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Taxing Times – Are you claiming all your tax reliefs?

Know your entitlements
According to the Revenue Commissioners, there were 1.4 million claims for tax reliefs last year, more than three times the number in 2004 (around 402,000).

There are no hard figures on how much in tax relief goes unclaimed every year, but it is generally assumed to be millions of euro.

Consumer and tax experts say now is a good time to start claiming any tax reliefs due to you.

Over the past couple of years, some reliefs have been abolished, while others have been scaled back. But you can still claim for tax reliefs for any expenditure made as far back as 2006.

This means that you can submit a claim for tax relief relating to expenditure which took place during the tax years 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, as long as the claim is submitted before December 31, 2010.

Medical expenses
You can claim relief on most medical expenses, such as doctor or consultant fees and prescribed medication. There are some exceptions, such as routine visits to the dentist or optician.

In the October 2008 emergency budget, the Government announced a reduction in medical expenses relief from 41pc to 20pc from 2009.

Service charges
It was recently announced that tax relief on domestic service charges, such as bin collections, are to be abolished from 2011 onwards.

However, you can still claim back relief on any waste, water and sewage service charges paid to a local authority or private operator from 2006, and of course you will still be able to claim relief for 2010 next year.

You can claim 20pc relief on such charges up to €400 a year, which means an annual relief of up to €80.

Employment expenses
A standard flat-rate expenses allowance is available for various classes of employee, ranging from around €30 up to €700. For example, airline cabin crews are granted flat-rate expenses of €64 per year for the cost of maintaining their uniform or work clothes.

Rent relief
If you are a tenant in private, rented accommodation and aged under 55, you can claim 20pc relief on up to €2,000 of rent that you paid during the year, which means you could get up to €400 back, or €800 for a couple.

The limit doubles to €4,000 per person if you are over 55, which means up to €800, or €1,600 for a couple.

Tuition fees
You can claim back tax relief at 20pc on fees paid for third-level courses for your children as well as for yourself or your spouse. The maximum relief on such fees is limited to €5,000 a year, which means you could get back up to €1,000 in any one year.

Home carers
If you or your spouse cares for a dependent person in your own home, you and your spouse can get a home carer’s tax credit of €900 as long as the carer earns no more than €5,080 a year and you are jointly assessed for tax.

If the carer earns no more than €6,880, then this credit is reduced.

Trade union subscriptions
If you are a member of a trade union, you can claim relief on membership subscriptions up to a maximum of €350 a year at the standard 20pc rate, which equates to about €70.

Tax relief at source
Relief for private health insurance premiums and mortgage interest for first-time buyers are usually applied at source.

This means that your lender or insurer will reduce your mortgage repayments or insurance premiums by the amount of tax relief you are entitled to each year.

Additional Reading on Tax Relief

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