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Reader Q&A: From rents to tax to pensions, your questions about the Budget answered

We found the answers to your Budget questions, from the renters’ tax credit and fuel allowance to childcare and electric vehicles.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe
Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe
Image: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

ANOTHER BUDGET DAY has come and gone.

The lengthy, complicated changes that a new budget brings can come with more questions than answers, but we’ve got both for you here.

We asked readers to submit their questions about Budget 2023 and received dozens of queries since Tuesday evening.

We looked into your concerns and found the answers to some of your most frequently asked questions, from the renters’ tax credit and fuel allowance to childcare and electric vehicles.

To figure out what changes to tax in the Budget mean for your payslip, use The Journal’s Budget Calculator.

And you can find more details across The Journal on issues like the increase of tax band thresholdsthe introduction of a tax on vacant homesreduction of childcare costs, and investment in healthcare.

Tax credit for renters

  • With regards to the €500 tax credit for renters, am I right in assuming that renters under the Rent a Room scheme will not qualify to claim this relief?

Actually, renters using the Rent a Room scheme will qualify for the new €500 credit.

Budget documents outline that the credit applies to renters in the private rented sector who are not in receipt of any other State housing support.

However, the Department of Finance confirmed to The Journal that the credit will apply for renters in the Rent a Room scheme. Further details will be published in an upcoming finance bill.

The Rent a Room relief is claimed by the person who is letting the room rather than the renter.

  • I started renting my first apartment this year and have just checked and discovered my landlord is not registered with the RTB. The rent is not too bad so I’m afraid to mention it. How will him not being registered affect me getting the new €500 tax credit?

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe told reporters yesterday that yes, your landlord must be registered with the RTB to avail of the credit.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien further said that a tenant will “claim it on the basis of the registered tenancy number that they have”.

The credit is to be claimed through Revenue but it is not clear as yet at which point a tenancy number will be requested.

Landlords are legally required to register their tenancies with the RTB, which they can do online on the Board’s website.

An unregistered tenancy can be reported directly to the RTB.

  • Myself and my wife rent a house. We are jointly assessed on our tax. Will both of us be able to claim the rent tax credit as we both pay the rent?

Yes, both partners can claim the €500 credit, the Department of Finance told The Journal.  

Pensions

  • I’m a retired public servant receiving €20,678 per year pension. Other than the electricity credits, does the budget affect my earnings in any other way?

The maximum weekly rate for state pensions is increasing by €12 from January 2023, with a proportionate increase for anyone receiving a lower rate than the maximum.

The means test disregard for the Fuel Allowance for people aged 70 years and over is increasing to €500 for a single person and €1,000 for a couple. Additionally, the normal means assessment threshold for the allowance is increasing from €120 to €200 from January.

A double pension payment will be paid in both October and December. 

For anyone in receipt of the Living Alone Allowance, an extra €200 will be issued in November. 

In the Department of Finance’s Budget tax policy documents, it outlines an example of how the Budget affects someone in this type of position.

In its example, a 72-year-old is receiving a pension worth around €26,000, the Living Alone Allowance and the Fuel Allowance. 

He will receive the €400 lump sum Fuel Allowance and €200 lump sum Living Alone allowance, both of which will be paid in November, as well as electricity credits in November, January and March.

He will also receive an additional weekly pension payment in both October and December.  

Transport

  • I didn’t see anything about electric vehicle grants in the budget so far. It would be great to know if the grant amount and bands have changed?

The Budget has not changed the electric vehicle grants scheme.

Currently, the grants are worth €5,000 and are due to remain at that rate until July.

After that, the grants will begin to be phased out, dropping first to €3,000.

At a post-Budget announcement press briefing yesterday, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said the government expects the cost of electric vehicles to fall as the market becomes more competitive and so it will instead focus on funding infrastructure such as charging points in future years.

Carer and Disability Allowances

  • Is the €500 one-time disability lump sum getting paid to people who are receiving Disability Allowance?
  • Is there any resources on how the one-off €500 carer and disabled person’s payments are going to be rolled out? Will people not on Disability Allowance still qualify? Many people with disabilities are working, students, or on other payments like Illness Benefit, Invalidity Pension, Back to Education, or Jobseekers.  

The Budget announced two one-off payments in the area of social protection – €500 for people receiving the Carer’s Support Grant and €500 as a disability support grant.

The payment for carers will be paid in November. It will be given carers who receive the Carer’s Support Grant, which is an annual payment for carers in receipt of the Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit, or Domiciliary Care Allowance and certain other carers providing full-time care. 

The disability support grant will also be paid in November. It will be paid to people receiving long-term Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension or Blind Pension.

Fuel Allowance

  • Aside from the lump sums, are there any changes in the Fuel Allowance rate or an extension in the weeks that it is paid?

The means assessment threshold for the Fuel Allowance is increasing from €120 to €200 from January 2023, which is expected to expand the allowance to around 81,000 new households.

If you are in receipt of the half-rate Carer’s Allowance or Disablement Benefit, these will now be disregarded in the means assessment for the Fuel Allowance from January.

However, rate of payment will remain the same at €33 per week for 28 weeks from September until April. This was unchanged by the Budget.

The lump sum payment to households receiving the Fuel Allowance that the Budget introduced will be worth €400 and be paid in November.

Living Alone Allowance

  • Is the Living Alone Allowance going up by €12 or is it just the core payments?

The €12 weekly increase in social protection payments applies to the maximum rates of jobseekers, carers, and disability payments, as well as the State pension (with lower increases in the case of payments less than the maximum rates), which are due to take affect from January.

The Living Alone Allowance is not one of the payments included in the €12 increase. There will, however, be a €200 lump-sum payment in November for people receiving the allowance.

Childcare

  • Do people who have young kids in childminders qualify for any reduction or does it just apply to a crèche?

The Budget announcement told parents using full-time early learning and childcare services that they can expect an average reduction in cost of 25%. 

The Journal put this reader’s question to the Department of Children, which said that childcare providers must be registered with Tusla to be eligible for the National Childcare Scheme, which private childminders typically are not.

In a statement, the department outlined: “The Childcare Support Act 2018, which provides a statutory basis for the National Childcare Scheme, specifies that only Tusla-registered providers are eligible to participate in the scheme.”

Speaking to reporters in Government Buildings on Wednesday morning, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said it will most likely be the end of 2023 or early 2024 when a new system in in place to allow childminders onto the scheme.

He said childminders have been “left aside” from Government supports for a number of years due to the “ad hoc” nature of their service.

The statement from the department The limitation of public funding schemes to Tusla-registered childcare providers helps to ensure that public funding is provided where there is assurance of the quality of provision.”

The department said that “while only a small number of childminders are currently required to register with Tusla under the Child Care Act 1991, it is intended that the National Action Plan for Childminding 2021-2028 will result in the opening up of the National Childcare Scheme to a much wider cohort of childminders”.

It said that the National Action Plan for Childminding “commits to opening the National Childcare Scheme to childminders at the earliest possible opportunity, though it will be necessary first to develop and introduce childminder-specific regulations, and to give childminders adequate time and support to meet regulatory requirements”.

If you have a question about Budget 2023, we want to hear from youSend your questions to answers@thejournal.ie

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About the author:

Lauren Boland

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