Tuesday 17 September 2019

Calls for advice over tax credits after Revenue pays back €4bn

Michael McGrath (Niall Carson/PA)
Michael McGrath (Niall Carson/PA)
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

The Government and Revenue have been called on to launch an information campaign to ensure people claim their tax credits.

It comes after new figures emerged showing €4bn was claimed from Revenue since 2010, mainly for tax relief on health expenses, nursing home fees and other allowable expenses.

But the figure also includes overpayments of income tax.

Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath said more needed to be done to ensure people claim back all the tax refunds they are due.

Some of the money had to be paid back because employees ended up paying too much income tax.

Mr McGrath said taxpayers who think they may have overpaid income tax should request an end of year P21 balancing statement from the Revenue.

"While some of this €4bn refunded to taxpayers relates to tax relief being claimed on health expenses, nursing home fees and other allowable expenses, a significant amount of it was only repaid because the person sought a P21 balancing statement at the end of the tax year.

"It is almost certainly the case that many taxpayers have overpaid income tax in previous years and wrongly assume to this day that this will be automatically paid back to them."

He said people may have overpaid tax because their tax credits were not correctly applied or because they did not claim all the credits or reliefs they were entitled to.

People who changed employment during the year or couples who were not being assessed in the right way may also have been overpaying tax.

"The Government and Revenue should lead an information campaign to make people more aware of credits such as the home carer tax credit and reliefs for third-level tuition fees."

Since the start of this year, Revenue has put in place a new online system, it calls PAYE Modernisation. This is designed to automatically correct most overpayments or underpayments of income tax, but this system was not in place for previous years.

Tax experts estimated up to 60,000 families are missing out on the home carer credit.

It is worth €1,500 this year and can be claimed by a married couple and those in civil partnerships. It can be claimed for the last four years, which means some families are entitled to rebates of up to €4,100, according to Taxback.com.

It can be claimed where one spouse is the home carer, and cares for one or more dependants, who include children under 18, people over the age of 65, and people with a disability who require care.

Tax experts also believe thousands of parents and students are missing out on tax relief on qualifying third-level education fees because they are not claiming it.

Tax relief is given at the standard rate of 20pc on a maximum of €7,000 of fees per person per course. The relief is available on certain full-time or part-time undergraduate or postgraduate courses at colleges.

Irish Independent

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