Archive for the ‘SME’ Category

Sources of Enterprise Funding Available for Businesses turned down by Banks

May 15, 2014

money

Do you need help bridging a financial gap for your business, but the bank has turned you down? Don’t be disheartened; there are other sources of funding that might be able to help.

Quintas partner Yvonne Barry helps small to medium enterprises (SMEs) find funding when banks have said no. She’s a non-executive director of Microfinance Ireland, and also the Chairperson of Cork Foundation.

Microfinance Ireland (MFI) is a not-for-profit lender; established to deliver the Government’s Microenterprise Loan Fund. The fund forms part of a suite of financial schemes provided through the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to help businesses across all industry sectors.

“Many people have start-up or growing enterprises that may be commercially viable and need a loan, but don’t meet the conventional criteria required by banks”, explains Yvonne. “MFI has a much higher risk appetite; and are not profit oriented so the parameters are different. Helping create or sustain jobs is at the heart of what we do.”

Launched a year ago, MFI provide loans up to €25k for business of fewer than 10 employees; with an interest rate of 8.8% to be repaid over 3 – 5 years.

You’ll still have to show evidence of cash flow; turnover and a solid business plan, you can apply directly or via your local enterprise board who will help you with the application process.

The Cork Foundation can also help by providing access to funds for investment in Cork enterprise.

With some impressively experienced strategic advisors on the board, the Foundation works on finding funding solutions outside existing models. A unique aspect of the Cork Foundation is that it is self-funded through contributions from the Cork/Irish Diaspora, Cork based businesses and philanthropists. We aim to connect contributors directly to private and community enterprises in Cork City and County.

“Applying for a loan is an arduous and daunting prospect; and being turned down is very dispiriting”, says Yvonne. “We’d like to see more people realise that there is funding out there”, says Yvonne, “Nobody is going to drop it into your lap; as with most things worth fighting for, it’ll take an extra bit of drive to get it over the line!”

An entrepreneurial spirit; a passion for your business and the commitment to make it work are what success stories are made of.

For further information call Yvonne Barry at Quintas on 021 464 1400

www.quintas.ie

www.microfinanceireland.ie

www.corkfoundation.com

Article as recently featured in the Cork News.

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Business Start Up “I’m going out on my own with another fella”

April 5, 2013

130806609953pvwQAs an Accountant I’ve heard some great stories over the years from the diverse range of characters I’ve met. Possibly my favourite saying is the rather peculiar “I’m going out on my own with another fella” although you’d also hear the less kosher saying “I am taking on a fella next week he’s been working with me the past two months”. Both of these would be used by people to explain that they were getting into business with a partner or a colleague or in the latter case expanding and employing staff.

Unfortunately in the current environment the sayings or the sentiment they express are used far less often as few people are tempted to take the leap of faith and set up their own business or expand and employ more staff. Yet ironically there’s possibly never been a better time to do so when one looks at the varied forms of assistance that is available. Anyone who is thinking of setting up or expanding a business should take the time to study the different options available for assistance.

A very brief description of the most popular forms of assistance are as follows:

Seed Capital Scheme – being able to claim back up to €100k of the income tax you paid over the past 6 years to invest in a start-up company.
Three Year Corporate Tax Exemption – Being able to make up to €320k tax free in the first three years of trading and not pay corporation tax on same.
Employers Job (PRSI) Incentive Scheme – No Employers PRSI for 18 months on taking someone off the live register and creating a new job. Also note the Action for Jobs initiative launched in Budget 2013.
MicroFinance Fund – Small businesses can avail of a loan of €25k for a viable proposal that the banks won’t lend to, due to the risk criteria.
Credit Guarantee Scheme – The Government may partially guarantee a loan to a business that the banks refuse to lend to if the business can demonstrate an ability to repay the loan.
Innovation vouchers – Free access or links for small businesses to Ireland’s public knowledge providers to the value of €5,000 to afford the opportunity to explore innovative ideas.
JobBridge – An internship scheme whereby businesses can employ a college graduate at no cost to the business for a period of 9 months. The graduate gets paid by the State.

There’s also several Grant Schemes with Enterprise Ireland and the County Enterprise Boards, Research & Development Tax Credits, Double Tax Reliefs, and the very attractive Employment & Investment Incentive (EII).

With all these schemes the devil is in the detail and you should research same very carefully and seek professional advice if indeed you are “going out on your own with another fella”.

Regards,

Fachtna O’Mahony

Fachtna is a Partner at Quintas.

