First-time buyer scheme 'flops' as just 74 get DIRT refunds
Just 74 people have benefited from a government scheme that allows first-time buyers to claim back Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) on their savings.
When it was announced last year, Finance Minister Michael Noonan predicted that around 9,500 home-buyers would get a tax refund at a total cost to the State of €2.8m.
However, new figures show that up to the end of September there have been 118 applications from first-time buyers, and of those 74 got refunds totalling €74, 880.
Just over 30 applications are still being processed, while 13 have been refused by the Revenue Commissioners.
The scheme is open to any first-time buyers who purchase a house or apartment to live in as their home and people who self-build a home to live in.
The relief applies to DIRT paid for four years before a property is bought.
There were no new measures targeted specifically at first-time buyers in Budget 2016 earlier this month, although the DIRT scheme is open for applications until the end of 2017. However, it comes at a time of record low interest rates for savers.
On the back of the figures, Fianna Fáil's finance spokesman Michael McGrath has described the scheme as "a complete flop" and "a major disappointment".
"In fact, the outcome is an insult to the thousands of people who are struggling to buy their first home," he said.
"The announcement of the scheme 12 months ago was nothing more than a gimmick to distract attention from the escalating housing crisis. The scheme has not even managed to live up to its very modest expectation."
Mr McGrath said "a lack of supply, exorbitant interest rates, the abolition of mortgage interest relief and the new Central Bank rules on deposits have combined to make home ownership increasingly unaffordable for young people".