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Personal Finance

Hundreds of thousands failing to claim tax relief each year

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Hundreds of thousands failing to claim tax relief each year
Conor Dever

Conor Dever

Staff Writer

No one likes paying tax, and many bemoan Ireland’s high rates, but hundreds of thousands of people are paying too much and not remedying the situation by claiming back tax relief that’s owed to them. The average tax refund is €494, but hundreds of thousands of people fail to claim what they're due.

Figures from the CSO show the number in the labour force is 2,399,300, with 2,255,00 of those currently working, meaning that there were more than 2 million people paying tax in the country in 2017, meaning they are all eligible to claim back tax on things like medical expenses  

However in this time only 20% did so, with just 454,700 claiming back on medical expense tax relief last year.

“Most people have to make at least one trip to the doctor over the year, but even if they manage to avoid it this year – surely, they have had to go at some stage in the previous four years? That’s how far back you can go when claiming medical expense relief. Analysis of our own customer records indicates the average refund for medical expenses over 4 years totals €494”, Eileen Devereux, Commercial Director at Taxback.com explained.

“But Revenue figures show, in no uncertain terms, that the medical expense relief, which arguably has the most application to households throughout the country, is probably the most underutilised tax relief available.”

The most common medical expenses

Taxback.com say the most common medical expenses include:

  • GP
  • Medicines
  • Physiotherapy
  • Hospital
  • Surgical
  • Dental
  • Nursing appliance

While tax forms may frighten the life out of you, Ms Devereux insists that they’re worthwhile:

“Thousands of Euro worth of medical and non-routine dental expense refunds, while probably the most widely known of all tax refunds, still go unclaimed every year. The reasons for this are varied but feedback from clients suggests that one reason is that they believe the process is too complex and time consuming. I can understand why people might think this – anything to do with tax and form filling tends to make people’s eyes glaze over, but in reality, this is one of the most straightforward things you’ll ever do in terms of “personal admin” – easier than shopping online I would say.

She was there to dispense with some good advice to help you stay on top of your records:

We advise all our clients to start keeping their receipts in a shoebox or a drawer going forward and if they have not done this, to request copies of receipts from their GP/ practitioner or their chemist. Some practices charge a small fee for this but that should not be prohibitive i.e. you’re still going to get back more than you’ve spent. In addition, most pharmacies will be able to give you a “year-end” receipt, totalling your spending during the year. Some are even promoting this as a means of keeping customers.

How to claim back tax relief  

Claiming your tax back couldn’t be simpler. You can do it yourself online through Revenue’s easy-to-use online system or you can use the services of Taxback.com and have them do it for you, but you will incur a fee.

We advise you to give it a shot by yourself first to see if you can do, because it really is as easy as it can be, but if you get stuck and need some help, we won't judge.

Let us know

Have you claimed your refund yet? Why not? Was it easy? Does the whole thing seem daunting enough to make you want to crawl back into bed? Get in touch if you have any thoughts.

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