Fewer than four shopping days are left until Christmas, with retailers hopeful of a late surge of consumers despite reports of lower footfall of late.  

But away from retail, people might instead be looking at gifting money directly to family & friends or indeed charities. And, if they do go down this path, there are certain tax efficient ways to do so.

Head of Private Clients with accountancy firm Crowe Maeve Corr said there are a number of tax incentives people should be aware of.

"You can give €3,000 to anyone in a calendar year, and it's important to remember you're not limited to one €3,000 - you can give several €3,000 amounts to a number of people in a calendar year."

However, she added people should not "forget to do it before the 31st of December" to avail of this year's allowance.

"We a lot of parents doing this for children, but we also see a lot of grandparents thinking about the next generation and looking to give to them."

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Ms Corr points out that "over ten years this is really valuable, where you've two grandparents gifting to a child or a grandchild - over ten years you can build up a fund of €60,000 that can go towards education, it can go towards a house deposit, help seed a budding entrepreneur. 

"It's not as interesting as a Christmas gift but it can help in the longer term."

On how people declare this gifting, Ms Corr says that the €3,000 is self-assessed and doesn't need to be declared to Revenue as it's an annual allowance, but people should still keep a proper record of it.

Individuals and companies can also avail of significant tax reliefs when donating to charity.

Maeve Corr notes that "if you give personally the charity can get what is called a blended tax rebate of 31%.

"So, your €250 gift to a charity is valued at €362 to that charity and your money is really working better for that charities.

Businesses can also donate to charity and earn a tax relief by doing so.

"We often see this where companies are matching CSR activities, so if a company gives €2,000, it's only costing them €1,750.

"They often match what employees are doing themselves personally."

Ms Corr says though it's important to ensure the charity is on the list with Revenue so that tax relief can be claimed.

"That list is constantly updated, charities fall of it," she points out.

Businesses looking to give employees presents can also do so tax free up to a certain amount.

"A company can give up to €500 in a voucher to an employee - it can't be cash so be careful.

"Don't think you can write a cheque for them at the end of the year or pay a bonus. This extra €500 is an amount they can receive tax-free as a voucher."