Saturday 23 September 2017

How thousands of people are missing out on refunds for medical costs every year

Thousands fail to claim hundreds of euro back in health costs

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Taxback.com’s Barry Flanagan urged people to claim
Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan

Thousands of people are missing out on refunds for their medical expenses that amount to hundreds of euro each year.

A host of health costs, from GP visits to laser eye surgery, can be reclaimed, but more than half (56pc) of people are not doing so.

Many may not be aware of the "free money" that is available to them or may simply forget to lodge claims, according to Taxback.com.

But the refund from medical expenses - which can date back up to four years - can be lucrative as it is calculated the average claim amounts to €345.

The exact amount that can be claimed depends on the treatments and services availed of during the year, with a 20pc refund on offer.

If a person makes five trips to the doctor in a year at €50 a time, they can reclaim 20pc of this total or €50.

The tax relief on medical expenses was introduced in 1967, and while it was reduced in 2009, the experts at Taxback.com say that it's still a very attractive tax relief and that it "beggar's belief" that more people still don't claim.

Barry Flanagan, senior tax manager at Taxback.com, said: "It wouldn't be far-fetched to assume that the vast majority of our survey respondents would have visited a doctor or a dentist in the last four years.

"Yet just four in 10 of them applied for a tax refund on the costs incurred.

"Why is this? Thousands of euro of medical and non-routine dental expense refunds, while probably the most widely known of all tax refunds, still go unclaimed every year.

"The reasons for this are varied but feedback from clients suggests that one reason is that they believe the process is too complex and time consuming.

"I can understand why people might think this - anything to do with tax and form filling tends to make people's eyes glaze over, but in reality this is one of the most straightforward things you'll ever do in terms of 'personal admin' - easier than shopping online I would say."

Of those who did claim back medical expenses, 76pc did so for a doctors' visit, while 49pc did so for prescriptions. But there are other services which are eligible including laser eye surgery, IVF treatment and gluten-free products.

Even among the best-known eligible services, such as a GP visit or prescriptions, almost six in 10 said that they had incurred such expense but had not bothered to claim anything back.

Mr Flanagan added: "Many people think it's just doctors' visits that are covered - but that is not the case".

He recommends keeping all medical receipts in a drawer or shoebox.

"Last year refunds on medical expenses cost the Revenue €145.9m but we would guess that if everyone claimed their entitlements this figure could be doubled. So our message is simply - get your receipts together and get what's owed."

Irish Independent

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