Your Questions: Can I claim tax relief for work on driveway as scheme has ended?
Q: I redid my driveway in 2017 at a cost of around €4,900, excludingVat. A friend told me to look up the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme as I may be able to get tax back on some of the costs. But I read recently that the scheme has been scrapped. So I am wondering if I can still apply?
A: Budget 2019 didn't set out any provision for the continuation of the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme (HRI), and so the scheme expired at the end of 2018. However, you can still apply for the tax credit for work completed going back four years, according to the commercial director of Taxback.com, Eileen Devereux.
The HRI scheme entitles you to claim a tax credit of 13.5pc of the total cost of certain repairs, renovations and home improvements. At first glance, the building costs of your driveway renovation would come under the financial criteria for a HRI rebate, which stipulates that project costs must fall between a minimum of €4,405 (before Vat at 13.5pc) or a maximum of €30,000 (before Vat).
Renovations must be carried out by a qualifying contractor. This means they must have been Vat and RCT (Relevant Contracts Tax) registered at the time of the works.
The qualifying contractor must enter the details of the work through HRI online and also the details of payment.
One further point to note is that your local property tax (LPT) payments must be up to date in order to qualify, unless you are a local authority tenant.
Q: My boyfriend and I have just applied for our first mortgage. We have got a deposit together and we thought we were all set. The lender has come back and said there's a "red flag" on my credit rating, an issue with a mobile phone provider from years ago. This has since been resolved and it wasn't even my fault. Is there anything at all I can do to fix this?
A: If you feel that the issue was not your fault and the phone company is misreporting your credit history, then you should make a formal complaint in writing to the phone company that is misreporting your credit history and ask the company to rectify the same. That's the advice of the general manager of Mortgages4Her.ie Sinead Buckley.
If the company corrects it then the problem is solved. However, if you cannot correct your credit history, as the issue is more than two years ago, then some lenders are open to considering your application on a case-by-case basis.
All lenders will consider the application once the issue is more than five years ago. Ms Buckley's advice is to set out the situation in a detailed note and send it along with a copy of your credit history (which can be obtained from www.icb.ie), as well as a closing statement of the affected account and forward it to a qualified mortgage broker.
The broker can then make a much more informed decision based on their understanding of the situation.
Q: I am currently renewing my DeCare Dental insurance. My previous dental plan with DeCare Dental was a corporate plan TeamCare Level 3 Plus through my wife's employer and this covered our entire family. My wife is now on a career break and therefore not on the company corporate plan. I want to continue the dental cover for myself. DeCare Dental is saying I am not entitled to get this plan and have quoted me a higher price for a similar plan and cover. My understanding is that it is illegal for DeCare Dental not to offer me the same corporate plan cover at the same price?
A: Dental plans in Ireland are subject to a different set of rules compared to private health insurance. These DeCare Dental corporate plans are specifically costed for group schemes where the employer normally contributes towards the cost of same or there is a minimum take-up among the workforce, according to Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie. This spreads their risk and protects them from adverse selection where only those planning to have dental treatment may join the scheme, hence the lower cost in these schemes.
Also, all premium payments come directly from the employer to the dental insurer which reduces the overall administration costs as well. For individuals or families who are not eligible to join such group schemes, they can join the 'Healthy Smiles' consumer plans but a higher premium will apply to reflect the risk.
Dental insurers are not obliged to offer their corporate plans to the wider market. If the member is no longer eligible to remain in their company group scheme by virtue of their career break, this would explain why the dental insurer is transferring them to a consumer plan, Mr Goode said.
The Home Renovation Incentive Scheme expired at the end of 2018. However, you can still apply for the tax credit for work completed going back four years.
If you feel that a company is misreporting your credit history, then you should make a formal complaint in writing and ask to have the matter rectified.