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Ireland's Small Firms 'Cautiously Optimistic'

by Jason Gorringe,, London

05 January 2018

Nearly two-thirds of Irish SMEs believe the business environment is improving, but Brexit and the increasing cost of doing business are dampening the mood, according to the Small Firms Association (SFA).

The SFA has published its "Small Firms Outlook 2018" survey report.

The SFA said that the number of owner-managers believing that the business environment is improving has increased from 50 percent at the start of 2017, and from 61 percent in May, to nearly two-thirds at the end of 2017.

The SFA also found that 60 percent of its members are growing, with only four percent contracting. 71 percent of respondents indicated their intention to recruit over the coming year.

SFA Director Sven Spollen-Behrens said: "2017 has been a challenging year for small business. Whilst cautious optimism seems to be returning amid emerging wage demands, the increasing cost of doing business and Brexit dampens the mood."

Spollen-Behrens explained that a number of risk factors for 2018 were identified by survey participants. These included "wage inflation, the ability to attract talent, legislative and regulatory burdens, increasing business costs, as well as Brexit/[the] sterling exchange rate."

Spollen-Behrens added that full tax equalization between the self-employed and employees will remain a priority in 2018. The Earned Income Credit for the self-employed rose by EUR200 (USD242) to EUR1,150 from January 1, but the equivalent PAYE credit is worth EUR1,650.

According to Spollen-Behrens, "2018 has the potential to be a strong year, if the risks are managed effectively at firm and government level."

He said the time has come for the Government to "create a strategy for growth for small businesses with a special focus on tax competitiveness and the cost of doing business, especially in light of Brexit."

TAGS: tax | small business | business | Ireland | employees | tax credits | small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) | tax rates | tax reform | trade association | trade | inflation | individual income tax

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