Business Personal Finance

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Summer money-makers that could earn you thousands

You could earn tax-free thousands by taking summer students into your home, though painters and gardeners aren't as lucky

'Summer is the time people take up seasonal jobs like fruit-picking or working in a local hotel.'
'Summer is the time people take up seasonal jobs like fruit-picking or working in a local hotel.'
Louise McBride

Louise McBride

Summertime can be a chance to earn thousands, or indeed tens of thousands, of extra euro thanks to money-making opportunities thrown up by the season. As well as making a big difference to a household's income, some of this extra money can be earned tax-free.

So what are some of the main summer money-makers in Ireland - and what is the tax situation?

Bean an ti

A bean an ti (a woman who takes care of children who stay in her home while they study Irish in an Irish college) earns about €5,700 on average over three weeks - if she takes 12 students into her home. A bean an ti usually accommodates between eight and 12 students at a time for an average of about €23 a day per child (or about €480 per child over three weeks), though the rate paid varies across the country.

A Gaeltacht course usually runs for either two or three weeks. The courses run for most of the summer, so a bean an ti can accommodate students attending a number of courses. The beauty of these earnings is they are tax-free and you don't need to file a tax return.

"The income you receive in respect of Gaeltacht students is disregarded for income tax purposes if you qualify under Sceim na bhFoghlaimeoiri Gaeilge (Irish Language Learners Scheme), which is administered by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht," said a spokesman for the Revenue Commissioners. "This covers relevant payments you receive from the department as well as payments by the Irish colleges which the Gaeltacht students attend. No return of the income need be made to Revenue."

Remember, hosting up to 12 children or teenagers in your home is hard work. Costs to bear in mind include three meals a day, laundry and higher electricity bills (particularly if you have an electric shower). To qualify for the Sceim na bhFoghlaimeoiri Gaeilge, you must provide suitable accommodation to students attending a recognised Irish course in the Gaeltacht.

Foreign student host

You could earn about €800 a month by taking a foreign student into your home for the summer, though rates depend on where you live, the type of accommodation and the foreign language school that arranges the placement.

"Typically, a family can take up to three foreign students and the fees range from €150 to €190 a week per student, depending on the type of accommodation and board," said Rory Butler, director of International Student Accommodation, an independent organisation which places foreign students with host families. The €190 weekly fee would normally apply if you are providing full board and a single room for a student, while the lower weekly rate would apply if only providing half board (light breakfast and an evening meal), according to Butler. Based on these rates, should you host three students in your home, you could earn up to almost €2,300 a month in the summer.

David O'Grady, chief executive of Marketing English in Ireland, which represents 66 English -language schools and colleges, said about €210 a week per student could be earned by hosting a foreign student, depending on location.

One of the advantages of taking in a foreign student is the income earned can be tax-free - as long as you qualify for the rent-a-room relief scheme. "Income from lettings to students and foreign students for an academic year or term, and the provision of meals or other services supplied in connection with the letting, may qualify for rent-a-room relief," said a Revenue spokesman. To qualify, the income received must not be more than €14,000 a year, otherwise you'll pay tax on the full amount earned. Even if you qualify for rent-a-room relief, you must still file a tax return and declare the income earned.

You cannot claim rent-a-room relief if your foreign student is a short-term guest - and that includes students booking accommodation through online booking sites such as Airbnb. "If you hope to claim rent-a-room relief when hosting foreign students, make sure the student is here to study and their study is linked to a term or programme of sorts," said Norah Collender, tax technical manager with Chartered Accountants Ireland. "Make sure the student lives in your house and it's residential accommodation you're providing - not guest or Airbnb accommodation. Make sure you're providing long-term rather than short-term accommodation."

Should you not qualify for rent-a-room relief, the tax paid on the money earned from hosting foreign students will largely depend on your personal circumstances and total annual income.

There are a few things to bear in mind before taking in a foreign student. "If you're interested in hosting students under the age of 18, anyone over the age of 16 who is normally resident in that house needs to be Garda vetted," said O'Grady. "Even if Garda vetting has already been done for the likes of the GAA, you would still need to be garda vetted for education purposes." Remember, the experience may not work out for you if the student is troublesome or demanding, or for a host of other reasons.

Seasonal jobs

Summer is the time people take up seasonal jobs like fruit-picking or working in a local hotel.

Fruit-picking jobs are often not well-paid - you may only earn the minimum wage (€9.55 an hour for an experienced adult worker or as low as €7.64 an hour if you're inexperienced).

Pay for hotel workers varies greatly, depending on the hotel and the job. Kitchen porters, bartenders and waitresses often earn minimum wage or close to it. A kitchen chef could earn from €10 to €14 an hour but this also varies.

"With seasonal jobs, it's usually the case that the employer puts you through the PAYE system for tax," said Collender. "So if you're on the premises of an employer, you should usually be paying tax through the PAYE system." Make sure your employer has your correct tax details - otherwise, you could pay more (or, indeed, less) tax than you need to.

One of the most seasonal jobs you can get would be to run your own ice-cream van. With more than two ice-creams said to be sold every second in Ireland during a hot spell, a well-located ice-cream van could be a handy earner. You could easily sell a 99 ice-cream for €2 a pop.

Costs can be high, though, including insurance, measures to meet food safety and hygiene requirements and having adequate equipment and refrigeration facilities. You'll typically pay tax as a self-employed individual if running your own ice-cream van and so you will need to register for, and pay, tax through the self-assessment system.

Summer can also be a good time for painters and gardeners. You could earn €20 and upwards for mowing a lawn, or anything from €100 to a few hundred euro a day for maintaining a garden. Some painters charge a few hundred euro to paint the walls and ceiling of a room - you might earn €400 for painting a large room with two coats, for example. Tax on such jobs is typically paid through the self-assessment system - whether done as a nixer or as your main day job.

Be sure to pay the right tax on any summer earnings - even if you're tempted not to declare it. Revenue has clamped down on earning 'under-the-counter' extra cash. Should you get such attention from Revenue, your money-maker could quickly turn into a financial headache.

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