Saturday 20 July 2019

First-time househunters net €142m from Government's help-to-buy scheme


Paschal Donohoe extended controversial scheme. Picture: Maxwells
Paschal Donohoe extended controversial scheme. Picture: Maxwells

Michael Cogley

First-time buyers have claimed over €142m in Vat rebates through the Government's help-to-buy scheme, new figures show.

Former Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced the initiative in Budget 2017, setting aside €50m at the time for it. The scheme was designed to help first-time buyers with the deposit required to purchase or self-build a new home. It provides for a refund of income tax and DIRT paid over the previous four tax years, limited to a maximum of 5pc of the purchase value of a home up to a value of €400,000. The most an individual could claim back is €20,000.

According to the latest figures from the Revenue Commissioners, 22,244 applications to the scheme have been received with 16,133 approved to date. After an application is approved, prospective home-buyers move onto the claim stage once they have decided on an eligible property and a contract has been signed for its purchase.

Some 10,349 claims have been made to the scheme and Revenue has paid out to 9,790 homeowners with the average payment standing at around €14,500.

Around 1,350 homeowners scooped the maximum payout of €20,000, which was awarded on homes valued between €400,000 and €600,000. Just over a third of successful claimants received payments ranging from €15,000 to €19,999. Help-to-buy has been mired in controversy with many experts and analysts describing it as an inflationary measure pushing up the cost of buying a home. Most recently the Central Bank of Ireland warned that the scheme risked driving up prices rather than incentivising new building.

Help-to-buy is due to expire at the end of this year having been extended by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe in the budget.

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