Saturday 20 January 2018

Thousands more seek PRSI refund following overcharging revelations

Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

Some taxpayers were charged too much under the health levy element of PRSI in 2010

THOUSANDS of customers have contacted the Government seeking PRSI refunds after the Irish Independent revealed huge sums were overcharged.

On Monday, it was revealed that more than 100,000 taxpayers had already applied to the Department of Social Protection for refunds averaging almost €400.

They had been charged too much under the health levy element of PRSI in 2010. The department confirmed last night that it has been inundated with a high level of calls and around 5,000 letters relating to refunds since Monday.

It also emerged last night that many taxpayers are also owed refunds for PRSI health contributions paid during 2008 and 2009 as well as for overpayments during 2010.

It emerged on Monday that the department has recently paid out €10m to 26,000 taxpayers who were overcharged for the health levy during 2010 and had been paid rebates averaging €385 each.

"Various areas of the department are receiving a large volume of calls in relation to requests for a refund of the health contribution and there has also been a large increase in post received -- in the region of 5,000 items of post received since Monday," a spokesman said yesterday.

Before the latest influx of applications, the department had received 106,000 applications from taxpayers who believe they were charged too much in 2010 for the health contribution element of PRSI, which was levied at 4pc of earnings.

It has processed 43,000 applications, of which 26,000 or 60pc had been found to qualify for a refund. The department said yesterday that some of the refunds might apply to 2008 and 2009, as people were also entitled to apply for a refund for overpayments of the health levy for those years -- a fact it did not highlight on its website or in response to previous queries.

Anyone earning under €26,000 in a year was exempt from the 4pc health levy until the end of 2010 when it was scrapped and amalgamated into the universal social charge.

The overcharging arose because anyone earning over €500 in a single week had the health levy deducted from that week's pay under the PRSI contributions system.

The department insists that was not an error, as PRSI health levy contributions were always assessed on a weekly basis, leaving it up to customers to claim back any overpayment later if it turned out they'd paid too much in a year.

It urged taxpayers to be patient, saying, "though we are processing applications as quickly as possible, there are delays due to the number of claims that we are getting".

Irish Independent

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