Can I offset losses on Anglo shares against other gains?


I bought a small number of Anglo Irish Bank/IBRC shares on August 21st, 2007. These shares were suspended from trading on January 16th, 2009. I understand that an assessor was appointed during 2010 to establish the share value on nationalising.

Then in February 2013 the Oireachtas voted to liquidate the bank. My question is, when is or was the right time to offset the loss on these shares against gains on other shares? During 2009, 2010 and 2012, I sold other shares realising gains within the annual exemption amount of €1,270. I wrote off no losses. The gains in total are greater than my loss on Anglo/IBRC. Have I now lost the opportunity to claw back some of the investment value?

Can you refer me to any newspaper comments made at the time or in the intervening years on this subject? Do you think that there will ever be any compensation made to share holders?

Mr D.C., email

As taxpayers juggle with the price of the financial crisis trig- gered in part by the failure of Anglo Irish Bank, it is often easy to forget the unfortunate position of shareholders in the bank.

Irish people who followed “sensible” advice at the time to invest in blue-chip, income-yielding stocks like the banks, find find that much of their pension has now gone up in smoke.

The situation in Anglo is complicated, as you note, because while the shares were suspended in 2009, the bank was not liquidated until last year. I have checked with Rev- enue and it says that although the bank only went into liquid- ation in February 2013, it “accepts” that the shares were of “negligible value” since 2009.

That indicates that the loss was crystallised in 2009.

For you, the bad news is that this means you incurred the loss at that point and should have been offsetting those losses on any subsequent share transactions – such as those in 2009, 20011 and 2012, to which you refer.

Effectively, losses are offset against subsequent gains but that is done before you take into account any annual exem- ption to capital gains tax – the €1,270 you mention. So, instead of making gains within that €1,270 threshold on the three years in question, you have effectively been offsetting your Anglo losses. You mention that the gains in those three years are greater than your Anglo loss so, as you suspect, the position is that you now have no remaining losses to offset against future gains. It does sound a little unfair as you have engaged in sensible CGT planning, only to be undermined by the ghost of the wind-down of Anglo.

Will shareholders be com- pensated? I cannot say anything categorically one way or the other as the process is still notionally ongoing, but I would be very surprised if compensation becomes available. I certainly wouldn’t bank on it.

Can I claim
a refund from VHI?

Following the recent death of my uncle, it emerged that he had only just renewed his
health insurance with VHI.

What I want to know is whether it is possible to claim a refund on the money he paid?

I know it sounds stra nge but, given the price of health insurance, it would be good to see if it can be repaid. He hadn’t been ill and died suddenly, so I don’t think there would be any outstanding claims.

Mr M.B., Roscommon

This isn’t one that I have come across before but, as you say, health insurance premiums have now risen to such a level that it is certainly worth inquiring.

I have spoken to the VHI and it tells me that any policy with them is deemed to be cancelled on the death of the policyholder.

If it has paid in a lump sum, any refund will be paid back to the person’s estate. In the case of payments spread throughout the year on direct debit, the debit will be halted and any part refund returned in the same manner.

I know you said your uncle was not ill before he died but for information for those in slightly different circumstances, the VHI also stressed that any refund would not impact in any way on claims already arising but not yet processed in respect of illness or other before a person passed away.

I have not checked with the other private health insurers but, in the circumstances, I would expect they would have similar policies in place.

How much
did I lose
on Vodafone?

Would you advise how to cal- culate the loss (a) on return of value, €436 and (b) on amount received for sale of Verizon shares, €1,056. These amounts date back to original Eircom purchase, with no additional shares acquired.

Ms. J.P. email

Revenue put together a very good advisory piece ahead of the final allocation of the return of value, outlining how it would work from a tax perspective.

Now that was before the final terms of the return of vsalue were announced by Vodafone, and Revenue tells me it will be updating that advice next week.

However, on the basis of what we currently know, for every “old” - ie pre-return of value Vodafone share you held, you received a cash payment of 36.5 cent plus 0.026 of a Verizon share.

The Verizon share allocation was based on a Verizon share price of $47.1852 – which Vodafone advised was the average trading price in New York in the 20 days up to February 18th last. That equates to just above 89.5 cent per old Vodafone share.

Between the cash payout and the shares, the value of the return of value was fractionally above €1.26 a share. The Revenue has determined that the “base cost” on Vodafone shares for Eircom shareholders ahead of the return of value was €4.53 a share.

To assess the loss, it says you need to multiply this €4.53 per share by the return of value (€1.26) divided by that same figure plus the post-deal share price of the Vodafone shares. In this case that looks something like this: 4.53 x 1.26/(1.26 + 3.05), which gives you a figure of 1.32.

That would mean you are losing six cents per old Vodafone share – the difference between €1.26 return of value and the €1.32 base cost of that part of your Vodafone holding accounted for by the US business.

Leave aside the actual sums received and go back to the original number of shares hold, to work out your loss.

Please send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara St reet, D ublin 2, or e mail to This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

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