Ask the experts

Tax relief for home buyers and tax changes are the hot budget 2017 topics on our expert Q&A

Dominic Coyle, Fiona Reddan, Beryl Power, Alanna O’Doherty Wed, Oct 12
LIVE: Ask the experts

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  • 07:42
    Good morning, and welcome to The Irish Times liveblog. We have experts on hand to answer your Budget 2017 questions, on everything from tax and relief for first-time buyers to the new measures to ease the burden of childcare costs on families.
  • 07:44
    There are plenty of questions already submitted, so we'll get right down to it.
  • 07:46

    Q: Is there any increase children allowance?  

    A: No, there was no change to child benefit in yesterday's budget

  • 07:48

    Q: I read on RTE that the first time buyers grant will only be applicable for people drawing down a mortgage of 80% of the value of the property. Is this correct? I hope not as we are drawing down 78%.  

    A: Good morning, yes you are correct. In his budget speech Minister Noonan said that those drawing down a lower loan to value ratio than 80% are not in need of the scheme. You could check with your mortgage provider before you draw down your mortgage.  

  • 07:49

    Q: Does the new help to buy scheme include building a new house or is it just buying a new house?

    A:  The new scheme will also assist those looking to build once-off houses for their own occupation (it must be your principal private residence).  

  • 07:51

    Q: I've been working full time for the last two years since returning from Australia. Can I avail of the new help to buy scheme?

    A: You can avail of the scheme. However, you can only get the rebate for four years if you have four years of Irish income tax paid. In your case, right now, you could only get the rebate for the past two years.  

  • 08:05
    Q: Hi there, I have a query about the new house rebate. I purchased a new build on 25th July 2016. Contracts are dated 24th May 2016. Can I claim the rebate?

    A: No you cannot. Only contracts signed on or after July 19th, 2016 will be eligible.
  • 08:11

    Q: What benefits are there for self-employed people?

    A:  Good morning. There has been an increase in the annual earned tax credit from €550 to €950. There has also been a decrease in the USC rates (this would represent a saving of c. €250 pa for a single person earning €50k). To get an accurate read of the changes for you, visit  the Budget 2017 calculator.

  • 08:18

    Q: I am a 26-year-old college grad making €33,000 a year. My biggest expense is rent and it's pushed me to want to buy a home. As a potential First Time Buyer what does this budget mean for me?

    A: On the purchase of a new house, you will be entitled to a rebate of income tax paid over the previous four years up to 5% of the purchase price of up to €400,000.  Where the new home is valued between €400,000 and €600,000 the maximum relief will be €20,000.  Say for example you were to purchase a new home worth €100,000 then you would be entitled to a rebate of €5,000.

  • 08:27

    Q: Hi, will mortgage interest relief apply to those who took out their mortgage after 2012 (in 2015 for example)? I wonder what this Government will do for those who secured a mortgage between 2013-2016?

    A: Hi, mortgage interest relief only applies to those who took out their mortgage by December 31st 2012. People who purchased their home in 2013 are exempt from property tax until 2019.

  • 08:29

    Q: As a FTB who signed for a new build last Tuesday for a house bought at 270K, how will the FTB rebate be received? Papers signed but mortgage yet to be drawn down until next week or a little later. Will it simply reduce mortgage repayments or will a refund/cheque be received? Also, is the 5% in the full 270K or less the deposit?

    A: It is anticipated that you will be able to  use an electronic facility on the Revenue’s website from January 2017 to claim  your income tax rebate. The rebate will be based on 5% of the purchase price.

  • 08:31

    Q: I have two children in creche and I am paying €1,800 a month. My household gross income is €90,000. Am I due any help in the budget in relation to creche fees?  

    A: The proposal is for a €960 annual  subsidiary for all parents with children aged six months to three years in registered  care.

  • 08:33

    Q: I earn €23,000 per annum as a widow - how will budget affect me?

    A:  Good morning. The changes in USC will give rise to a saving of c€118 per annum for you. (I have assumed that this income does not relate to or include a widow’s pension)


  • 08:38

    Q: Any increase in Child Benefit?

    A:  There has been no increase in child benefit. However there is an increase in the home carer tax credit from €1,000 to €1,100 (which can apply where one parent is caring for one of more dependent persons).

  • 08:40

    Q:  What extra PRSI dental benefits were announced?

    A:  From October those with the requisite PRSI stamps will qualify for an annual free scale and polish; free dental care will also be extended to the self-employed from March 2017.

