Charlie Weston: Fear of having any dealings with the tax authorities means most of us are losing money
Our fear of the tax authorities means that most of us are passing up the chance to get refunds that we are due. In many cases, close to €1,000 is at stake. This is no small figure in the finances of most households. It would pay for a pretty good holiday or cover a mortgage payment for a month.
A survey of taxpayers from around the country has found that seven out of 10 people fail to claim what is owned to them by the Revenue Commissioners.
The number one reason given for this situation is a fear of getting a demand to pay more tax, instead of getting a tax refund.
The survey - commissioned by tax refund specialists Taxback.com - found that other reasons why people are reluctant to claim what is theirs is a feeling that it is complex and tiresome. Others do not understand what is involved and do not want to pay for advice.
It seems that fear of the tax authorities is deep-seated.
Barry Flanagan, senior tax manager at Taxback.com, said the average refund it secures for ordinary pay as you earn (PAYE) workers is €995.
He said claiming tax back is not difficult and is relatively straight-forward.
Many people are unaware that you can go back up to four years in your claims for a tax refund.
What you need to do is get hold of your PPS (personal public service) number, gather receipts, sign a form or two, wait two to six weeks, and you should have a refund winging its way to you.
People should keep doctors' receipts, tuition fee receipts and any correspondence from Revenue. All of these will make the tax reclaim process so much easier,
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.
For medical expenses, relief at 20pc is 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.
The tax credit for tuition fees is still available. However, 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.
Sunday Indo Business