Making Cents: Revenue might have cash ready to return to you

Gráinne McGuinness offers consumer advice on income tax returns and getting yourself organised for tax refunds.

The end of October is a key date for those who file income tax returns, and we can expect plenty of reminders in the media over the next few weeks. The cut-off for PAYE workers is December 31, but this is a good time to get yourself organised if you haven’t made a tax refund before.

Revenue allow Irish taxpayers to claim up to four years back, so you can apply for refunds going back to 2011 once you claim before the end of the year.

Many PAYE workers have never claimed for a tax refund and online service Taxback.com believes that as a result, “every year thousands of people overpay taxes in Ireland without even being aware of it”.

Some people are put off making a claim by a fear that the procedure is complicated and too much work, but Revenue have introduced an online system myAccount to simplify the task. You register online at www.revenue.ie/en/online/myaccount and can then use the service to manage all your tax affairs, including applying for tax refunds.

You can also claim by filling in forms at your local revenue office, but the online system is much faster.

The first and most obvious source of refund is from medical expenses. Taxpayers are entitled to a refund at the standard rate of tax for a range of expenses in this area, including visits to a doctor or consultant, money spent on prescriptions, x-rays, hospital stays, non-routine dentistry and both educational psychological assessment and speech and language therapy for dependent children. Even if you have private health insurance, you can still claim for the portion of your expenses not covered by your policy. Nursing home fees can also be claimed and for these relief is at the top rate of tax. You do not have to submit receipts with the applications, but you do need to have receipts as Revenue can request them. Your doctor or dentist should be able to provide you with receipts if you do not already have them.

Rent relief is being phased out but if you were are in private rented accommodation and have been since December 7 2010, you are entitled to tax relief on it and again, once you get your claim in by the end of this year you can claim back to 2011.

The amount you can claim back depends on your age and personal circumstances, check revenue.ie for full details.

Another tax relief that many people are unaware of is flat rate (employment) expenses. These are expenses that are incurred in the performance of the taxpayer’s employment and a standard flat rate allowance is set for various classes of employee.

Not every job type is included but many are, ranging from miners to nurses, architects to airline cabin crew.

A full list is available on revenue.ie detailing all professions included and the set amount for each. You do not need any receipts to apply for this tax relief.

These are just the more common areas for tax relief, it is well worth going to revenue.ie to read the full list and check in case there are others that apply to you.

If you still feel overwhelmed, there are companies who will complete your returns for you, for a fee or percentage of the refund.

In addition to the aforementioned Taxback.com, Irish site www.paylesstax.ie also offer a range of tax services.

Citizensinformation.ie also offer advice on tax, and in particular offer detailed guides for people in specific circumstances such as tax credits and reliefs for people with disabilities and how separation or divorce will affect income tax credits and reliefs.

PAYE workers are used to seeing a hefty chunk of their wages go to pay tax in each payslip, if you are entitled to it, why not see some of it come back to you?

Deal of the week

Longer nights and colder weather mean that many Irish people are re-embracing their sofas and remote controls and preparing to watch a lot more telly over the winter months.

A Saorview box will get you the Irish channels for free, but most of us have been spoilt by choice and look for more variety.

With that in mind we looked for the best package available now for fans of the box. This tends to be an area where new customers get the best deals and that is the case with the best deal available at the moment, which is from Sky.

The Sky Original TV Bundle is available for just €19 per month, and the offer includes a free Sky+ box for new customers joining Sky TV online. The Sky+ box means you can pause, rewind and record TV programmes, and also allows you access to a huge range of box-sets on demand through your broadband.

It reverts to the full price of €29 pm after 12 months, but as the contract is for a year you can make a note to shop around again when the current deal is up. The bundle doesn’t include Sky Sports, but does have a range of favourites including Sky Atlantic, MTV and Sky News.


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