Know Your Rights November 2017

citizens information

citizens information

Know Your Rights

A: Online shopping and import charges

November 2017

Question

I want to do some of my Christmas shopping on American websites. What are the rules about VAT and customs duties when shopping outside the EU?

Answer

You are importing goods if you buy goods from abroad online or from a mail order catalogue, or if you get goods that are sent as a gift from abroad. In general, when goods are imported into Ireland from a country outside of the EU, they become liable to import charges. These include VAT, customs duty and excise or other duties where relevant. In some cases, you can get relief from import charges.

If someone sends you a gift from outside the EU, and it is valued at under €45, you do not have to pay customs duty or VAT. To qualify for this relief, the gift must be of an occasional nature and sent from one private individual to another.

You can buy some goods from outside the EU up to a value of €22 without paying VAT. The value is calculated on the full value of the item, plus postage and duties. This is also the value that is used to calculate VAT, if it is payable.

If you buy goods from outside the EU valued at more than €150, you will have to pay customs duty as well. Customs duty is normally calculated as a percentage of the full value of the goods including the cost of postage, packaging and insurance.

VAT, customs duty and excise duty are always charged on excisable products (such as alcohol, tobacco and perfume) from outside the EU, whatever their value.

All packages received from outside of the EU require a customs declaration, which is usually completed by the sender. The declaration should include a description of the goods, the value and whether they are gifts or commercial items. Some websites offer to undervalue your goods to avoid import charges. This is illegal. You, as the importer of the goods, are responsible for ensuring that the information provided is accurate and that all duties and taxes are paid. Some websites may also promise delivery from within the EU, which would eliminate any import charges, but are in fact shipping their products from outside the EU. If this is the case, you are liable to duties and VAT.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.

 

 

Know Your Rights

B: Opening a bank account

November 2017

Question

My bank is insisting I must prove my identity to open a new account, even though I already have an account with them. What is required to open a bank account?

Answer

Under laws to prevent money laundering, there are minimum requirements you must meet to prove your identity when opening a bank account. These apply even if you already have an account with the same bank. You cannot use the same document to prove both your identity and your address.

You can prove your identity by producing one of the following:

  • Valid photographic identification in the form of a passport or driving licence.
  • A National Age Card (issued by An Garda Síochána).
  • An identification form with a photograph signed by a member of An Garda Síochána.
  • A document issued by a Government department showing your name. This must be verified by a person in a position of responsibility who will come to the bank with you and bring proof of their own identity. Check with the bank who they will accept as a person in a position of responsibility.

In addition, you will need one of the following as proof of address:

  • A current utility bill (such as a bill for gas, electricity, phone or TV).
  • A current car or home insurance policy with your address.
  • A document issued by a Government department that shows your address.
  • A list of your tax credits or a current balancing statement (P21) or a C2 certificate from the Revenue Commissioners.
  • A social insurance document that shows your address.
  • A letter from your employer or licensed employment agency to say that you have recently arrived in Ireland and started work but cannot provide evidence of your address here yet. This evidence will have to be submitted later.

If you have a problem opening an account and you cannot resolve it with the bank, you can make a complaint. If you are not happy with the bank’s response to your formal complaint, you can complain to the Financial Services Ombudsman.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below

 

 

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Know Your Rights

C: Better Energy Homes Scheme

November 2017

Question

Our heating bills are quite high because our house is difficult to heat. Is there a grant available to improve the insulation?

Answer

The Better Energy Homes Scheme provides grants to homeowners to improve energy efficiency in their homes. It is also available to landlords and owners of more than one property. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) administers the scheme.

You can use the Home Energy Self Survey on the SEAI website to identify areas in your home that could be improved to increase energy efficiency. You can also get a Building Energy Rating (BER) done if you are uncertain about your energy-saving options or what work to get done first.

Grants are available for roof insulation, wall insulation, upgrade of heating controls, high-efficiency boiler installation and solar heating. You can also get a grant to have a BER done after the energy-saving work is carried out.

To qualify for a grant, you must: own a dwelling built before 2006; use a contractor from SEAI’s registered list; use newly fitted materials and products; have work done that complies with the required standards; have a BER carried out after the works are done and use a BER assessor from SEAI’s National Register. You must have grant approval before you buy materials or start work.

Grants for qualifying measures range from a maximum of €300 for attic or cavity wall insulation to a maximum of €4,500 for external wall insulation on a detached house. Grants are paid after the work is completed and you have paid your contractor.

If you get three qualifying measures done, a bonus of €300 is payable on top of the grants. (A BER doesn’t count as a measure for this bonus.) A further €100 is payable on completion of a fourth measure. See seai.ie for full details of grants and bonuses.

If you are also claiming a tax credit under the Home Renovation Incentive, the amount of expenditure that qualifies for the credit will be reduced. You can contact SEAI at 1850 927 000 or [email protected].

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.


 

Know Your Rights

D: Complaints about health and social care professionals 

November 2017

Question

How can I find out whether a particular health and social care professional is regulated? I’m not happy with my treatment and I would like to make a complaint.

Answer

CORU is the regulator for health and social care professionals. It sets standards that practitioners must meet and maintains and publishes a register of practitioners who meet those standards. This register is currently under development. The system of statutory registration will eventually apply to 15 professions, regardless of whether the practitioner works in the public or private sector or is self-employed. CORU also handles complaints about the fitness to practise of registered practitioners – for example, complaints of professional misconduct or poor professional performance.

Currently, the registers for the following professions are in effect:

  • Dietitians
  • Dispensing opticians
  • Occupational therapists
  • Optometrists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Radiographers and radiation therapists
  • Social workers
  • Speech and language therapists

You can make a complaint to CORU about a practitioner registered in one of these areas. You can check the registers at coru.ie. Once all registers are open they will also include clinical biochemists, medical scientists, orthoptists, podiatrists, psychologists and social care workers.

You can get further information about the fitness to practise complaints process on the website coru.ie. To make a complaint about a registered practitioner, you need to download and complete the Fitness to Practise Complaint Form. For information about how to make a complaint about practitioners of health and social care professions that are not regulated by CORU, see the website, healthcomplaints.ie.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Co Wicklow Citizens Information Service which provides a free and confidential service to the public. See www.citizensinformation.ie for details of your local centre or phone our main office in Bray on 0761 07 6780

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.

 

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