The end of the year brings the expense of Christmas, but it is also when PAYE workers can apply for their tax refund for 2019.
And, given that taxpayers are entitled to go back four years to claim tax credits or reliefs, it is also getting close to the December 31 deadline for making a claim relating to 2015.
So, if you are concerned about credit card debt and other bills that will need to be paid in the new year, take time now to get your paperwork together.
You could be entitled to a refund from the taxman, and getting it later this month, or early next year, would provide a welcome boost to household finances.
A number of factors put people off applying for a refund from Revenue. A fear is that the system to apply will be difficult to use; an assumption is that taxpayers are not entitled to any refund.
But, for most of us, neither of those is true.
The straightforward way to make a claim is using PAYE Services in myAccount, which you can register for on www.revenue.ie.
Depending on your situation, you may be able to access the service immediately. If not, Revenue can arrange to send you a pin number to get you up-and-running.
Once registered, you can log in each time through myAccount.
The services in myAccount are accessible on mobiles and tablets, so you don’t need access to a desktop computer and, if you prefer, you can do it all via app. RevApp is a free mobile app, provided by Revenue, to help taxpayers manage their tax affairs on the go.
The next step is to establish if you have a claim. Many PAYE workers operate on the assumption that as their tax is calculated by Revenue, based on information from their employer, they have paid the correct amount.
But taxpayers are entitled to claim tax back on numerous fees and expenses that many of us pay and which Revenue will only know about if the taxpayer notifies tham.
Revenue were so concerned about individuals leaving entitlements unclaimed that, last year, they wrote to more than 100,000 Irish taxpayers to remind them about their entitlements.
Unable to judge who might have a claim without additional information, Revenue wrote to PAYE workers who had paid tax, but had not claimed any additional tax credits or reliefs in the previous four years. If that describes you, you should be taking a good look at your spending over the last four years to see what could potentially earn you a refund.
So, what expenditure should you look for?
The most common examples are health expenses, nursing home fees, and tuition fees.
Qualifying health expenses include payment for doctors’ and consultants’ services, routine and maternity care during pregnancy, services in hospitals or treatment facilities clinics, in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), and non-routine dental care. You cannot claim relief for any payments that were covered by health insurance.
The home-carer tax credit is not claimed by thousands of households that may be entitled to it.
This credit can be claimed by a couple in a marriage or civil partnership, where one person stays at home and cares for one or more dependent persons, which includes children under 18.
Flat-rate expenses, a relief intended to cover costs associated with work such as tools and uniform, is currently under review and may be on the way out for many in 2020. But, until the end of the year, eligible workers will still able to claim for 2015, and, until the end of next year, for 2016-2019.
A full list of qualifying professions, and the amount each is entitled to, is available on revenue.ie. The website also gives detailed information on all other tax credits and reliefs. (They are too many to go through in detail in one column.)
Once you have figured out the ones that are relevant to you and have applied, the refund will be paid to your account within five working days.
If you are shopping for a hair and makeup lover this Christmas, it is worth checking out Aldi’s range of beauty gifts, going on the shelves on Thursday.
Pick of the range is the Remington hair straightener for just €17.99, an absolute bargain for a ceramic straightener.
The most expensive item is also likely to sell quickly, the Revlon combination hair dryer and volumiser for €59.99. If your recipient already has styling tools, they might appreciate the double compartment storage bag for €12.99.
The range includes a number of other beauty tools, including a foot pedi and facial cleanser.
The budget retailer is well known for producing decent quality duplicates of high end makeup and skincare, and this week’s range includes a gift set of their Hot Cloth Cleanser.
If you are looking for stocking fillers, they are also selling lip glosses, mascara and eyeliners packaged as Christmas ornaments for €3.99 each