The views expressed in this article are not reflective of the views or opinions held by Quintas. The material contained herein includes facts, opinions and recommendations which we neither guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of, nor do we endorse. We do not accept any liability for any act, or decision not to act, use, misuse or distribution resulting from use of this material

NEW BUSINESS START-UP TIPS

January 31, 2013

1336692185QCT392Starting up your own business can be a daunting task for anyone, and unless you are an accountant, the bookkeeping and accounting element of a new start-up can be especially testing. The current environment is posing significant challenges to new, small businesses, therefore getting all of your ducks in a row on start-up is vital. One of the most important “ducks” is your accounts. The following are some useful start-up tips that every individual should consider:-

  1. Start Off on the Right Foot

Make your business accounting function a habit. Set aside a regular time period every week to gather your records together, check and file documentation, invoices and bank statements.

  1. Separate your Banking Activities

Small business start-ups, especially sole traders, often use their existing private bank accounts to conduct their business activities. By keeping separate bank accounts for your business and personal activities, you will save yourself (or your bookkeeper) hours of work analysing transactions that have nothing to do with your business.

  1. Keep it Simple

Do not overcomplicate your structures or records. It will only become confusing and end up distracting you from what’s important.

  1. Value Good Advice

Get professional financial advice early in your start-up process. A little money spent early on can save a fortune correcting possible mistakes down the line.

  1. Software Packages

There are many very good accounting/bookkeeping packages out there, some of which are very inexpensive, are relatively easy to use straight out of the box, and will do everything a small business would require, including Sales Invoicing, Debtors and Creditors Control, Bank Reconciliation and VAT Returns. Consult your financial advisor as to which package best suits your needs.

  1. Don’t forget to get paid

This might seem obvious, but if you are not regularly tracking your invoices and debtor balances, invoices, and by default, payments will be missed. Months of extra credit will be lost to customers. The vast majority of customers will not volunteer payments and will need, at the very least, regular statements and gentle reminders.

  1. Sales to family and friends – Value Your Service/Product

Do not be afraid to ask for payment for services or products supplied to family or friends. Offer a discount if you wish, but value the work, service or product that you provide.

Starting your own business presents a significant number of challenges to even the best entrepreneur. Whether it’s Accounting, Marketing, Product Development, Sales, Manufacturing, Banking, etc., early planning and organising will help you face those challenges in a properly prepared manner.

Regards,

Eugene O’Callaghan

Eugene is a Partner at Quintas.

The views expressed in this article are not reflective of the views or opinions held by Quintas. The material contained herein includes facts, opinions and recommendations which we neither guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of, nor do we endorse. We do not accept any liability for any act, or decision not to act, use, misuse or distribution resulting from use of this material”.

Have you set Financial Goals for your Business in 2013?

January 24, 2013

1338615605yGFYQVPlanning is one of the most important parts of running a business, be it a multinational business or a small business. No business can thrive without setting realistic financial goals. A set of financial goals is like a road map for a business, always providing a progress report on where a business is at and where it is going. Starting without a roadmap is a risk and whilst you may eventually reach your final destination, don’t be surprised if you get lost along the way.

Here are a couple of the key stages to assist you in setting your goals:

  • Set aside a couple of hours in your weekly diary to work on your Financial Plan for 2013. Something as simple as the first two or three hours on a Monday morning might be suitable. Remember you will need to keep this weekly timeout in 2013 to review actual performance v’s plan.
  • The first step for setting financial goals is to calculate your monthly break-even amount. This is the income you have to generate if you don’t want to lose money. To calculate this you’ll need to list all your expenses. This might seem odd but the first expense you need to calculate is the personal expense of the business owner. Without this it is impossible to calculate the salary that must be taken from the business to cover basic living expenses.
  • Next calculate your fixed costs. Fixed costs are expenses incurred each month that would not be easy to get rid of – office rent, staff salaries, light & heat etc.
  • Now that you know what your fixed costs are you are ready to calculate a minimum income goal. Naturally your aim is to make a profit so add the target profit to the minimum income goal to arrive at the overall income goal.
  • Don’t forget to provide for cost of goods sold where applicable. If your average Gross Profit Margin is 40% and your annual income goal is €200k to cover your costs and profit, then your target sales will need to be €500k to allow for the purchase cost of the goods you have sold.
  • Finally break down your income goal into manageable bite sizes, spread throughout the year and adjust where necessary for seasonal fluctuations.

Once you have managed to set out your financial plan for 2013, don’t let it gather dust on a shelf in the corner of the office. Use the plan as a benchmark against actual performance on a weekly and monthly basis.

