiling of 103,800 employees to apply to HSE in 2012


  • Changes to the one-parent family payment will save €20.7m
  • Child benefit for first and second child unchanged
  • Cut of six weeks in the cold-weather allowance
  • Jobseekers' benefit to be based on five-day week
  • Redundancy and insolvency changes will reduce employer rebate from 60% to 15%
  • Back-to-School Clothing Allowance abolished for two/three-year-olds
  • Payments for new claimants of Disability Allowance cut to €100 a week for people aged 18-21, and to €144 for people aged 22-24.


  • €132.3m savings in education
  • 2% cut in Higher Education funding - €7m saving
  • Increase of €250 in third-level student contribution
  • Changes to fee and maintenance supports for new post-graduate students
  • Education expenditure will comprise 17% of all current expenditure next year
  • €19.2m in cuts to trainee and apprenticeship schemes
  • Primary-school transport charge to be doubled to €100


  • Savings of €105m in Department of Agriculture, Marine, Food
  • Savings of €45m in Department of Transport, Tourism, Sport
  • Savings of €34m in Environment, Community, Local Government
  • €52.9m cut in Overseas Development Aid
  • €79m cut in spending for An Garda Síochána

Minister Noonan’s part was:

  • VAT: Raised by 2% to 23%
  • Universal Social Charge: Exemption raised to €10,000 - this affects 330,000 people

Persons under the age of 70. Annual Income


Total income under €10,036


First €10,036


€10,037 - €16,016


Over €16,016


Over €100,000 (self assessed income only)


  • Over €100,000 (self assessed income only) 10%
  • Domicile levy: The Irish citizenship condition for payment of the levy is being removed. This will mean that liable non-residents will not be able to avoid the levy by changing their citizenship status.
  • Carbon Tax: Increased from €15 per tonne to €20 per tonne.  This means:
  • Alcohol: Legislation planned on low-cost alcohol
  • Cigarettes: 25c increase on pack of 20
  • Stamp Duty
  • Motor Tax: Changes to apply from 1 January
    • The Government intends to undertake a consultation process on possible adjustments to the current CO2 bands and rates for Vehicle Registration Tax and Motor Tax. The aim is to introduce new banding by 1st January 2013. All submissions in relation to this consultation process must be submitted to the Department of Finance by 1 March 2012.
    • Income tax: No increase
    • Farming
    • Capital Gains Tax incentive: Applies to property bought by end 2013 and kept for 7 years
    • Capital Acquisitions Tax: Up from 25% to 30%
    • Capital Gains Tax: Up from 25% to 30%
    • Gambling: Legislation planned on internet betting
    • DIRT: Up from 27% to 30%
    • Corporate tax: Exemption for start-ups extended
    • Approved Retirement Funds: Tax up 1% to 6% on transfer of funds
    • GDP: 1.3% growth forecast in 2012
    • Special Assignee Relief Programme: Initiative to attract key staff
    • 50% Employer PRSI pension relief abolished
    • 1.4c increase on Petrol
    • 1.6c increase on Diesel
    • €17.32 increase on Fuel Oil (to rise in May)
    • €14.46 increase on Natural Gas (to rise in May)
    • No Carbon Tax on solid fuels
    • No change to stamp duty on residential property
    • Commercial property rate lowered from 6% to 2%
    • Band A up €56 to €160
    • Band B up €69 to €225
    • Band C up €28 to €330
    • Lower commercial stamp duty rate will also apply to farmland
    • 50% stock relief on registered farm partnerships
    • 100% rate for certain young trained farmers
    • Incentives for timely transfer of farms before the current owners reach the age of 66

A little detail:

  • On Jobs - The Minister said the primary purpose of this Budget is to support the creation of jobs in the short term, the medium term and the long term.

-          He will introduce a Special Assignee Relief Programme, which will allow multinational and indigenous companies to attract key people to Ireland so as to create more jobs and to facilitate the development and expansion of businesses in Ireland.

  • On Absenteeism: Previously, the first 36 days of Illness Benefit and Occupational Injury Benefit paid to employees was tax free, resulting in the possibility of greater take-home pay for absentees. This exemption is to be removed, presumably to encourage employers to become more active in dealing with the problem of absenteeism, as has been the subject of discussion in recent weeks.
  • On VAT Increased by 2% to 23%
  • On Redundancy and Insolvency: The employer rebate of statutory redundancy payments will reduce from 60% to 15% on 1st January 2012
  • On Research & Development - The first €100,000 of R&D expenditure of all companies will be allowed on a volume basis for the purpose of the R&D Tax Credit.
  • On Start-up companies: To support the Government’s commitment to the promotion of job creation and indigenous enterprise, the Budget proposes to extend the exemption for start-up companies from corporation tax and capital gains tax. The proposal is to extend it to new companies which start in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
  • On Tourism - The Government was disappointed earlier this year when Aer Lingus and Ryanair were unwilling to provide additional flights to Ireland in exchange for the abolition of the Air Travel Tax.

