Deluge of tax refund requests as employees hunt for savings
CASH-strapped consumers have deluged tax officials with demands for refunds, it has emerged.
New figures from the Revenue Commissioners show a surge in the number of PAYE workers making tax claims.
Almost one million claims were made last year for some of the most popular refunds available to low and middle-income earners.
Taxpayers doubled the amount they claimed for service charges and quadrupled the amount they claimed for rent payments, with a steady rise in the money refunded for spending on doctors and medicines.
Some €280m was claimed on five of the most popular refunds and tax credits for the tax year 2010.
This compares with €175m claimed for 2009, which tax experts said meant that 2010 was already shaping up to be a record year for tax refunds.
They said the amount of money claimed for last year could rise further, as some people were still submitting claims.
These included claims for medical expenses, rent, service charges and work-related expenses, the figures obtained by the Irish Independent show.
But tax experts said that despite the scramble to claim back cash from the tax authorities, many workers were still missing out by failing to ensure they get everything to which they are entitled.
Claims can still be made for the last four years by those who have yet to submit a claim.
And 2010 is the last time that people can make claims for two of the reliefs that have been scrapped from this tax year -- the service charges tax relief and the credit for trade union subscriptions.
The scramble for cash has meant that huge numbers of people are now claiming back for money spent on medical outlays. More than 330,000 claims have been made so far for doctor visits, medicines and nursing home expenses last year. This amounts to €88m.
This is down on the €102m claimed for 2009, but tax expert with Taxback.com Christine Keily said the figures for 2010 would rise because many people had yet to submit a Med 1 form to get their latest refunds.
Taxpayers can claim 20pc of the money spent on health expenses last year. And if you are claiming medical expenses for 2008, and you are a higher rate taxpayer, your claim should be granted at 41pc.
The relief only applies to medical expenses that have not been reimbursed by a private health insurer.
Tax relief for service charges cannot be claimed from 2011 on, but claims can still be made for last year, 2009, and 2008.
The new Revenue figures show that €10.3m was claimed by households last year for spending on refuse charges. This was almost double the figure for 2010. The maximum that can be claimed per household is €80 a year. This is given as a tax credit -- an amount you can earn before you pay tax.
More people are claiming a tax credit for renting a home. The figures show a 60pc surge to 355,244 in the numbers putting in claims for this last year.
Rental tax credit can be worth as much as €800 a year for a couple under the age of 55.
Ms Keily of Taxback.com said that the number of claims made was likely to rise.
"It is likely that the figures provided will increase," she said.
"This is particularly likely for 2010, as many people will not yet have submitted their claims for that year."