A Rent Tax Credit was introduced in December 2022 for tenants in private rental accommodation. It is a valuable benefit that can help to offset the high costs of renting in Ireland, by offering a 20% rebate of the costs to a limit of €500 for unmarried people who are eligible and €1000 for renters who are married or in a civil partnership. Of course, when compared to the average private rental costs, it’s not much but at a time when every cent counts, these are significant amounts of money.
Although a positive step, it is not without issues. One problem is that it is only available to those who are paying rent to a private landlord. This means that tenants who are either living in social housing or are in receipt of HAP supports are not eligible. People renting from a family member are also ineligible to claim the credit.
Even for those who are eligible, accessing the credit can be a difficult and confusing process. To complete the form on the Revenue website, a tenant must know their landlord’s name, address, and PPS number, as well as the tenancy registration number. Accessing these details depends on the cooperation of the landlord, and therefore on a good relationship between him or her and the tenant. It also depends on landlord having registered their tenancy with the RTB something which now needs to be done annually and which is not guaranteed. Unregistered tenancies leave tenants unable to claim the rebate, and there have been reports online of landlords threatening to raise the rent if pressured to register the tenancy.
Another issue is that many tenants may not be aware of the tax credit and its benefits in the first place. A recent survey by Taxback.com found that 70% of private tenants were unaware of their entitlement to the rebate. Although the survey is undoubtedly part of a publicity campaign by the company, which claims commission to navigate the Revenue system for PAYE claimants, it is credible that the availability of this credit is information that’s not widely known. It could easily be remedied by an information campaign by Revenue itself, rather than by a press release from Taxback.com. Letting people know, in simple terms, what they are entitled to and how to get it is the basic level of public service that we should be able to expect from Government.
It could be made easier for people to access the rent tax credit, by reducing the need for so many details to be submitted to Revenue, as well as broadening its scope to include tenants whose tenancies are not registered with the RTB. Tenants should not be penalised for their landlords’ actions and in a climate where rents are still rising and a third of people are struggling to get by , people need all the help they can get.