Regards,

Paul O’Connell

Paul is a Director at Quintas.

The views expressed in this article are not reflective of the views or opinions held by Quintas. The material contained herein includes facts, opinions and recommendations which we neither guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of, nor do we endorse. We do not accept any liability for any act, or decision not to act, use, misuse or distribution resulting from use of this material”.

Budget 2013 – a lack of positivity and innovation

December 6, 2012

budget-300x169As predicted the Budget will have a significant impact on all individuals but will effect middle class families in particular. A property tax, reduced child benefit payments, increased excise duties on cigarettes and alcohol and changes to the PRSI system were among the main measures announced. Average low to middle income families will lose up to €1,100 a year as a result of property tax, cut in child benefit and PRSI changes.

The Budget has had limited changes in income tax, namely;

  • USC – Eligibility test to pay the lower 4% rate is being amended to introduce an income threshold of €60,000 to those aged 70 years and over
  • Maternity Benefit to be taxable
  • PRSI – withdrawal of the €127 per week Employee’s PRSI-Free Allowance
  • PRSI – extended to unearned income, rental etc

The main form of taxation measures has been through indirect taxation, with

  • Property Tax introduced with banded system at 0.18% on residential properties up to €1m and 0.25% applying in excess of €1m
  • Excise Duty increases of €0.10 for beer, cider and spirits and cigarettes and an increase of €1 on a 75cl bottle of wine
  • Motor Tax increases

The CGT, CAT and DIRT rates all increased from 30% to 33%.  This increase to 33% on DIRT rate is applicable to ordinary deposit accounts and from 33% to 36% on long-term deposit accounts.

The tax relief on pensions will continue at the marginal rate of 41% but will be restricted to pension schemes that deliver a pension of €60,000 per year.

There were some positive measures introduced for business, namely;

  • Hauliers Diesel Rebate
  • Increase in cash receipts threshold for VAT to €1.25m
  • Enhancement of the start up company exemption
  • Extension of Film and EII Tax Reliefs to 2020

However, it is unfortunate that the Government did not take the opportunity to bring in more targeted measures rather than the generic nature of the SME 10 Point Tax Reform Plan. The Budget lacked any real form of positivity and it is a pity that nothing was introduced to assist the construction sector where unemployment levels are highest.

As always there will be further changes in the Finance Bill itself.

Regards,

Sean McSweeney

Sean is Tax Director at Quintas.

The views expressed in this article are not reflective of the views or opinions held by Quintas. The material contained herein includes facts, opinions and recommendations which we neither guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of, nor do we endorse. We do not accept any liability for any act, or decision not to act, use, misuse or distribution resulting from use of this material”.

Budget 2013 Predictions and Positive changes that can make a difference.

November 29, 2012

The only certainty in the upcoming budget on the 5th December is that in 2013 there will be further taxes increases (direct and indirect) and public spending cuts of approximately € 3.5bn to € 4bn. This will leave the budgeted deficit of the exchequer in 2013 of circa € 10.5 bn.

We have compiled below some of our predictions of the likely tax changes in the budget and some of our suggestions that we feel would assist the economy and in turn businesses recover in 2013.

Predictions

  1. Capital Gains Tax – Retirement relief and the tax free threshold of € 750,000 may be reduced.
  2. Capital Acquisitions Tax – for Business and Agricultural relief it is likely that both of these maybe reduced or restricted (current relief at 90%).
  3. Pension Fund limit – the current ceiling of € 2.3m will be reduced and there maybe a reduction in the current 25% tax free lump sum that can be taken on retirement.
  4. Higher Income Earners – given the governments commitment not to increase income tax rates,  there could be further increases in the USC for incomes above € 100,000/€ 150,000
  5. New tax on high value pensions – this could involve an increase in the current pension levy or a tax/surcharge on pensions over a certain value.
  6. Capital Gains Tax losses – given the losses incurred on investments over the last few years there maybe a restriction on the carry forward of losses against future capital gains.
  7. Property Tax – this will be in place in 2013 with a projected start date of 1st July 2013. There is currently a debate as regards how this will be calculated but it will probably be based on a valuation of the property with bands of approx € 50,000. To view the current value of properties sold in your area click the link to the Residential Property Register website .
  8. Old Reliables – increases in excise on alcohol, tobacco, petrol/diesel, carbon tax. Given the continued contraction in the domestic economy in 2012 it would be surprising if the VAT rates were increased but this could be on the table.

