'Get what's owed to you in tax refunds'
Published 03/02/2016 | 02:30
ARE you passing up the chance for a monetary windfall?
Tax experts have called on all taxpayers to make one particular New Year's resolution this year - to get what is owed to them back from the taxman.
There are hundreds of euro in refunds being passed up by many householders.
According to Taxback.com, we are getting better at claiming what is ours from the Revenue Commissioners, but we are still not claiming everything that is owed to us. Barry Flanagan, senior tax manager at www.taxback.com, said: "Every year we have the same message - get what's owed to you in tax refunds.
"And while tax efficiency has become more commonplace among the Irish public, there are still thousands of people who will leave millions of euro with the taxman this year - don't be one of them"
Austerity budgets may be over but there's no doubt that the last few years have seen people pay more in taxes and charges, stealth and otherwise, than ever before, he said.
Mr Flanagan said this should really bring it home to people that they absolutely should claim back their entitlements from these years.
Although there have been a variety of cuts to tax reliefs in recent years, many people are unaware that you can go back up to four years -you can claim back any tax refund entitlements from 2012-2015.
The Taxback.com financial expert said their average PAYE refund is €880.
"And that the effort required of people to get this is minimal, to say the least," he said.
"Get hold of their PPS (personal public service) number, gather receipts, sign a form or two, wait two to six weeks, and there you have it - money for nothing essentially," Mr Flanagan added.
If you are an Irish taxpayer who has paid medical bills on behalf of anyone - yourself, your parents, your children - in the last four years, then you are entitled to a refund.
And that's just one of the categories for which you may be able to claim.
"By way of advice, I would begin by telling people to be sure to keep doctors receipts, tuition fee receipts and any correspondence from Revenue - all of these will make the tax reclaim process so much easier," Mr Flanagan said.
The three main reliefs have changed in the last few years, but can still be claimed:
* For medical expenses, relief at 20pc is still available and can be claimed on most unreimbursed expenses incurred and on qualifying non-routine dental expenses.
* Many people wrongly believe that the Home Carer Tax Credit is for those caring for other people's children, the elderly or disabled people. They don't realise that it can be claimed where any housewife or house-husband works in the home, caring for their own children. And with the increase from €810 to €1,000 this year, this credit is more valuable than ever. It is available to any jointly assessed couple with one or more child, where the non-assessable spouse has income of less than €7,000 in 2016.
* The tax credit for tuition fees is still available. For 2015, the relief does not apply to the first €3,000 of qualifying fees paid. Similarly, for part-time courses, the first €1,500 is disregarded in respect of each claim. As the student contribution now falls under the definition of "tuition fees", it means that any family with more than one child in college will usually qualify for a tax refund. Similarly, those paying higher fees in private colleges, above the €3,000 de minimus, will often qualify for a valuable credit of up to €800 even where there is only one child in college.
"Overpaid tax is also an area which results in many people receiving much welcomed refunds from the Revenue," Mr Flanagan added.
"This can occur inadvertently, especially if you have changed employment during the year or returned home from abroad. Individuals should look back on their income tax and USC payments to ensure that they have not overpaid in prior years and should claim a refund before it's too late."
Other tax reliefs and incentives which have remained available are:
* Rent a room relief;
* Flat-rate expenses for certain trades and professions;
* Exemption on income earned from caring for children in your own home;
* Employment and Investment Incentive (EII) scheme.