Irish Financial Review

Palladium beats gold as an investment choice

While Gold has been the public face of metals as an investment class, the most recent price surge has primarily been driven by investors. And to those that may need a little reminding about market trends that are driven by investors where there is an absence of sound market fundamentals, the experience of property should be enough to justify extreme caution.

But if metals are to be part of any investment strategy, palladium is worth a look-in. As a precious metal, it has a very important role in the car industry. Car manufacturers use it to in the manufacture of catalytic converters, which is one of the major driving forces behind its rise. In fact, this is one area of manufacture that is tipped for continued growth in the years ahead. Palladium is one of three precious metals used in the manufacturing process. Platinum and rhodium are the other two.

According to Bloomberg reports, Palladium prices were up 10% over the last quarter, compared with declines for a range of other metals including gold and silver.

Globally, car sales exceeded 80 million for the first time ever in 2012 and are expected to see further growth that will exceed 82.7 million this year, according to various industry experts.

Unclaimed Irish tax credits still available

Tax relief is still claimable as far back as 2009 to those that qualify and have not already done so.

Tax credits still available

Consumers must claim before the end of the year.

Key rates are as follows:

 Key Tax Allowance

2009

2010

2011

2012

Medical Expenses

20%

20%

20%

20%

Tuition Fees 20%, cap €5000 20%, cap €5000 20%, cap €7000 with €2,000 excess for full time courses 20%, cap €7000 with €2,250 excess for full time courses
Rent Tax Credit Single €400 Single €400 Single €320 Single €240

The rate at which tax relief can be claimed on medical expenses has been reduced from 41% in 2008 to 20% today. However, the relief is still available and can be claimed on most medical expenses incurred and on qualifying non-routine dental expenses.

·         The tax credit for tuition fees is still available. For the years 2009 to 2010 the maximum tax credit available was €1000. A change was introduced in the 2011 tax year where the relief does not apply to the first €2000 of qualifying fee or if less, the full amount. Similarly, for part time courses the first €1,000 was disregarded in respect of each claim. These amounts were increased to €2,250 and €1,250 respectively for 2012/2013 academic year. The maximum limit on qualifying fees remains capped at €7000 so the maximum credit available has been effectively reduced from €1000 to €950.

·         Rent credit has been reduced to €200 for a single person in the year 2013 and the tax credit is set to be phased out by the end of 2017. Taxpayers still have an opportunity to claim the rent credit back to 2009 (provided that they were in rented accommodation on 08/12/2010) and should take advantage of this.

Tax relief on bin charges was abolished for the year 2011 and subsequent years. However, tax payers may still claim relief for prior tax years as far back as 2009.

For further information, visit these useful websites:

www.taxback.com

www.revenue.ie

www.citizensinformation.ie

Permanent TSB promises to return to lending

Permanent TSB has announced a five-fold increase in its lending targets for 2013.

Promise of more mortgages in 2012

Mortgage market may grow in 2013

In a statement, the bank said it would be significantly increasing targets for areas such as mortgages, personal loans and credit cards.

It says this year it has a projected lending of €450m, compared to €90m for the whole of last year. Further increases are envisaged in subsequent years.

It says the ability to recommence lending follows deposits growth and progress on restructuring.

What remains to be seen is whether or not the levels of projected lending actually materialises in the year ahead. Similar projections by both Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Bank to significantly increase lending in 2012 fell well short where the overall levels of mortgage lending remained near a 40-year low.

A problem faced by all lenders since the peak of the credit crunch in late 2008 and ensuing bank bailouts by the State has centred on the severe levels of negative equity faced by many existing property owners. Loss of employment and credit problems have also posed problematic for bank underwriters where loan applicants often fail to meet minimum loan qualification standards.

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