What do I need to sort out tax on Fyffes shares?

Q&A: Dominic Coyle

I have old certificates for Fyffes and together they add up to the number of shares bought in the company. Can I use these certificate dates to give a purchase price for the Revenue Commissioners to sort out any tax after the Sumitomo purchase of Fyffes earlier this year?

What happens if I can find no other information with which to price the purchase from?

I don't need you to go back through the calculations as I simply don't get maths at all. But that is not important to me right now, as I hope my accountant will be able for that bit. What I really would appreciate is help with my general questions so that I can discover the numbers I need to give the accountant.

I still have Blackrock and Total Produce so do I need to include them in the calculations?

Ms N.K., email

The dicing and slicing of Fyffes shares makes it a real challenge to sort out what you may or may not owe the Revenue. And the clock is ticking. Capital gains on the payout to Fyffes shareholders by Sumitomo earlier this year was due last week – December 15th – so it’s not something any shareholder should be long-fingering. Delay will mean a Revenue surcharge.

I'm not going to go into the number crunching again here, most particularly because that's not helping you, you say. You're quite correct: your accountant should be more than able in that regard. And, in any case, Revenue has published worked examples of the sums as part of one of their regular briefing updates – Revenue eBrief #116/17 which can be found at http://iti.ms/2kIZCXg.

What you do need to give your accountant is details of how many Fyffes share you had, when they were bought and at what price. You also need to tell them any charges you incurred buying them, such as stockbroker charges and stamp duty.

And that’s where your problem is. You have the number of shares and the purchase date but not the purchase price. I’m assuming you also might not have details of stockbroker charges (which could reduce any bill slightly) and stamp duty (which depends on the price paid – and could also help reduce your liability).

Ideally, you would go back through bank statements to identify the transaction. That might require you contacting your bank for the information as you may no longer have the relevant statements to hand. They may charge for the service.

In any case, if there was no great volatility in the share price on the date they were acquired, Revenue will probably be happy to take the base cost as the number of shares multiplied by the market price on the relevant purchase date. Your accountant should be able to ascertain that fairly easily – though they too will no doubt charge for their time.

If you don’t have details of the broker fees, you won’t be able to deduct them form any bill unless you can get the details form the relevant broker – assuming they are still in business. Stamp duty can be worked out from the purchase price used by the accountant.

Not that it is any use to you at this stage but your story does illustrate the importance for investors to keep a record of the financial details surrounding all investment decisions.

Finally, as you still hold the Blackrock (now Balmoral) and Total Produce shares, you do not need to include them in any calculations or communication with your accountant.

Please send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2, or by email to dcoyle@irishtimes.com. This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice