Written Answers. - Tax Reliefs.

Thursday, 10 February 2000

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 514 No. 2

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  77.  Mr. R. Bruton  Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton   asked the Minister for Finance  Information on Charlie McCreevy  Zoom on Charlie McCreevy   if he will introduce a more flexible scheme of tax relief for carers which is currently confined to medical expenses or employing a person to give care in order that items of costs, for example, day care payments and sitting in the house to allow the carer out, could be allowable for tax relief. [3780/00]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy): Information on Charlie McCreevy  Zoom on Charlie McCreevy  Income tax reliefs are currently available in respect of carers for relief for health expenses and relief for [467] employed person taking care of incapacitated individual. An individual may claim tax relief for certain medical expenses incurred on behalf of a dependent relative in respect of whom he or she is entitled to a “dependent relative” tax allowance. Most non-routine medical and dental expenses, not already re-imbursed or re-imbursable by the VHI, BUPA or regional health authorities, including such items as the cost of doctors' visits, maintenance or treatment in a hospital, transport by ambulance, are allowable. Certain items prescribed by a doctor, will also qualify for relief, for example, engaging a qualified nurse in the case of a serious illness, physiotherapy or similar treatment, drugs and medicines, hearing aids, orthopaedic bed-chair, wheelchair-wheelchair lift – no relief is due for alteration to the building to facilitate a lift – and glucometer machine for a diabetic. Maintenance in an approved nursing home also qualifies for relief which is available at the individual's marginal rate of tax.

Tax relief of up to £8,500 per annum, is available where an individual employs a carer to look after an incapacitated relative. For the purposes of this relief, a ‘relative' includes a relation by marriage, and a person in respect of whom the individual is or was the legal guardian. Carers may be employed on an individual basis or through an agency. The relief is not due where the carer is employed as a housekeeper only. The relief is available at the individual's marginal rate of tax.

The Deputy will be aware that I propose to introduce a new allowance for home carers in the Finance Bill, 2000. The allowance of £3,000 will be available at the standard rate of tax, in respect of homeworking spouses caring for children, the aged – 65 or over – or incapacitated persons. It will be possible for such homeworkers to have a certain level of income from part-time work and-or the social welfare carer's allowance without affecting the new homecarer's allowance. The Revenue Commissioners have advised me that the type of expenditures referred to by the Deputy would not normally be eligible for relief under the existing reliefs referred to above.

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