MAKING CENTS: A welcome present from PAYE allowances

As Christmas spending is likely to make a big dent in finances, taxpayers should bear another December date in mind, writes Grainne McGuinness.

With the festive break rapidly approaching, it’s hard to focus on much more than mince pies and mistletoe.

However, as Christmas spending is likely to make a big dent in finances, taxpayers should bear another December date in mind.

The last day of the year represents the revenue deadline for PAYE refunds.

Taxpayers are only eligible to go back up to four years for refunds so unless you make your claim by December 31, you forfeit all right to any entitlements you may have relating to 2012.

You don’t have to wait four years however, meaning if you haven’t made a claim before you may be able to apply for several years-worth of refunds.

Just the thing to kick off a happy New Year.

Applying for a refund is straightforward and can be done online at www.revenue.ie. If you haven’t used their ‘myaccount’ system before you will have register; it takes five days to get up and running so don’t delay if you think you have a claim for 2012.

You need to have your PPS number to hand and will also have to provide them with a contact number.

If you run into any difficulties registering you can contact the ‘myaccount’ registration unit on 1890 272 282 (+3531 702 3036 for customers outside the Republic of Ireland) or by email at RegisterForMyAccount@revenue.ie.

Revenue are so keen to encourage people to use the service they recently wrote to more than 137,000 PAYE workers who have not applied for any tax refund in the last four years.

Tax advisory service Taxback.com estimates that the average PAYE refund is €880, so it is well worth sitting down and checking to see if there are areas where you can claim money back.

The most common source of a tax refund is for medical expenses.

You can claim relief when you pay both for yourself and on behalf of other.

Bear in mind you cannot claim relief where expenses have been paid or refunded from another source, such as private health insurance. You can claim for doctors and consultants’ fees as well as items or treatments prescribed by a doctor such as medicines, hearing aids and orthopaedic beds or chairs.

You can get a full list of allowable medical expenses at www.citizensinformation.ie.

Nursing home fees can also be claimed.

If you are paying the fees, you can get the tax relief whether you are in the nursing home yourself or you are paying for another person to be there.

You may also be able to claim tax relief on the cost of employing a carer for yourself or for another family member.

Another tax relief that many people are unaware of is the allowance made for those who have to follow a special diet because of diabetes or coeliac disease.

You will need a letter from a doctor stating that the individual in respect of whom the claim is made has the condition and that the products are purchased on the advice of a doctor.

You may not be asked to provide receipts but if they are requested then receipts from shops and supermarkets, in respect of food products manufactured specifically for diabetics and coeliac patients are acceptable.

This is not an exhaustive list of reliefs; it is worth going to revenue.ie to read the full list and check in case there are others that apply to your situation.

For example, some job types are entitled to a standard flat rate allowance as tax back compensation for expenses certain employees are likely to pay.

For example nurses, pilots, pharmacist and others have to buy and launder their uniform.

Tradespeople such as carpenters, plumbers and motor mechanic may have to buy their own tools.

There is one other circumstance that could lead to a refund and that is if you were awarded a medical card in the last few years.

The refund in this instance is for USC rather than tax but can still be applied for through the myaccount portal.

USC is payable at 1% up to €12,012, 3% from €12,012.01 to €18,668.00 and 5.5% from €18,668.01 to €70,044.00.

However, medical holders are only required to pay 1% on income up to €12,012 and 3% on income over €12,012.

If there are any consumer issues that you’d like Gráinne to address or if you have problems that Gráinne could help with, she can be contacted at makingcents@examiner.ie

DEAL OF THE WEEK

Smartphones are still among the most popular gift options for teens at Christmas and, to help create the perfect bundle for under the tree, Vodafone have three pay-as-you-go gift sets on offer.

Two are aimed at music lovers.

For €99 you can get the Vodafone Smart turbo 7 with BeeWi BBH102 bluetooth headphones or €149.99 will get you the Vodafone Smart prime 7 with JBL T450BT bluetooth headphones.

The Smart turbo 7 comes in black only, while the Smart prime 7 are in black and white.

Both come with a SanDisk 16GB Memory Card for extra storage.

If you are buying for a rugby fan, check out the Samsung J3 Rugby gift set. For €249.99, Vodafone are bundling the Samsung J3, a pair of JBL T450BT bluetooth headphones, a Jamie Heaslip power bank and a voucher to claim an official Irish Pro Rugby jersey.

The jersey alone currently costs €80, making this decent value to get them kitted out for the upcoming Six Nations.


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