Q Following a long overdue visit to my dentist, I have been told I will need a lot of dental work over the next two years. Is it too late now to take out dental cover?
A Based on the details provided, it would be worthwhile considering some type of dental cover, according to Dermot Goode to TotalHealthCover.ie. DeCare Dental offers a range of plans to suit different budgets and the waiting periods are minimal compared with private health insurance.
Check-ups are covered immediately and basic dental treatment such as fillings and extractions are covered after three months, Mr Goode said. More comprehensive treatments such as root canal and crowns are subject to a 12-month waiting period.
He said you should contact the insurer and explain exactly what treatment is required and it will confirm the benefit payable, the plan cost and the relevant waiting periods, after which you can then decide if it is worthwhile joining or not.
There are other providers of dental cover in the market as well, including Vhi, but Mr Goode maintains that DeCare has the broadest range of dental plans to choose from.
Q I have read about ethical investing and an ESG approach. What exactly does this mean?
A ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. For those that are seeking an investment strategy with a focus on responsible investing, ESG is part of the fastest-growing investment categories on the planet, according to Frank Conway, founder of financial wellbeing provider MoneyWhizz and a qualified financial adviser.
The growing demand among investors means that not only do they want their investments to work for them personally, but they also want their investment choices to work for others, including employees of the companies they invest in, society at large and the environment in general. ESG investing broadly applies traditional financial analysis when assessing an investment, Mr Conway says.
However, it then layers an additional screen onto it; the consideration of environmental, social and governance risks. In other words, the investment potential is the first test while the ESG factors are the second.
So, the ESG filter looks for the financial outcome to be delivered in the best way that caters for the conditions of workers, the protection of the environment and so forth. In practical terms, using the example of an energy firm that an investor may be considering as an investment option, their decision to invest may be swayed by a sharp pivot by that firm towards developing greener alternatives.
A mutual fund manager would consider many emerging factors as they seek out the best ESG options available, Mr Conway added.
Q My employer put me on the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) for six months in 2020, so I’m sure that I now owe the Revenue money. But I have never actually done a tax return and never claimed for medical expenses. I am hoping one might offset the other. If I am due a refund will the Revenue pay the refund and continue to collect the TWSS over the next few years, or will they just use my refund to pay down what I owe?
A It all depends on the order in which the returns are filed, according to the consumer tax manager with Taxback.com Marian Ryan.
Unless Revenue decides to review your 2020 taxes at the same time as your 2017-2019 returns, which is extremely unlikely, if you have a refund in each or any of the years 2017, 2018, 2019, and an underpayment in 2020, you have two options, she said.
Firstly, file your 2020 return first to confirm the underpayment.
Then file for the years 2017-2019, which should result in some overpayments. Because the underpayment for 2020 is confirmed online, Revenue will then offset the 2017-2019 refunds against the 2020 liability to reduce or clear the underpayment.
Alternatively, you can file the 2017-2019 returns first and wait to receive any refund owed, after which you can submit a return for 2020, which may give rise to an underpayment.
Revenue will then reduce your personal tax credits in the years 2022-2026 to claw back the underpayment. It is up to you. Some people would rather get the refund now and pay the liability back incrementally over a longer period, whereas others would like to clear the tax liability as soon as possible.