  • 08:43

    Q: We put a deposit on a new house valued at 455,000 in August but will not be moving until it is complete in summer 2017. Are we entitled to the rebate, and if so, when will we receive it?

    A: The key date to bear in mind is July 19th 2016 - as you purchased the house after this date, and don't appear to have yet signed contracts, which is the part of the transaction that impacts eligibility of the scheme, it would appear that you should qualify.  

  • 08:46

    Q: Does the increase in welfare payments apply to the state maternity benefit?

    A:  Yes maternity benefit will also increase by €5 a week to €235.

  • 08:48

    Q:  Does the new help to buy scheme rebate apply to a new self build home?  

    A: The Help to Buy Scheme also applies to self-build properties. To qualify you must draw down the first tranche of the mortgage on or after 19 July 2016.

  • 08:50
    If you have a question of your own, you can submit it here.
  • 08:51

    Q: The figure of €225/€227 is mentioned as being the new figure for the State Pension inclusive of the €5 increase. This shows a drop in the pension rather than an increase. At present the SP is €233.30 and it would rise to €238.30. Where is the figure of €225/€227 coming from?  

    A:  The state pension (contributory)  will rise to €238.30 a week from March 2017 and to €248.30 a week for those aged 80 and over. The figure of €227 you refer to is the non-contributory pension which is to rise from €222 a week.


  • 08:52

    A:  When do you think the date for implementation of the new 10% rate for entrepreneur tax will take effect. Will it be back dated?

    A: Neither of those issues will be clear until the Finance Bill is published, which is expected to be later this month.

  • 08:53
    Q: Regarding first time buyers, does the new scheme include self builds?

    A: Yes, the new scheme includes self builds.
  • 08:54
    Q: I earn 30000 a year, what will I gain from this?

    A: On the basis that you are single and earning €30k gross a year, you will see a reduction in USC of circa €153.  
  • 08:55
    Q:  Widowers pension?

    A: The minister announced that there will be an increase of €5 per week for weekly social welfare payments – this includes the widow’s pension.    
  • 08:56

    Q: Will the 5% rebate on homes for first time buyers only apply to new builds, or can I use it for buying a second hand home?

    A: The Help to Buy scheme only applies to new builds and not to second hand homes.  

  • 08:57

    Q: Will child benefit be cut?

    A: There are no changes to the child benefit allowance.


  • 08:57
    Remember, if you still have a question of your own, it's not too late! You can submit it  here.
  • 09:01

    Q: Has there been any changes in inheritance tax?

    A: Yes, the Group A lifetime tax-free  threshold applying to gifts and inheritances from parents to children is being  raised from €280,000 to €310,000. The  Group B lifetime tax-free threshold applying to gifts and inheritances made to close  relatives such as parents, siblings, nieces, nephews and grandchildren is being  raised from €30,150 to €32,500. The
    Group C lifetime tax-free threshold which applies to gifts and inheritances for  all others (except spouses and civil partners who are exempt) is being raised  from €15,075 to €16,250.

  • 09:09

    Q: Earning €55,000 and spouse €65,000 how much better off will the reduction in USC be per week ?  

    A:  In terms of the reduction in USC, you should be better off by approximately €12 per week.

  • 09:11

    Q: First time buyers new build cost €270,000. Contracts signed two weeks ago. Do we get anything front the first time buyers grant? We need deposit of €36,000 and we have paid 10% so far of €27000 on signing of contracts as house will not be finished until Jan 2017.

    A:  As your contracts were signed after July 19th 2016 it would appear that you should qualify. Based on 5% of purchase price of €270,000 you could receive a rebate of €13,500 if you have paid sufficient income tax over the last four years.  

  • 09:11

    Q:  Is the first time buyers tax incentive available if you are building your own house?

    A: As long as you meet all other qualifying criteria, the scheme is available if you are building your own house.  

  • 09:13

    Q: €74,000 gross - what is the reduction in USC?

    A:  Morning, on the basis that you are a single individual earning €74,000 gross, you will see a reduction of circa €350 per annum in USC. However, as each individual circumstances can vary, visit the Budget 2017 calculator to get an accurate read of the changes.

  • 09:14

    Q: I am just wondering when and how can I apply for the first time buyers 5% grant incentive? Do I get an approved letter from the government to give to the bank?

    A: It is anticipated that you will be able to use  an electronic facility on the Revenue’s website from January 2017 to claim your  income tax rebate.  




  • 09:15

    Q: I'm on invalidity pension, will I get an increase?

