The Sunday Times - Money Questions 12/07/09

Posted by Jill Kerby on July 12 2009 @ 21:13

MM writes from Dublin: We were unfortunate enough to have one of those dastardly endowment mortgages when we bought our first home in the late 80's.When we moved back to Ireland we got an ordinary mortgage but kept up the endowment savings plan part of the old mortgage as the redemption value was so poor.  Now that plan has come to its end and we have received its poor return and used it to pay off our mortgage. Is there any tax implication from the money that came in from the plan? 

Unfortunately, offshore investments taken out before September 20th, 1993 are subject to a 40% capital gains tax rate, and neither indexation or your annual CGT annual exemption apply, says the Revenue. (From January 1, 2001, such policies gains are treated as income “provided details of the disposal were correctly included in a person's tax return. Otherwise a charge to capital gains tax arises.”  You might want to consult a tax advisor about the size of your gain, and if there was a taxable charge in the UK, whether your Irish tax can be mitigated by the double taxation agreement with the UK. 





GM writes from Dublin: I have had a tracker mortgage with Ulster Bank since mid-2004. More than a year ago, my employer changed my pay day and instead of getting paid at the end of the month, I now get paid on the sixth of every month. However, Ulster Bank refused to change the day my monthly payment is due and insists it can only take the mortgage from my current account on the first day of every month. Because there is no money in the account on that day my the mortgage goes into arrears and as a result, I have been receiving a letter every month from Ulster Bank imposing an “unpaid outwards charge” of €12.70. I arranged with my local Ulster Bank branch in December to set up a separate current account so that I would have money for my mortgage payment but, despite several phone calls Ulster Bank didn’t start taking money from this account until May. Each time I receive a letter from Ulster Bank House Mortgages, I ring and ask for a manager and explain my problem. Each time they insist they cannot change the direct debit date. Why won’t they accommodate me?


Ulster Bank told me that the terms and conditions attaching to your mortgage state clearly that mortgage repayments must come out of your (and every other mortgage-holders’) account on the first of the month.  There can be “no flexibility to change this date”. Customers like you who need a different repayment date are advised, as you were, to open a second current account to feed the original account from which the mortgage payment is taken. If you avail of free banking there is no additional charge, says the bank.  Whatever about that charge, you have been penalised several times by the bank for missing your repayment by a few days, and I think you should not only demand a refund for these €12.70 penalties but that you also insist that your credit rating, which has been negatively affected at the Irish Credit Agency, be urgently restored by the bank on your behalf.  Ulster Bank suggests you speak to one of their new MoneySense officials at your branch, but if this still doesn’t sort out your problem I suggest you file an official written complaint with the customer services manager and then, if necessary, with the Financial Ombudsman. Spokespersons for AIB, NIB (and Bank of Ireland) told me they accommodate their mortgage customers who need to set new repayment dates, though the instructions need to be done in writing, with five working days notice. Ulster Bank needs to follow suit. 



KM writes from Portmarnock: I read your article on identify theft with interest. I once owned Eircom shares, which morphed and shrunk into near worthless Vodafone shares. I received a cheque by post annually. Now Vodafone has decreed one must have dividends paid into one's bank, or building society. The company has requested that I - and presumably other Vodafone shareholders - supply account details, otherwise they will hold the money. I do not supply such details to anyone and I pay bills by cash, or cheque. So, is Vodafone in breach of any data protection rules and have I any redress? In addition, is Vodafone entitled to hold onto someone else's money?

This proposal from Vodaphone to pay your dividend into a nominated bank or building society account cannot happen unless the amendments to the Articles of Association are approved at the company’s AGM on July 28th.  Once approved it will be perfectly lawful for the company to adopt this new payment method and you will be within your rights to decline to participate, but under the new articles, says Vodaphone, “your dividends will be held for you as a non-interest bearing deposit until you send us your completed Direct Credit instructions.”  You do have another option – to have your dividends reinvested in the company’s Dividend Reinvestment Plan (“DRIP”) from February 2010, the date after which one or the other option must have been selected by Vodaphone shareholders. The biggest long term gains from shares are made by re-investing the dividends; since you prefer not to provide any bank details, this might also be your best option. A pdf file of the Vodaphone proposal is available here: http://www.vodafone.com/etc/medialib/agm_09.Par.93293.File.dat/shareholder_letter.pdf

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