Your Questions: Is there any financial assistance to help me out as a landlord?
Question: I own a rental property in Kilkenny, which I am struggling to make work financially, between keeping the place renovated, paying property tax, mortgage payments, insurance and all the rest. After a few unlucky run-ins with tenants, I seem to be constantly fixing something or other, even though I did a big renovation job in late 2017. Is there any financial assistance out there to help me stay afloat as a landlord?
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Answer: There are a few measures which you could explore. While it was scrapped in the last Budget, the Home Renovation Incentive offers a relatively generous tax relief to landlords who carried out qualifying home repairs, improvements or renovations on their home between October 15, 2014 and December 31, 2018.
The tax credit is payable over the two years following the year in which you carried out the work, so you would still be eligible to apply if the work was carried out in late 2017, according to the commercial director of Taxback.com Eileen Devereux. One important caveat is that the work must have been completed by a fully tax-compliant contractor. If this has been the case and your application is successful, relief is calculated at a rate of 13.5pc on all qualifying expenditure over €4,405 - up to a maximum of €30,000 - before Vat.
You mentioned you are still paying a mortgage on the property. If you can prove that you have registered tenancies in the property with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), you may be able to claim mortgage interest relief. This is a tax break based on the amount of interest you have paid during the tax year on a qualifying mortgage loan and can be claimed on mortgage loans taken out between April 7, 2009 and December 31, 2020. The interest on the loan is restricted as a rental expense deduction. Interest can only be deducted during the period in which the property is let.
Question: I am thinking of adding my partner to my health insurance policy before he turns 35 to avoid future age loadings. Is it cheaper to have us both under the one policy or should he just take out his own separate policy?
Answer: From a cost perspective, the premium will actually be the same either way. From an administration perspective, it may be easier to have both adults insured under the one policy rather than having to deal with two separate renewals each year, according to Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie.
It depends on what suits best but unfortunately, there will be no financial advantage to having both insured on the one policy, Mr Goode says.
Question: I have three Volkswagen Passats for my sales staff, but I am thinking of changing over to an electric fleet. Is it true there might be some grant funding available, as well as a BIK (benefit-in-kind) saving for my employees if I do?
Answer: There are a number of benefits to using an electric vehicle (EV) as a company car. These include low taxation and running costs, the availability of grant support, and significant benefits for employees when it comes to benefit in kind (BIK) taxation, according to the commercial director of Taxback.com Eileen Devereux. Electric cars have the lowest rate of motor tax at €120 a year, with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) reporting a 74pc reduction in transport costs compared to a comparable new diesel engine car.
There is grant support available for commercially-purchased vehicles to a maximum of €3,800 for qualifying EVs. In your case this would potentially save you €11,400 on three new cars, says Ms Devereux.
The amount of grant support depends on the list price of the vehicle, but bear in mind that approved EVs with a price of less than €14,000 will not receive a grant. There is no separate application. The dealer will simply apply the relevant grant on purchase and deduct it from the agreed price. Where an employee has a company car as part of their job, it is generally treated as BIK ie a non-monetary 'perk'. BIK is a taxable benefit, but in the 2018 Budget, a 0pc BIK rate was introduced for electric vehicles for one year, Ms Devereux explained.
This was extended to three years in Budget 2019, with the Minister for Finance limiting the scheme to electric vehicles valued at €50,000 or under. This means that on a vehicle costing €50,000 or less, an employee will benefit from zero net pay BIK deductions when provided with an electric company car.
If you can prove that you have registered tenancies in the property with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), you may be able to claim mortgage interest relief.
Electric cars have the lowest rate of motor tax at €120 a year, with a reported 74pc reduction in transport costs compared to a comparable new diesel engine car.