    A:  Yes, you will receive an extra €5 a week.

  • 09:20

    Q: I bought a house in august 16 for 300000. I paid €61,000 as a deposit .
    I have a 10-year-old son and a stay home wife. Will I be eligible to any home buyers or any other relief?

    A:  Unless the contract was signed on or after 19 July 2016 and it was a new property, you will not be able to avail of the relief. If contracts are signed on or after 19 July 2016, relief can be obtained for eligible purchases between 19 July 2016 and 31 December 2016 by way of a rebate from Revenue in January 2017 (this assumes you have paid sufficient income tax in the previous 4 years).  There has been an increase in the home carer tax credit (from €1,000 to €1,100) which applies where one spouse cares for dependents at home. There has been a reduction in the USC rates so you will benefit from a reduction in USC. The exact amount will depend on your income and personal tax circumstances – visit the Budget calculator for more information. If you are self-employed, you will benefit from an increase in the earned income credit – this has increased from €550 to €950.  

  • 09:22

    Q: A mortgage taken out for a new build house costing €245.000 (mortgage €210.000) on the 17th June 2016. Can you let me know if I am eligible for the first-time buyers of new homes tax rebate?

    A:  It appears not. The Help to Buy Incentive has been backdated to July 19th, 2016 and any contracts entered into after that date will be covered but not those that were agreed before that date.

  • 09:25

    Q: Could Noonan not have added 3% vat to these industries & take 3% away from the alcohol industry and leave the off licence the way it is! It would have evened itself out and then stopped the loss of jobs in the pub sector!

    A:  He could have, I guess, but his reasoning appears to have been that, for all their current strength, the fall in sterling means that next year is likely to be difficutl for the tourism sector as the UK remains our biggest single market for inward visitors.

  • 09:28

    Q: No mention of Dwelling House relief in the budget despite rumours of changes expected. Might we still see changes in the Finance Bill?

    A: The details of the Finance Bill have not been published yet. There was no mention of the CAT dwelling house exemption in yesterday’s Budget but keep an eye on  the Finance Bill as it is possible that changes could be introduced at this stage.  

  • 09:31

    Q: The minister in his speech said that the rent a room rate was being increased "this year". The Journal states it's from 1 Jan 2017. Paper of record please clarify!

    A: The rent a room scheme is being increased from €12,000 to €14,000 for 2017 and subsequent years.



  • 09:32

    Q:  Was there any reduction in the Drug Payment Scheme cost of €144 per month in the budget?  

    A:  There was no reduction in the Drug Payment Scheme.

  • 09:33

    Q: Will people who are receiving the state maternity benefit get the Christmas bonus too?

    A: No recipients of this benefit are not entitled to the Christmas bonus.

  • 09:34

    Q: One of the big problems with our Cities, towns and villages is that less and less people are living in the centre of them and many dwelling or potential dwellings are derelict. The relief on new build only houses will surely make this worse. What do you think?

    The centres will not be rejuvenated with younger couples and children. Surely this is not joining up the dots.

    A:  Budget measures tend to answer specific issues more often than putting in place strategic policy, and the critical issue now in the eys of Government is supply - hence the incentive to get more new homes built. It is worth noting that the Budget did also extend the scope of the Living City Initiative, which looks to regenerate city centres. Landlords are now allowed avail of the relief and the Minister also loosened some restrictions over floor size and previous use.


  • 09:42

    Q: Our mortgage interest relief is due to end in April 2017. Will it now continue to April 2020?

    A: Yes it will but it will be on a "on a tapered basis" which means that it will likely decrease. Full details to come in Budget 2018.

  • 09:44
    Questions are still coming in, but if you have one of your own, you can submit it here.  
  • 09:45

    Q: I'm a first time buyer who bought a new build property two weeks ago. My mortgage is under 80% of the cost of the property as we borrowed money from a family member to complete the purchase. As a result are do we fail to qualify for the first time buyer refund or is there flexibility?  

    A: As it stands, you do not qualify as the 80% threshold is absolute. According to the Budget documents: "Individuals who are in a position to avail of a mortgage at a lower loan to value ratio than 80% already have sufficient resources to more than meet the deposit requirements of the macro-prudential rules and thus are less in need of assistance from the Exchequer." I expect this issue to be raised with the Minister between now and the publicaiton of the Finance Bill. Clearly, however, there has to be some cut off.  

