Wednesday 17 July 2019

Q&A: Workers can claim up to €2,476 relief under 'flat-rate' scheme


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Anne-Marie Walsh

What are flat-rate expenses?

Revenue gives tax relief for work-related expenses to many types of employees. It is given to cover the cost of equipment needed for work, including tools, uniforms and stationery. These expenses are called 'flat-rate expenses' because the same amount is given to all workers in an occupation, regardless of how much expense they run up.


What kind of money are we talking about?

It depends on your job. Members of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra qualify for a €2,476 tax relief, but a kitchen porter gets just €21. Church of Ireland clergymen get €127, hospital consultants €695, school principals €608, and teachers €518.


How does it work?

You don't automatically get the relief but once you claim it, it's applied every year.

It is given by reducing your taxable income. So if your salary is €20,000 a year and you are entitled to flat-rate expenses of €200, you're taxed on €19,800.


How long have the expenses been in existence?

The regime developed in talks between Revenue and unions over the past 40 to 50 years, and has 53 employment categories with 134 individual flat-rate expenses, covering some 536,000 workers.


What's the commotion?

Revenue has carried out a review of the flat-rate expenses to see if they are still justified. The various amounts given could be cut, increased or abolished altogether. It means the expenses will no longer be automatically paid to certain types of staff from January 1 next year.

Those on the hitlist to have their expenses abolished include 75,822 shop assistants who get €121; 8,134 journalists who get up to €381; 881 cardiac technicians, who get up to €212. Also affected are 682 freelance actors who get €750; 122 agricultural advisers, who get a €671 flat rate; and 42 valuers who get €680.


I've never claimed them before, what can I do?

You are entitled to expenses for the past four years, so you could be in for a mini windfall if you haven't claimed them before.

You can claim them by logging into 'myAccount' on the Revenue website.

Irish Independent

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