NOONAN WON'T RENEW CAPITAL GAINS TAX RELIEF IN BUDGET 2015 - Finance Minister Michael Noonan said he won't be renewing the capital gains tax (CGT) relief on properties that have been held for seven years in Budget 2015 because there was, he said, a "wall of money" in the commercial property sector at the moment. Mr Noonan introduced the measure in 2011 to attract international investors and give a boost to the State's then beleaguered commercial property sector, writes the Irish Independent. He extended it for a year at the last Budget in October. But he said there was now no longer any need for it. "That has been enormously successful," Mr Noonan said. "At the moment there's an absolute wall of money wanting to invest in Ireland, to the extent that I'm not going to renew that incentive at the end of 2014. It's no longer necessary." The CGT relief for the first seven years of ownership, for properties purchased between December 7, 2011, and December 31, 2013, was extended by one year to include properties bought up until the end of 2014. When a property is bought in this period and held for seven years, the gains that it has accrued will not be subject to CGT.
STATE HAS ‘NO CONTROL’ OVER BANK BOSS'S PAY - The Government will not use its share in Bank of Ireland to oppose a €843,000 pay package for its boss, Richie Boucher, because to do so would be an “idle symbolic gesture” according to Finance Minister Michael Noonan. He said the State’s share in the bank is 14%, so voting against a renewal of Mr Boucher’s remuneration at the bank’s forthcoming AGM “wouldn’t matter, because it’s going to go through anyway”. The Irish Examiner says the Minister was responding to questions from Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty, who said it was an “obscene salary from a bank that has only been saved because of the sacrifices of the Irish taxpayers”. Mr Noonan argued that the pay for Mr Boucher was agreed by his predecessor. “I do not believe in gesture politics or idle symbolic gestures. The State has 14% of Bank of Ireland. How we vote on this issue at the AGM does not matter. It is going to go through anyway,” he said. The minister said the signal it would send to international investors “has to be carefully considered” adding that he did not want to do anything that “would damage the reputation of Ireland internationally by seeming to interfere in a commercial entity”.
WHEN THE FRENCH CLOCK OFF AT 6PM, THEY REALLY MEAN IT - Just in case you weren't jealous enough of the French already, what with their effortless style, lovely accents and collective will to calorie control, they have now just made it illegal to work after 6pm, writes today's Guardian. Well, sort of. Après noticing that the ability of bosses to invade their employees' home lives via smartphone at any heure of the day or night was enabling real work hours to extend further and further beyond the 35-hour week the country famously introduced in 1999, workers' unions have been fighting back. Now employers' federations and unions have signed a new, legally binding labour agreement that will require staff to switch off their phones after 6pm. Under the deal, which affects a million employees in the technology and consultancy sectors (including the French arms of Google, Facebook, Deloitte and PwC), employees will also have to resist the temptation to look at work-related material on their computers or smartphones - or any other kind of malevolent intrusion into the time they have been nationally mandated to spend on whatever the French call la dolce vita. And companies must ensure that their employees come under no pressure to do so.
CANADA SHUTS ACCESS TO TAX WEBSITE OVER 'HEARTBLEED' BUG FEARS - The Canadian tax authority has shut down public access to online services amid fears that a flaw in a widely used encryption method could be used by cyber criminals to access sensitive taxpayer information, says the Financial Times. The Canada Revenue Agency said the discovery of the “Heartbleed bug” - a serious vulnerability in OpenSSL software - had led it to temporarily prevent taxpayers from using the site “to safeguard the integrity of the information we hold”. The agency said it was trying to restore online services to ensure private information, as the shutdown comes just three weeks before the deadline for filing personal income tax. “The Canada Revenue Agency places first priority on ensuring the confidentiality of taxpayer information,” it wrote in a statement on its website. “Please be assured that we are fully engaged in resolving this matter and restoring online services as soon as possible in a manner that ensures the private information of Canadians remains safe and secure.” The bug, announced by security researchers from Codenomicon and Google Security earlier this week, is in the software used to secure about two-thirds of all websites including Google, Amazon, Yahoo and Facebook.