  • 09:46

    Can't believe the housing grant/benefit is restricted to new builds. Two children here who waited patiently to see what the budget would bring to help them get on the property ladder. Neither can afford new builds and want to do up an old house - so many lie derelict - why does the government not see this. The budget didn't help at all.

    A:  I guess, in large part, the incentive is designed to stimulate supply in the market. Minister Noonan specifically: "I expect the building industry to meet this additional demand [from the new incentive] by increasing the supply of new affordable homes." The Home Renovation Incentive was extended which might help people in your children's position though clearly it is not as generous.

  • 09:46

    Q:  Did widower/widowers get an increase in their pension?

    A:  Yes, the €5 increase in the state pension applies to all maximum weekly pension payments, including widow/widower's pension. The move means that the weekly payment will increase to €238.30 for those aged between 66-80 and to €248.30 for those aged over 80.

  • 09:48

    Q: I have just inherited an apartment from a parent. In regard to inheritance, can I opt out, in favour of my 3 daughters, so they will inherit under category B?  

    A:  You're moving very much into the realm of the legal rather than consumer finance here and I would strongly advise you to consult a solicitor before considering any such move. You can opt out of a will as best as I know but I don't think you have the option of choosing whom your benefit moves on to. That would be determined by the terms of the will. For instance, if a property was willed to siblings and one opts out, it is quite likely the other would inherit fully rather than half the value passing on to a next generation.

  • 09:49

    Q: I have a State Contributory Pension and claim for my wife as a dependent adult. Will I get an increase of €5 for her as well as for myself?

    A:  The qualified adult payment is also to rise by a "proportionate" amount. This means an increase of €3.30 a week to €158.80 for someone aged under 80 or €213.50 for someone over 80.  

  • 09:50

    Q: We're currently building a house at the moment, got our first draw down last January so am I entitled to any rebate after this budget, even though we would be moved in till middle of next year?

    A:  Looking at the terms of the new scheme it would appear that you won't qualify as the qualifying date for the first draw down is on or after July 19th 2016. Mr Noonan said in his speech "As with all time limited or targeted reliefs, there will always be those who just miss out."

  • 09:51

    Q: Does maternity benefit apply to self employed mothers the way recently introduced paternity benefit applies to self employed fathers?  

    A:  Yes maternity benefit, which has just been increased by €5 to €235 a week also applies to mothers who are self-employed.

  • 09:51

    In relation to the first time buyers rebate of up to €20,000, does this only apply if you apply for a mortgage of 80% of the value of the house?

    A: Yes, it does. Anyone applying for a mortgage of less than 80% of the value of the house will not be eligible even if they meet all other qualifying conditions.

  • 09:52

    Q: Got married recently, bought new house. I'm a first time buyer but my wife bought an apartment back in 2008 which is in negative I/we qualify for the budget grant?  

    A:  As your wife previously owned a property, as a couple you are not considered first-time buyers and are therefore not eligible.

  • 09:53

    Q: Capital acquisitions tax - any increase in threshold B?

    A: Yes, there has been an increase in the CAT thresholds. The Group A lifetime tax-free  threshold applying to gifts and inheritances from parents to children is being  raised from €280,000 to €310,000. The
    Group B lifetime tax-free threshold applying to gifts and inheritances made to close  relatives such as parents, siblings, nieces, nephews and grandchildren is being  raised from €30,150 to €32,500. The  Group C lifetime tax-free threshold which applies to gifts and inheritances for
    all others (except spouses and civil partners who are exempt) is being raised  from €15,075 to €16,250.  

  • 09:55

    Q: We are first time buyers looking on a property valued at €295,000. How much will be the tax rebate we get for this, and how can we get this? Do we get this to make up to the deposit money?

    A:  The maximum rebate under the help to buy scheme will be 5% of the purchase price. In your case, this will be €14,750. To get this, you will need ot apply to Revenuie but applications are not opening until January next. No doubt, extensive further details will be available before then.  

  • 09:56

    Q: Is there any information on how to apply for/receive the help to buy grant?

    A: I spoke with Revenue this morning and it says that the facility to apply for the grant is currently being developed with a view to being rolled out in January 2017. We won't know how the refund will be made - ie in a lump-sum or staged payments - until the Finance Bill, the Revenue says, adding that it is unable to provide any further details at the moment. The Finance Bill is due to be published on Thursday October 20th.

  • 09:56

    Q: How much paye needed to be paid over the past four years to qualify for the 1st time buyers relief?

    A: Eligible applicants for Help to Buy are entitled to claim a tax rebate of 5 per cent of the purchase price on a house valued at up €400,000. There is no minimum amount of tax you must have paid to qualify.