Suggestions For Positive Changes

  1. Stamp Duty exemption – on commercial property transactions where this involves the transfer of a personal property to a limited company as part of a debt re-structure.
  2. Property Tax exemption – for purchasers of new residential property for three  years. Given that a large portion of the sales proceeds of each house sale goes to the exchequer this would be an incentive for the property sector.
  3. House extension grants/tax credits – provide a grant/additional tax credits for house extensions/home improvements. This would involve pre approval of the grants and include all original documentation for the renovation before the grant is paid. This would reduce the level of loss to the exchequer due to the black economy.
  4. EII – Employment Incentive Investment – the inclusion of relief under the EIIS in the list of “specified reliefs” for the High Earners’ Restriction may be counter-productive. The EII scheme provides much needed funding to the economy which allows businesses to expand, export and employ the additional staff necessary to grow their business.
    It maybe advisable to follow the UK model that has decided not to include business reliefs in their new cap on income tax reliefs, on the basis that business reliefs are already capped and further limitations simply prevent investors from taking business risks. The three year investment term is also felt to be to short a timeframe for the company to build reserves to repay the EII investment.
  5. Job Creation Grants – this would be an annual grant for a new employee currently on the live register that will be paid on a monthly basis over 12 months. This will reduce the Social Welfare bill and also incentivise businesses to expand and employ new staff in 2013.
  6. Retain/reduce Employers PRSI at 10.75%.
  7. Merge the new Property Tax with the current NPPR charge – they are basically the same charge on property.
  8. Temporary Pension fund withdrawals – Consider allowing a once off drawdown from an individual’s pension fund. Both of these pension fund drawdowns will be subject to tax, PRSI and USC.
  9. VAT Cash receipts basis – increase the current threshold from € 1m to € 2m.
  10. Tax relief on investment in SME’s – allow tax relief for individuals providing an investment loan to a business.
  11. Entrepreneurial Tax – introduce a reduced rate of Capital Gains Tax (10%) for gains on entrepreneurship to incentivise business start-ups and job creation.
  12. SME Lending – this is an area that needs significant assistance as the level of lending is not sufficient and it is having a direct impact on the sustainability of businesses that need working capital during a period of significant change.
  13. Apply the current Capital Gains Tax rate to dividends from trading Limited companies. This would hopefully release funds into the economy that is currently tied up in Limited companies.

Regards,

Sean McSweeney

Sean is Tax Director at Quintas.

This post first appeared on the Sage blog as part of a series of Business advisory articles by Sage Ireland.

The views expressed in this article  are not reflective of the views or opinions held by Quintas. The material contained herein includes facts, opinions and recommendations which we neither guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of, nor do we endorse.  We do not accept any liability for any act, or decision not to act, use, misuse or distribution resulting from use of this material”.

Top tips for saving tax

November 15, 2012

It is that time of year again when self-employed people are preparing their 2011 tax return, before the online filing deadline of 15 November(today). Therefore it is an appropriate time to revisit the available tax reliefs to ensure that all tax payers, whether self-employed or a PAYE worker, are claiming all their available tax reliefs for 2011.

Most tax reliefs are now allowable at the standard rate of tax ie 20%, but there are some that are still available at the marginal rate ie 41%. They include tax relief on pension payments, nursing home fees, film investment relief and deed of covenants. The balance of the reliefs can be claimed by tax payers as a deduction from the tax they paid in 2011, at a rate of 20%.

The most common reliefs are as follows:

Medical expenses: Family medical expenses can be claimed as a tax deduction at 20%. Including non-routine dental expenses, on receipt of a Form Med 2 from your dentist.

Home carer’s credit: This is claimable by married persons who are jointly assessed and where one spouse works at home to care for children, the aged or incapacitated persons. The relief for 2011 is €810.

Rent credit: Tax relief may be claimed by tenants for the rent paid in respect of rented residential accommodation which is their sole or main residence. This relief was abolished by the Finance Act 2011, for new tenants but is available on a phased out basis for individuals who were paying qualifying rent under a qualifying tenancy before 7 December 2010. The tax credit for persons under 55 years is a maximum of €320 for a single person or €640 for a married couple and for persons over 55 years it is doubled.

Third –level tuition fees: Tax relief is available in respect of tuition fees paid to an approved college for an approved course. The maximum annual relief is restricted to €7,000.

Service charges: Tax relief may be claimed on a prior year basis on service charges paid. An upper limit of €400 applies. The relief has been abolished from 2012 onwards.

Tax payers beware!

