Restrictive scheme could fuel black economy

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has criticised the Minister for Finance for failing to adequately highlight the severe restrictions on those wishing to have work done under the Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) Scheme announced in the October Budget.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has criticised the Minister for Finance for failing to adequately highlight the severe restrictions on those wishing to have work done under the Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) Scheme announced in the October Budget.

Deputy McGrath said he was contacted by constituents who, although they wished to proceed with much-needed home improvement works, had to be told by Deputy McGrath that they were ineligible under the current provisions of the scheme.

“There are many people contacting my office looking for details about how to claim back some of the cost for works to their home and have now had to postpone it due to the miserly small print contained in the Budget and outlined by Revenue on their website. I recently had to tell a pensioner that the windows she badly needs work done on cannot proceed because she is in receipt of a Department of Social Protection Widows Pension; the relief is only available if you pay Income Tax under PAYE or Self-Assessment and even If you don’t pay tax the possibility of someone else paying for the works and claiming the tax credit is also excluded since the tax credit is only available to the homeowner,” said Deputy McGrath.

The scheme started on October 25 and is due to end on December 31, 2015, but if you get your planning permission before this, the scheme will apply until March 31, 2016. The relief is payable over the two years following the year in which the work is carried out and paid for and has been characterised as very much a delayed bonus, split 50:50 over two years.

“It seems on the face of it that if you are on social welfare or a state pension and live in a house in need of repair then you will just have to pay the full cost of the works without hope of any rebate. I fail to see why some mechanism cannot be introduced to at least allow the working children of the elderly who wish to contribute to the repair of their parents houses to claim back some relief like that which is provided for more financially secure people who can pay independently. The deeply ironic thing about this is that although the measure was introduced to reduce the activity of the so called ‘black economy’ it will probably end up strengthening it in its current form,” said Deputy McGrath.