Thousands missing out on lucrative housing related tax reliefs

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  • Majority ‘unaware’ of beneficial reliefs worth €000s
  • 60% don’t know what the Rent a Room Scheme is
  • More utilisation of reliefs could possibly alleviate housing market woes
  • “If people don’t know solutions are out there – how can they be used to fix any problems?”

When it comes to housing reliefs and grants, the level of knowledge and awareness amongst the general public is vastly too low and is most likely resulting in widespread underutilisation. This is the assertion made by experts at Taxback.com following their latest Taxpayer Sentiment Survey, which found that 65% of people do not know what the Home Renovation Incentive is,  60% don’t know what the Rent a Room Scheme is, while 57% don’t know about the Help to Buy Scheme.

The leading tax refund specialists explored the perceptions of 1,000 of their customers throughout the country, of common place tax reliefs related to housing.

over half (56%) of respondents were not aware that the Help-to Buy (HTB) scheme exists to help First Time Buyers.

Eileen Devereux, Commercial Director of Taxback.com said, “The level of understanding of key housing related tax reliefs among the general public may be leaving a lot of people out in the cold, with a low awareness of some key tax incentives that could benefit many Irish home-owners. Some of the findings that stood out to us were that, even though the media appears to be dominated by discussions around mortgages and property and rates etc., over half (56%) of respondents were not aware that the Help-to Buy (HTB) scheme exists to help First Time Buyers. The number of HTB applications to the end of 2018 totalled just 16,133. What’s more, only 34% of people know what the Home Renovation Incentive is – this is a relief that could be of benefit to thousands of home owners throughout the country.

The findings of this survey are particularly important for two reasons – first, because they mean that some people could be missing out on the reliefs available to them, due to a lack of awareness or understanding. Secondly, reliefs such as Rent a Room could help to alleviate some of the current congestion problems in our rental sector, and could help, to some degree, to take pressure off the market which could have a knock on affect on costs, availability etc. However, if 60% people don’t know this solution is out there – then how can it be used to fix any problems?”

Taxback.com Taxpayer Sentiment Survey:

Which of the following is your understanding of the Home Renovation Incentive (HRI)?

  • I’ve no idea – 40%
  • A tax refund if you extend or renovate your home – 34%
  • A scheme to fund the renovation the homes of older people – 19%
  • A grant to move out of your home and let a homeless family move in – 7%

How much income can you receive under the Rent a Room scheme without paying any tax?

  • I don’t know what that is  – 60%
  • €14,000 – 15%
  • €3,000 – 14%
  • €7,000 – 9%
  • €20,000 – 2%

Who can receive the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)?

  • People on the local authority housing list who due to low incomes qualify for social housing – 67%
  • I don’t know what that is – 26%
  • Older people needing to pay other to assist in the cleaning of their house and make the necessary adjustments to improve their mobility in the home – 4%
  • Irish students in college abroad  – 2%
  • Foreign students studying in Ireland –  1%

Who can qualify from the Help to Buy (HTB) incentive is?

  • First Time Buyers – 44%
  • I don’t know what that is  –  26%
  • People in social housing looking to buy the home from the local authority – 18%
  • Anyone looking to buy a family home – regardless of whether or not they have bought previously  –  10%
  • People in negative equity looking to move  – 2%

The Facts & Figures

Taxback.com point to statistics from Revenue which show that these housing reliefs are perhaps being underutilised.

Ms. Devereux continued, “Just 7,350 people took up Rent a Room relief in 2016. We are confident that there are many others out there would might consider this income generating option if they knew they could earn up to €14,000 tax free.

In 2018, 28,882 works were carried out under the HRI, and while the uptake of this appears to be strong, the question remains – could/would more people use it if they knew about it? Home-owners and landlords that have made improvements in the last 4 years, like building an extension, a new garage, converting their attic, or installing a new kitchen or bathroom, could be eligible for this HRI relief, which provides a tax credit of 13.5% of the total cost of qualifying repairs, renovations and improvements. That sort of rebate could be a real boost to finances after the outlay of repair work. It is important that as many people as possible can avail of the support that’s out there.”

Ms. Devereux concluded, “We believe there are many more people who could be availing of these tax reliefs. More needs to be done to ensure people get to the information they need to make smarter choices about their finances.”

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