Saturday 21 October 2017

Number of people claiming tax refunds increases - but many are still missing out

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Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

There has been a rise in the amount of money being claimed by consumers from the Revenue Commissioners for medical expenses and other tax refunds.

But experts warn not everyone is claiming money they are entitled to get back from the taxman.

New figures show a rise in the claims made to Revenue for tax refunds on medical expenses, nursing home fees and tuition fees. Senior tax manager with Taxback.com Barry Flanagan said householders were still not getting what they are due.

"Lack of engagement by taxpayers is definitely costing them money. A recent survey we commissioned revealed 56pc of respondents did not claim a tax refund for medical expenses."

New data on the Revenue Commission's website breaks down, for the first time, claims made for nursing home fees and other medical expenses. Mr Flanagan said the tax relief on medical expenses was reduced from a person's marginal rate of tax to 20pc in 2009.

"The tax relief on medical expenses was introduced in 1967 and while it was reduced from a person's marginal rate of tax to 20pc in 2009, it's still a lucrative tax relief and well worth people's while to claim."

He said most people incurred medical expenses throughout the year, particularly parents with young children.

"Trips to the doctor's surgery become commonplace for a lot of families over the years and every trip can cost someone anywhere from €40 to €70.

"So if a couple with three children take even just five trips to their GP in a year and that bill hits around €250, you could get €50 of this back from the Revenue."

Tax refunds for nursing home fees have jumped from €20m in 2010 to €30m in 2015.

Some 6,400 claimed the relief in 2015.

Mr Flanagan said the pattern for the last eight years had been a gradual erosion of reliefs and a reduction in the value of tax credits and allowances. Nursing home fees have remained as one of the few items where relief at the higher rate of 40pc is still available.

"In addition, as relief can be granted online via PAYE Anytime, it is one of the easiest tax credits to claim," he said.

Revenue figures show the third-level education fees relief at its highest level to date. Some €24m was claimed in 2015.

Irish Independent

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