Are you one of the 137,000 people who have paid too much tax?

Revenue is urging Paye taxpayers to apply for tax refunds and credits before year-end deadline

Considering a renovation project? Remember to avail of the 13.5 per cent tax rebate scheme. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Considering a renovation project? Remember to avail of the 13.5 per cent tax rebate scheme. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

It may sound surprising, but each year thousands of us leave too much of our hard-earned income in the hands of the Revenue Commissioners by not claiming back refunds and rebates to which we are entitled. Indeed while the range of eligible refunds has shrunk – farewell bin charges – taxpayers can still claim money back on a range of expenses, including health expenses, tuition fees, flat-rate expenses, rent relief and nursing home fees.

Indeed in October, Revenue wrote to more than 137,000 Paye workers who had not applied for any tax refund in the past four years, urging them to submit a claim before the end of the year. Even if you didn’t receive a letter, you should act now if you believe you are owed money.

Taxpayers have four years to submit a claim, so if you have a claim going back as far as 2012, you only have until the end of December to submit it. Last year for example, Revenue refunded more than €444 million – or about €403 a head – in respect of almost 1.1 million Paye employee reviews . So it’s clearly worth doing; the question is why more of us don’t.

Straightforward process

The process to claim back your tax is very straightforward if you are a Paye worker. You just create a profile with Revenue’s MyAccount, which allows you to submit your claims via the online portal. Any money owed is then transferred by electronic transfer direct to your bank account, and online refund claims are normally paid within five working days, Revenue says.

To register for MyAccount, you will need your PPS number, date of birth, mobile or landline phone number, email address and home address. It takes about five days to receive a password for your account.

It’s also possible to hire a third-party services provider, such as an accountant or taxback.com, to claim the refund for you. The Revenue’s MyAccount service should be simple enough for most people, however, and it will save you having to pay fees for the service.

So what can you claim back tax on ?

Health expenses: It’s not as good as it used to be and you can’t claim for routine dental or eye care, but you can still claim relief at a rate of 20 per cent of most other medical expenses incurred. And you can still get relief at a rate of 40 per cent of nursing home expenses.

Remember, the relief applies only to expenses incurred after you are reimbursed should you have private health insurance. You don’t need to submit receipts, just keep them in case Revenue asks you to verify your claim.

Flat rate (employment) expenses: Are you a teacher? A pilot? A nurse? If you are, you may be entitled to a so-called “flat-rate expense” which reimburses you for the expenses you incur in performing the duties of your employment. You can check if you are eligible, and what you might be entitled to here. Teachers, for example, are entitled to tax relief of up to €518, a pilot (€275); and a nurse (€733).

Tuition fees: You can claim back tax relief at a rate of 20 per cent for money paid on tuition fees for yourself, or your children, for certain full-time and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses of at least two years duration. While the relief doesn’t apply to the €3,000 student contribution fee, you can claim relief on other fees of up to €7,000 per person per course.

Dependent relative tax credit: If someone you live with, and support, is incapacitated, and if their income does not exceed €14,060, you may be entitled to this credit. This credit can also be claimed by an individual who maintains, at their own expense, a son or daughter or a child of your civil partner who resides with them and on whose services they are compelled to depend due to old age or infirmity.

Rent relief: If you have been in rental accommodation since before December 7th 2010, you are still entitled to rent relief. The relief is offered at the standard rate of 20 per cent on up to €400 for those aged under 55, and up to €800 for those aged over 55. This means that someone aged under 55 can get €80 back a year, but this will fall to just €40 in 2017. Someone over 55 can claim €160, falling to €80 in 2017.

It may not be worth a whole lot if you are paying exorbitant rents, but it’s still worth claiming (who would say no to a taxback of €320?), so if you haven’t been claiming it, make sure you do this year, as the credit will cease in 2017.

Home renovation incentive: First introduced in 2013, the scheme allows those carrying out repairs on their homes to claim back VAT at a rate of 13.5 per cent, up to a value of € 30,000. October’s Budget extended it until the end of 2018 so there is still time to avail of it. By the end of 2015, Revenue figures show that some 35,722 properties had availed of the relief at a value of €810 million.

Home carer’s credit: This credit can be claimed in circumstances where the stay-at-home partner, who is caring for a dependent person such as a child or elderly relative, doesn’t earn more than €7,200 in one year. If the stay-at-home partner’s income is in excess of the limit, the credit may still be of use, as long as it doesn’t exceed € 9,200, as the difference between the actual income and €7,200 is calculated and then halved.The credit was just increased in Budget 2017, from €1,000 to €1,100.

Balancing statement: It’s not quite a credit, but if you feel you or your spouse/civil partner may have over-paid tax over the past four years, it’s worth considering filing a balancing statement or P21 with the Revenue. You can do this via a Form 12 via MyAccount. Of course doing this always brings a risk. You might think you have overpaid tax and are due a cheque, but Revenue might think you paid too little tax, and so will adjust your credits to collect more tax off you. So do your research carefully.