When claiming tax relief it is important that you have the relevant documentation to verify the claim, as The Finance Act 2011 introduced new legislation whereby there is now a penalty of €3,000 payable, by any person who makes a false claim, regardless of how little the refund claim was.

Regards

Abina Kenneally

Abina is Tax Partner at Quintas.

The views expressed in this article  are not reflective of the views or opinions held by Quintas. The material contained herein includes facts, opinions and recommendations which we neither guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of, nor do we endorse.  We do not accept any liability for any act, or decision not to act, use, misuse or distribution resulting from use of this material

The advantages of EII for saving tax and raising finance.

November 8, 2012

To try and assist with the flow of investment funds, in last year’s budget the Government replaced the old Business Expansion Scheme (BES) with the Employment and Investment Incentive (EII). The main changes between BES and EII are

 1.       The investment term is reduced from 5 years to 3 years

2.       The scheme is now open to the majority of companies (some exceptions apply) as opposed to BES which was restricted to qualifying trades such as manufacturing and internationally traded service companies

3.       The amount that a company can raise under the scheme has been increased from €2m to €10m, subject to a maximum of €2.5m in any 12 month period

4.       Eligible investors may avail of tax relief up to 41%, with 30% in the year of subscription and a further 11% at the end of the holding period, subject to conditions been achieved in relation to an increase in employment levels in the company or funds been spent on research and development.

 Qualifying companies can raise EII money directly from Investors or seek money from an EII Fund. The Quintas Wealth Management (QWM) BES/EII fund was established in 2008 and over the last few years we have invested c. €7m in 12 companies. These companies are located around the country and in different sectors i.e. medical services, medical devices, broadband/connectivity, renewable energy etc.

 The principal advantages of a Fund investing directly in a qualifying EII company is that your money is spread across a number of companies in different sectors, with the companies vetted and monitored by experienced personnel. Generally we would review 15/20 proposals before choosing to invest in 4 companies. The Fund aims to invest in companies with the following criteria:

 1.       Capable and experienced management team

2.       Past the initial start up loss making phase

3.       At commercial volumes of production

4.       Seeking funds to expand or take over another business

5.       Not carrying too much debt.

 We have now launched the 2012 Quintas Wealth Management EII Fund.

If you would like to discuss the Fund in further detail or to receive a prospectus please contact Jim McCarthy or Kenny Kane at 021 4641480 (email jim.mccarthy@quintas.ie or kkane@qwm.ie). We are also interested in hearing from companies who meet our criteria and are interested in trying to secure EII funds.

Personal Insolvency Bill Explained

October 19, 2012

The Draft Personal Insolvency Bill amends outdated bankruptcy laws in Ireland as well as introducing a scheme for out of court settlement arrangements between debtors and banks or creditors.

 There are three strands to the out of court settlement procedures –

  1. DEBT RELIEF NOTICE (DRN) – This strand will permit the write-off of qualifying debts up to a maximum of €20,000.  You will be eligible for this if you have virtually no income, no assets, and have no realistic prospect of being able to pay your debts within the next three years.  A DRN can last for up to three years, and if there is no change in circumstances the debts will then be written off. 
  1. DEBT SETTLEMENT ARRANGEMENT (DSA) – This strand relates to persons with unsecured debts in excess of €20,000. This is an agreement prepared by a Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP) between debtors and creditors to repay an amount of unsecured debt over a period of five years.    Where a debtor performs all of his/her obligations specified in the DSA for the five years, s/he shall stand discharged from the remainder of the debts covered by the DSA.
  1. PERSONAL INSOLVENCY ARRANGEMENT (PIA) – This final strand applies to all debt secured or unsecured over €20,000 and less than €3,000,000 (or more in certain instances). A PIP will be appointed to assess the payment capacity of the debtor. This practitioner will then propose a PIA to repay an amount over a period of six years to the creditors.  If the PIA is successfully completed, all the unsecured debt is discharged and the secured debt is discharged only to the extent specified in the arrangement.

 Importantly a PIA will in general not require you to sell your family home as required under bankruptcy (now a 3 year timeframe). However all debtors availing of any of the above arrangements will be published on a publicly accessible register.

 Small Businesses need to be wary as personal insolvency is not just bank debt, it is for all debt and there is a train of thought that some individuals that did not have the wherewithal to become “bankruptcy tourists” in the UK  have been preparing to take advantage of the new legislation here. In particular businesses that advance credit need to look hard at their debtors and ramp up their credit policies if necessary before the legislation is enacted which could be as soon as four weeks.

