Pensioners and carers’ outrage at new Revenue tax demand

Aileen Hahesy

Aileen Hahesy

The Revenue Commissioners decision to tax pensioners earning over a certain income has been slammed as “scandalous” by a leading Active Retirement Association figure in South Tipperary, who is a former Fine Gael councillor.

Jimmy Hogan, Chairman of Carrick-on-Suir Active Retirement Association, said pensioners paid their taxes during their working lives and it was very unfair to tax them when they are retired.

He said pensioners were now paying for the mess they have inherited but he felt the “big boys” were still getting away with not paying their fair share.

Mr Hogan, who is in his 80s and was a Fine Gael county and town councillor for many years, was one of the 115,000 pensioners, who received the Revenue Commissioners letters indicating he may face increased tax demands in the coming year.

“I rang the Revenue Commissioner that morning and was told I had nothing to worry about. I was delighted to hear it,” said Mr Hogan, whose wife is in a nursing home.

Revenue have stated that they will be targeting individuals, who are over 65 years of age and earning more than €18,000 per annum, or €36,000 for a retired couple.

This means that individuals who are in receipt of a pension from the Department of Social Protection and who have another source of income could face an increased tax burden.

Mr Hogan said he hasn’t received much reaction yet from fellow members of Carrick-on-Suir Active Retirement Association about the Revenue Commissioners letters but he believed the issue may be raised at the association’s first meeting after the Christmas break this Thursday.

Meanwhile, Manager of the Carers Association Resource Centre in Clonmel, Cllr Richie Molloy, reported that the Centre has received a lot of calls about the Revenue Commissioners letters from worried pensioners, who care for loved ones at home.

The Independent councillor said the Revenue Commissioners have handled the issue very badly and the Carers Association wanted the Commissioners to run a public awareness campaign over the next few weeks highlighting the amounts pensioners must earn before they become liable for tax.

“In most cases where a pensioner is on the Old Age Pension and drawing a Carers Allowance they won’t be liable for tax. We are stressing that this won’t effect the bulk of carers w involved with the Carers Association and we are advising carers to contact us with any concerns and queries and we will try and chase them up.”

South Tipperary Independent TD Mattie McGrath has also sharply criticised the Revenue Commissioners for the way they handled the letters sent to thousands of pensioners and reported that his office has been inundated with calls from worried pensioners and widows trying to find out what impact it will have on them.

“It is absolutely appalling that these letters were sent to pensioners without advance notice or explanation. These letters have caused huge anxiety for so many pensioners, who fear that they may now be liable for a large tax bill.” said Deputy McGrath.

“The letters, which many have found most confusing, do nothing to explain the actual position and advise the recipients to contact Revenue with queries. However their help lines have been engaged almost constantly since Thursday.

“The Revenue Commissioners should have anticipated that these letters would cause huge concern and should have issued information to the media to allay the fears of pensioners and to explain the situation prior to the issuing of these letters.

Pensioners have now been left worried that they may be liable for a tax bill of thousands when in the majority of cases; this will not be the case. It is also shocking that letters have been sent to people who have no tax liability whatsoever,” he continued.

“It is quite simply unacceptable that pensioners can be frightened in such a way at this time, when so many are already worrying about how they will heat their homes.”