REVENUE AT FAULT AS CONFUSION GROWS ON HOME TAX - Homes with vastly different market values have been bunched together in the new Revenue Commissioners guidelines on the property tax, fuelling confusion over the controversial charge. The online guide has been criticised for being too vague to help people, and could result in some homeowners paying the wrong rate of tax. And the Irish Independent has discovered a series of discrepancies which show how homeowners face a much more difficult task than expected when valuing their homes for the tax. It means that owners may have to carry out - or pay for - detailed research into what their homes are worth or run the risk of being fined up to €3,000 by Revenue for underpaying. This is because the Revenue Commissioners has banded together homes with widely varying market values. In one town of more than 15,000 people, all semi-detached homes are classed as being worth between €150,000 and €200,000, regardless of the number of bedrooms or size of the garden. However, sales data shows three houses with one, two and three bedrooms sold for different prices last year. This would result in annual tax bills ranging from €404 in a full year to €224 - a difference of €180 a year. Revenue has warned that homeowners must self-assess the tax, and will be liable if the tax is underpaid.
DOYLE HOTEL NETS $90 MILLION FROM SALE OF BOSTON PROPERTY - The Irish-owned Doyle Collection hotel group received $90 million from the sale of its Back Bay hotel in Boston in mid-February, The Irish Times has learned. US-based Loews Hotels & Resorts acquired the 225-room, four-star hotel in Boston from the Doyle chain. The sale price was not disclosed at the time of the deal. The hotel has been converted to a Loews Hotels brand and the New York- based company has announced plans to spend $8 million renovating it. The Doyle Collection put the Boston hotel on the market late last year through estate agent CBRE after receiving unsolicited approaches. It is understood there was keen interest in the property and the price achieved was considered strong. The Back Bay is a leased hotel that has been operated by the Doyle Collection since 2004. The lease was acquired in 2002 by the former listed Jurys Doyle Hotel Group, a predecessor to the Doyle Collection. Jurys Doyle paid $20 million for the lease and invested $45 million in redeveloping the former Boston police department’s headquarters. The Doyle group is also selling two of its three hotels in Washington DC - the Marriott Courtyard Hotel and the Normandy Hotel. It plans to retain ownership of the Dupont Circle Hotel in the US capital.
BRUTON SEEKS €100 BILLION DEAL IN US - The Government is seeking to hammer out a lucrative EU-US trade agreement, which could be worth up to €100m to the economy, writes the Irish Examiner. Richard Bruton, the jobs and enterprise minister, who is chair of the EU’s Council of Trade Ministers will meet high-level delegates from the Obama administration in Washington today, including ambassador Ron Kirk, the US trade representative, and Mike Froman, deputy national security advisor for international economic affairs. Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said agreement on the landmark deal would be one of the priorities of Ireland’s EU presidency. Mr Bruton said: “A new EU-US free trade agreement has the potential to boost economic activity on each side of the Atlantic by approximately 0.5% annually. This equates to a total of over €100bn in additional economic activity.” Today’s negotiations are part of a initiative launched by the US and EU in February to broker a new free trade agreement. The aim is to break down remaining trade barriers as well open up new markets in investment, services and public procurement. In addition, the talks will focus on aligning rules and technical product standards which currently form the most important barrier to transatlantic trade. “This has clear benefits to Ireland, where over 115,000 people are directly employed in over 700 US firms in Ireland,” said Mr Bruton.
BANKS RUSH TO REDRAFT PAY DEALS - Banks across Europe are racing to amend executive pay deals by the end of the month in an attempt to adhere to new EU bonus rules and secure shareholder approval at upcoming annual meetings, says the Financial Times. “It couldn’t be a more difficult time,” said one remuneration committee member whose bank’s annual meeting is looming in May. “Our lawyers thought they had all the paperwork done and signed off. Now they’re looking at whether they can redraft everything in time.” Banks and their shareholders were thrown last week when the EU pushed through a long-debated plan to cap senior bankers’ bonuses at the level of their salaries - or twice that tally with the express approval of investors. The rules are set to come into force in January 2014. “We’ve spent months structuring sophisticated schemes with our shareholders,” one bank boss said. “Now we’re going . . . back to the drawing board.” The most pressing problem relates to chief executives and other board-level executives, whose pay deals must be put to shareholder votes. While banks and their investors say it is too early to predict how pay deals will be restructured, most remuneration experts believe there will be significant salary inflation to offset the caps. Annual bonuses and long-term incentive plans are also likely to be amalgamated. Pay experts said that would mean chief executives, at present paid salaries of up to £1.5m, could expect basic pay to rise to between £2m and £3.5m. “Banks are going to have to roll up their sleeves to get these schemes restructured fast,” said one senior fund manager.