Almost half of people eligible for the Government’s rent credit tax relief scheme have yet to apply for the help, nine months after the policy was first announced.
New figures obtained by RTÉ News show that despite the rent credit tax relief scheme plan being a cornerstone of Budget 2023, to date just 230,000 out of 400,000 eligible people have requested the support.
Under the rent credit tax relief scheme, a single person who is renting is eligible to receive €500 a year from Revenue, while a couple who are renting are eligible to receive €1,000.
In addition, parents or guardians of a student who are paying the accommodation costs of a student living away from home are also entitled to receive the financial support.
Requests can currently be made for 2022 and 2023, while the scheme is currently due to continue until 2025.
However, the relatively low uptake has led to concerns over its existing effectiveness, with critics pointing to the fact renters can only access the fund if their landlord is registered with the Residential Tenancies Board.
In addition, critics have also noted the scheme amounts to €9.60 a week per person, at a time when the latest daft.ie report said average household rents in Dublin now stand at €2,300 a month and average household rents nationwide at €1,700.
In a statement in response to the figures, a spokesperson for the Department of Finance said Minister for Finance Michael McGrath has “asked Revenue to conduct an information campaign” to highlight the “key tax credits and reliefs available to taxpayers”.
The spokesperson added that “any changes to the rate or the terms of the rent tax credit would be a budgetary item and will be considered by Minister McGrath in the context of preparations for Budget 2024, alongside other taxation items”.
Housing charity Threshold’s chief executive John Mark McCafferty said there is a need for the Government and Revenue to highlight what supports are available for renters, particularly during a deepening cost of living crisis.
However, he added that “while renters may know that the tax credit is available, they are reticent to approach their landlord because their tenancy may not be registered or because their landlord may not be completely tax compliant”.
Marian Ryan, Director of Business Development with Taxback.com, echoed those sentiments saying many renters had come ‘up against a brick wall’ when it came to claiming the for credit.
“One of the criteria is that you have to be renting from a private landlord who is registered with the RTB (Residential Tenancies Board). A huge number of people are fearful of having any conversation around that in case it triggers an increase in rent,” she told Morning Ireland.
“Or many landlords are simply not registered with the RTB and are not willing to do so and that means many people are missing out on the refund.”
Ms Ryan said eligible taxpayers should consider applying.
“It’s a really valuable tax credit,” she said.
Further information on the rent credit tax relief scheme is available at revenue.ie.