The new Rental Tax Credit was the biggest issue for readers reacting to Budget 2003 in a live Q&A session on Wednesday. Would it apply to those renting a room rather than an entire property? What about those in student accommodation? Some even wanted to know whether adult children paying rent to parents in the family home would qualify.
Most of all, they wanted to know when, how and to whom they could apply, not least as the €500 credit will be payable for anyone renting this year as well as going forward.
Much of that detail remains to be confirmed in the Finance Bill which will not be published until October 20th. But it seems that rent-a-room tenants and those in student residences will be covered — if not family tenants. But the biggest drawback, especially for students, is that a tax credit is no use if you don’t pay tax and, assuming the credit goes to the tenant, parents subsidising rent may be left out of the scheme.
And anyone already receiving other State housing support, such as the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), are excluded.
The other dominant subject was the once-off measures to reduce costs for third-level studies. Some parents have already paid the full €3,000 annual student contribution, meaning that third-level institutions will have to organise refunds when the scheme gets up and running.
Postgraduate students and PhD candidates were also hunting yet-to-be-announced detail on how measures announced would benefit them.
There was interest from businesses about how to go about claiming subvention of fast-rising energy bills under the €1.2 billion programme announced by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, which will allow them to claim 40 per cent of the increase in their energy costs if those costs have jumped by at least half.
In the same vein, unsurprisingly, quite a number of readers wanted information about the timing of the promised three €200 electricity credits over the coming winter, with others annoyed there was no help for gas bills that will be even more oppressive.
That aside, there was usual strong interest in welfare measures: what was there and, more pointedly for some, what was not. Queries about the extent and timing of one-off payments featured prominently among those.
Childcare, as always, drew queries as parents tried to figure out how much the Budget 2023 measures would save them off what many find are life-limiting childcare bills.
Landlords were less than impressed at their much-hinted tax break being limited to pre-letting expenses, while other readers wondered how green the budget could be if there was little news on retrofitting apart from what is clearly a delay till next year in a promised low-interest loan scheme that was due to be in place this summer.
The nature of the budget was reflected in the questions, with fewer enquiries about motoring issues after the subject barely featured in the Ministers’ speeches, and just one query about the “old reliables” — alcohol and tobacco — after cigarettes had another 50 cent added to the price per pack.
Overall, there were a record number of questions as hundreds of readers got in touch with a panel featuring PwC tax partner Mairead Harbron, as they sought to make sense of a budget that featured a wide range of once-off measures, especially in a sprawling cost-of-living package.