Q I am a teacher with a salary of €47,000. My husband, who works in tech in the private sector, earns €50,000 a year and can earn an annual bonus of up to 20pc of his salary, but it’s not guaranteed. Even though we are paying rent, we manage to save €2,000 per month and have saved a deposit of €60,000. We have a car loan that costs €400 per month. We clear our credit cards and overdrafts monthly. We spotted a house in Crumlin for €435,000. Can we borrow enough?
A Joey Sheahan, head of credit at MyMortgages.ie and author of The Mortgage Coach, says you could easily carry the €400 monthly loan repayment. If you are currently renting and can afford to buy now, then it’s probably a good time because rents are so high and your mortgage repayments will, most likely, be lower than the rental payments.
Potential lenders will possibly allow for an income of €48,000 for you, which is two points up on the payscale, Mr Sheahan says.
Lenders could consider at least 50pc of your husband’s bonus, or possibly all of it if he can show documentary evidence that he has received this for the last three years. So, the allowable income will be between €103,000 and €108,000. This means you should be able to borrow 3.5 times this amount, which is between €360,500 and €378,000.
This could put the house for €435,000 within your range, the mortgage adviser said. If you want to borrow more than this, you might qualify for an exemption, he added.
Q I have DeCare Dental cover and it now looks like I will need a lot of ongoing dental treatment. Can I use my own dentist or do I have to attend a dentist on their network?
A With these plans, you are free to attend any registered dentist. The advantage of using a dentist on their network is that your benefit will be paid directly to the dentist and you only pay whatever portion is not fully covered by your plan, according to Dermot Goode to TotalHealthCover.ie.
If you attend a dentist who is not on the network, you simply pay their fees in full and you claim your refund directly from DeCare Dental. To do this, use their ‘scan and send’ facility or submit your claim by post.
Q I have paid out a fortune in Covid tests, both PCR and antigen, over the last 12 months. This is because I have had to continue travelling to the UK and the European Union for work. Would these be classed as medical expenses? I would like to try claim some tax relief back on them at the end of the year. Would tax relief apply to masks too?
A The answer is yes, according to Barry Cahill of Taxback.com. PCR and antigen tests are classed as medical expenses and relief can be claimed where the expenses were incurred for tests carried out by, or on the advice of, a medical/health practitioner, he said.
If you spent money getting a Covid-19 test on the advice of a healthcare professional you will be entitled to make a claim for tax relief at 20pc.
Tax relief will not be available where the tests were free, or where you bought an antigen test in a retail outlet. The best way to consider eligibility of Covid-related, or any other medical expenses, for tax relief is to ask yourself was this prescribed by my doctor/healthcare professional? This will help you to distinguish between eligible and non-eligible expenses.
To claim any refund due, you will need to provide receipts . These can be submitted either in paper or electronic form, and it is good to keep a back-up of these on file, Mr Cahill said. You can apply directly to Revenue via the ROS online portal, or via a tax agent. Claims can date back four years.
Q My child is named along with my spouse and I on a savings certificate. Will this be exempt from inheritance tax in the event that my spouse and I predecease our child and are still in possession of said certificate.
A If the savings certificate is in the three names, when something happens to one of you, it will convert to the two survivors’ names, according to solicitor Susan Murphy of MakeMyWill.ie.
So, when that second person dies, the last person is effectively inheriting half of the value of the savings certificate. This would be taxable, she said. The inheritance tax-free thresholds will still apply, depending on what else is in the estate.
The threshold is currently €335,000 from parent to child. Anything above this amount is taxed at 33pc, Ms Murphy said.