 On the other side, over stretched borrowers should be meeting with an insolvency practitioner to tease out the pros and cons of a Personal Insolvency Arrangement versus Bankruptcy so they can make a decision and finally move on with their lives.

 In summary this new personal insolvency law will strengthen the hand of over stretched debtors to negotiate with their creditors but there will be no easy way out!

 Regards,

Yvonne Barry

Partner & Insolvency Practitioner 

The information as outlined above on the Personal Insolvency Bill is correct at the time of writing and subject to change”.

The views expressed in this article are not reflective of the views or opinions held by Quintas. The material contained herein includes facts, opinions and recommendations which we neither guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of, nor do we endorse. We do not accept any liability for any act, or decision not to act, use, misuse or distribution resulting from use of this material”.

St Peter and the Revenue Audit

October 4, 2012

For those in the Accountancy Profession and indeed those in Business Revenue Audits became part of our lives in the mid 1980’s.At the time as a young trainee I had but a slight exposure to same as this type of work was usually done by the qualified and senior staff. I do recall one prolonged and protracted Revenue Audit that was conducted on a client of a former employer of mine that had a rather unusual outcome. To protect the confidentiality of the parties involved I’ll refer to them as the Haulier, the  Accountant and the Taxman.

The Haulier had a very good business and a lot of his work was generated from the meat processing plants around the country. The Beef Tribunal had uncovered some rather sharp practice in the meat industry and by extension the haulage industry that was servicing the meat plants. Revenue had been instructed to go after the offending hauliers to collect unpaid taxes and put an end to their practices which unfortunately included our client.

This particular Revenue Audit lasted a considerable length of time and quite often the correspondence was extremely serious with meetings and discussion being very heated and ill tempered affairs. It’s fair to say the investigation took a serious toll on our client. As time went on positions became entrenched and as the Haulier battled for the very survival of his business, the Taxman was fighting hard for what he felt was rightly his in terms of unpaid tax, interest and penalties and was bringing the full extent of his considerable powers to bear.  As the negotiations were at their height but at the same time no agreement being reached something needed to give somewhere. A catalyst to breach the impasse and finalise matters was required and it came from a somewhat unwelcome and unusual source.

The Haulier suffered a massive heart attack, no doubt brought about at least in part by the stress he was under. Fortunately a doctor was in close proximity when he had the heart attack and while he was apparently “clinically dead” for a few minutes he was resuscitated by the doctor and survived.

My former employer the Accountant had become close on a personal level with the Haulier during the course of the Revenue Audit. He went to visit his client in the hospital in the days that followed. On hearing the story about being “dead” for a few minutes, the Accountant as a deeply religious man was intrigued and he inquisitively but naively asked his client did he remember anything and what was it like. The Haulier was a bit of a rogue and had a great sense of humour even in these darkest of times and he told his Accountant exactly how he remembered it.

“I remember feeling the sharp pain right across my chest and collapsing to the ground” he said. “I could see and hear all the commotion going on around me as I lay there but my eyes were closing and the noise was getting fainter” He went on “the next thing I remember was seeing this white light, I was been drawn towards it, my body was very light, levitating towards the light which was getting bigger and brighter as I got closer”. At this stage the Accountant was completely enthralled in the story. The Haulier continued “I could see the outline of the Pearly Gates and the tall imposing figure of St Peter standing guard at them, Peter motioned me closer to him and was just about to tell me to ask my question when I felt something tugging at my leg, holding me back as I was about to talk to St Peter. I turned around to see what it was and there he was, the Taxman holding on to me saying come back here you I’m not finished with you yet!”

The Haulier made a full recovery and eventually the Revenue Audit was brought to an amicable if expensive conclusion which was certainly assisted by the Hauliers health condition or as he liked to put it St Peters intervention.  The Haulier, Accountant and Taxman went their separate ways but I often wondered what he meant when he said “St Peter was just about to tell me to ask my question”. So all these years later I enquired when I met the Haulier by chance.

Well apparently, or according to him as he has first-hand experience, when you arrive at the Pearly Gates, St Peter affords you the opportunity to ask a final question. I can’t say I’m a religious person but I do have some faith so this got me to thinking if I did have the opportunity of asking one final question what would it be?

The doubtful will ask “Can I get in?” While the selfish will ask “Can I have another go?”

I put it to a friend of mine and he rather flippantly said his final question would be “What happened to Shergar?”  I’d like to think my final question would be more profound but I haven’t figured it out yet. What would your final question be?

Fachtna O’Mahony

Partner

Quintas