-          A special allocation will be made in the Revised Estimates Volume early in the New Year in relation to The Gathering in 2013 and it will be launched on St Patrick's Day.

  • On Mortgage Interest Relief - The Minister is going to fulfil the commitment in the Programme for Government to increase the rate of mortgage interest relief to 30% for first time buyers who took out their first mortgage between 2004 and 2008.
  • On Rent reviews - NAMA has policy guidance where it can approve rent reductions when they are shown to be in excess of current market levels and viability is threatened. It allows for the appointment of an independent valuation of market rent where necessary. If a tenant is not getting satisfaction in negotiations he can contact NAMA directly.
  • On Property - Stamp Duty for commercial property transfers will be reduced from the current top rate of 6% to a flat rate of 2% on all amounts from midnight 6/12/11.
  • On First time buyers - For those who wish to buy a home in 2012: First time buyers will get mortgage interest relief at a rate of 25% rather than the 15% proposed by the previous Government.
  • On Mortgage Arrears – The Government is continuing with the implementation of recommendations made by a review group recently
  • On Household charge: €100 charge for your own house that you live in.  On NPPR, €10 charge for OTC payments and they are removing the exemption for properties leased to a local authority under the rental accommodation scheme, RAS and for those leased to the HSE.
  • On Banking: - Two pillar banks have SME lending targets of €3bn each this year, €3.5bn each next year and €4bn each in 2013.
  • On Legacy property tax reliefs - Property relief surcharge of 5% will be imposed on investors with an annual gross income of over €100,000.
  • On Universal Social Charge: • From 1 January, exemption level will be raised from €4,004 to €10,036. Revenue will collect USC on a cumulative basis next year.

-          Marginal rate of taxation on income is now 53% for PAYE workers and 55% for the self-employed.

-          The top 5% of earners pay 44% of income tax according to Revenue records.

  • On PRSI - Removal of the remaining 50% employer PRSI relief on employee pensions. Broadening PRSI base to cover rental, investment and other forms of income from 2013.
  • On Capital Acquisitions Tax - From 25% to 30% after today.
  • On Taxation The Programme for Government states that there will be no increase in income tax.  Wages and salaries in January will be no less than wages and salaries in December, so people will continue to have discretion on how they spend their income.
  • On Approved Retirement Fund Increasing the rate of notional distribution on the highest value Approved Retirement Funds and similar products to 6%. Increase the rate of tax on the transfer of an ARF on death to a child over 21 from 20% to 30%.
  • On Capital Gains Tax - From 25% to 30% after today.
  • On Capital Acquisitions Tax Reducing the Group A Tax-free threshold from €332,084 to €250,000.
  • On Carbon Tax - Increase in Carbon Tax on fossil fuels from €15 per tonne to €20 per tonne. Applied to petrol and auto-diesel from midnight 6/12/11.

-          Allowing farmers a double income tax deduction for increased costs arising from the change in carbon tax.

  • On Dirt Tax DIRT from 27% to 30%.
  • On Home heating - Not to be applied until May 2012. No increase of Carbon Tax to solid fuels, so no increase for coal or peat.
  • On Domicile Levy - Abolishing the "citizenship" condition for payment of the Domicile Levy so as to ensure that "tax exiles" cannot avoid it by renouncing their citizenship. Intends to keep the contentious issue of the tax treatment of tax exiles under constant review.
  • On Reliefs in Section 23-type investments will not be terminated or otherwise restricted for investors with annual income under €100.
  • On Public finances. Department now estimates the General Government Deficit for 2011 will be 10.1% of GDP, less than the 10.6% required by the EU/IMF. Target for 2102 is 8.6% of GDP.

-          Full measures already announced account for €600m; announcing additional new tax measures today worth €1bn approximately.

  • On Agri-foods - "Significant reductions" in the rate of Stamp Duty on the transfer of commercial property, this will also apply to farmland.

-          Modifying retirement relief from Capital Gains Tax so it better incentivises the timely transfers of farms and businesses before the current owners reach the age of 66.

-          50% stock relief for all registered farm partnerships and 100% stock relief for certain young trained farmers forming such partnerships.

  • Betting (Amendment) Bill: The final draft of the Betting (Amendment) Bill is expected from the Attorney General’s office early in the New Year. It is intended that this will come in to effect from the second quarter of 2012. This Bill allows for the implementation of betting duty on remote betting and a new betting intermediary duty for betting exchanges.


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