Dáil Éireann - Volume 628 - 22 November, 2006

Written Answers. - Tax Code.

Mr. English asked the Minister for Finance if he has instructed the Revenue Commissioners to conduct an estimate of under claiming of tax reliefs by taxpayers; and the latest estimate which he has of the extent of the problem. [39144/06]

  Mr. Cowen: I have not instructed the Revenue Commissioners to conduct an estimate of underclaiming of tax reliefs by taxpayers. Revenue advise me that in the current year to the end of October, they have made a total of 485,000 repayments involving an amount of €353 million. This is the factual situation in relation to what has been claimed and it is difficult to speculate about what more might be claimable.

I am satisfied that Revenue are very proactive in ensuring that taxpayers are fully informed of their entitlements. During August, September and October this year, Revenue ran an intense high profile campaign to encourage taxpayers to claim the reliefs to which they are entitled. This campaign involved advertisements on bus shelters, the DART and the Luas and there is a continuing campaign of placing leaflets and claim forms in clinics, doctors’ surgeries and pharmacies. There has been a positive outcome to this campaign which is shown in a significant increase in the number of people contacting Revenue and [242] claiming entitlements particularly in relation to trade union subscriptions, bin charges and age, rent, home carers and dependent relative credits. It is expected that the campaign will also lead to an increase in the number of claims in relation to health expenses at the end of this year and early in the New Year when the majority of these claims are normally made.

Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the escalation of stamp duty costs on young families; and his views on measures to relieve this. [39127/06]

  Mr. Cowen: I take it that the Deputy’s question relates to stamp duty on residential property.

The rate of stamp duty on residential property is dependent on the status of the buyer (first time buyer or owner occupier) and whether the property is new or second hand. Stamp duty is chargeable on the purchase of residential properties greater than €127,000. There are exemptions available for first time buyers and owner occupiers. First time buyers can purchase second hand properties up to €317,500 without a liability to stamp duty. In addition, there are reduced rates on properties up to €635,000. All owner occupiers (including first time buyers) can purchase a new home between 38sq. m and 125sq. m., where a Floor Area Compliance Certificate has been obtained, without a liability to stamp duty. Where a new house is over 125sq. m., stamp duty is charged on either the value of the site or 25% of the value of the property, whichever is the greater. As stamp duty arises on the conveyance or transfer of the legal title in a house, there is a direct relationship between the price of the house and the stamp duty payable. It is therefore logical that the greater the house prices, the higher the stamp duty liability.