Thursday 21 November 2019

My big idea: The taxing work of dealing with the Revenue Commissioners made easier for you

Eithne O'Sullivan
Eithne O'Sullivan

Sarah McCabe

Mayo woman Eithne O'Sullivan (61) and her son David are the brains behind TaxHug, an online business which helps taxpayers quickly and easily claim back any refunds due on their taxes.

"David and I are both accountants and run our own accounting practice, DA O'Sullivan. It was always clear to us that most PAYE workers are due hundreds back each year in unclaimed taxes, but don't claim it because they don't understand how the system works. The average person is due €880 per year - that's a lot of money. We realised there was a business opportunity in helping people get this money back and that the best way to do it was online. Dealing with taxes should not be a daunting process; our philosophy is to keep it as simple as possible.

Our website allows people to calculate whether they are due back any unclaimed taxes, for free. We have set up a simple online questionnaire to figure this out. You need very little information to fill it out, just a P60 and details of medical expenses if you have them. You can claim back taxes for the past four years.

If you want to actually go ahead and make the claim, that's where our fee kicks in. For a flat rate of €49 - there is no commission, no matter how much money you get back - we will send you all the documentation you need to do this. All the customer has to do is print their form, post it to the Revenue Commission and receive their tax refund directly into their bank account after two to six weeks. We can't guarantee that a person is due a refund but they will receive whatever they are legally entitled too. Occasionally our questionnaire reveals that a customer owes extra taxes.

We launched the website in September. Since then about 3,000 people have used the service, a fantastic response.

Neither of us are technically-minded so we outsourced the website design process and some other aspects. Our energy went into making sure the calculations were 100pc correct.

There are so many different exceptions when it comes to income tax - everything from your profession to whether you are a landlord to civil partnerships to widowers - and we needed to get everything absolutely right. It took a lot of work but we cracked it. That was probably the biggest challenge.

We financed the business partly through savings and partly through grants. We received €50,000 from government-backed funder Enterprise Ireland in exchange for a 10pc equity stake

We run the business from Castlebar in Mayo, close to home. It's wonderful working with my son, I so enjoy it.

The next step is launching a British version of the service. There are clear exporting opportunities for the business.

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