The Oireachtas finance committee has clarified that homeowners will be able to claim for tax relief of 13.5% on home improvement works if the total spent exceeds €5,000.
The measure had been understood to be limited to a one-off renovation valued at €5,000 to €30,000.
But Finance Minister Micheal Noonan clarified yesterday that people would be able to claim for a number of jobs over the life of the home renovation tax incentive, designed to run until 2016, so long as the total cost exceeds €5,000.
“It is designed to stimulate increased activity in the sector and boost employment... I want to point out that one can aggregate work up to €5,000. So, the arguments made that many contractors involved in the black economy wouldn’t be carrying out work in excess of the €5,000 so consequently it wouldn’t counteract the black economy is not true.”
He also agreed to an extension of the period for contractors to claim that work had been paid from seven working days to 10.
The clarification that homeowners would be able to aggregate work done was welcomed by TDs Richard Boyd Barrett and Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty, who had argued that the €5,000 minimum spend meant that the majority of homeowners would never be able to avail of the scheme.
Mr Noonan said the scheme was not designed to subsidise the maintenance of homes but to encourage people to undertake additional works, thereby creating employment.
Meanwhile, he said that despite CPI figures which show private health insurers increased the price of policies by an “outrageous” 86% over the past four years, there was only a modest 7.5% decrease in policies being taken out. He said he was “pretty amazed” that from Dec 2008 to June 2012 the amount of people with private health insurance dropped from 2.29m to just 2.13m.
However, he said the private health insurance industry could not expect to continue receiving up to €500m a year in tax relief from the State if it continued to make no attempt to control costs.
Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath suggested that people weren’t leaving private health insurers because of the horror stories they were hearing from the public health system.
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