  • 09:59

    Q: I'm club captain of local tennis club in cork. Looking to find out when and what sports grants are coming out of our latest budget?

    A:  We don't yet know. All Minister Donohoe said yesterday was that there would be a new round of the Sports Capital Programme in 2017 and that Minister Ross would announce details "in due course". Not particularly helpful, but there you go.

  • 10:09

    Q: Single person on €27000 pa. What willmy  take home weekly pay be now? No dependants

    A: The only change affecting your take-home pay appears to be the change to USC rates and bands. The result - your weekly take home will rise from €443 to €446, a gain of €3 a week.

  • 10:13

    Q: How with the help to buy scheme work in effect? If approved, is the rebate drawn down to the bank? Or must the buyer have the deposit up front and be reimbursed?

    A: It is not clear how the rebate for the Help  to Buy will operate in practice. It is anticipated that you will be able to use  an electronic facility on the Revenue’s website from January 2017 to claim your  income tax rebate.

  • 10:15

    Q: I signed contracts for house purchase October 1st. It was never occupied but built in 2008?

    A:  We will have to wait until the small print of the Help to Buy Incentive is available. You meet the criteria having signed only on October 1st but I'd be sceptical that a 2008 built house qualifies even if it has not since been occupied.  

  • 10:16

    Q: I read that maximum prescription charge for over 70s will be reduced from €25 to €20 per month. Is this all over 70s or just over 70s in possession of a full medical card?

    A: It would appear to apply to all over 70s and will come into effect as of March 1st 2017.

  • 10:17

    Q: Does first time buyers grant apply to self builds?

    A:  Yes, it does, as long as the mortgage taken out on the project amounts ot 80 per cent of the value of the property.

  • 10:17

    Q: What measures are there in the Budget to stimulate job creation, particularly with regard to supports and incentives for businesses of all sizes?

    A: The Minister placed his emphasis on the 9% VAT rate for the hospitality sector to continue to grow jobs there and the Start Your Own Business initiative. I'm presuming he would argue the lower capital gains charge on entrepreneurs would encourage them to start businesses here and therefore create jobs.

  • 10:18

    Q: If you purchase a new build house in 2016 can you claim tax back from 2016 or does it have to be from 2011-2015. We only returned home from Australia to Ireland mid 2015 so paid no income tax in 2011-2015. We have signed contracts but yet to finalise as the house is not built? Is the date of purchase the date contracts are signed or the date the mortgage is drawn down and the transfer of ownership (at handover).

    A: Applications for the rebate will not start until January next year, even though the rebate applies to any home for which contracts were signed on or after July 19th this year. On that basis, I assume it will be the four tax years up to 2016, though that has not yet been specified.

  • 10:19

    Q: Have just started maternity leave, employer doesn't contribute and it was disappointing this was reduced in budget two years ago to a standard two hundred and thirty per week. When will the new increase be implemented?

    A: Maternity benefit will increase by €5 a week from March 2017.

  • 10:20

    Q: Do you only get a rebate of the amount of tax you paid in the past four years?

    A: You only get a rebate of 5% of the value of the house up to a maximum of €20,000. presuming you have paid more than that in income tax and DIRT over the last four years.

  • 10:21

    Q: Will widows pension go up and when?

    A: Yes, widows pension will go up by €5 a week from March 2017.

  • 10:22

    Q: Will giving tax break to first time buyers but only if buying a new-build property mean those wanting to trade up have difficulty selling their current property?

    A:  That might be a danger but the Minister seems to be more concerned with the lack of supply of new homes. Put bluntly, there are not nearly enough properties being built to cope with the general rise in demand in a normal market. Rising house prices would seem to indicate that there is a healthy market for second-hand properties as it is although presumably first-time buyers are among those currently chasing those homes and they are less likely to be a feature of that market under the new help to buy incentive.

  • 10:24

    Q: Will there be raise in the carers allowance?

    A:  The maximum rate of carer's allowance is to rise by €5 to €210 a week. Carers will also receive 85% of the Christmas bonus this year.  

  • 10:32

    Q: I have MS and want to know if my illness benefit is increasing and also why am I not entitled to the Christmas bonus?

    A: Yes, illness benefit is to rise by €5 a week to €193. Illness benefit is not one of the qualifying payments for the Christmas bonus.

  • 10:33

    Q: What is ridiculous is giving an extra €5 a week to all on pensions and social welfare. Many don't need it at all, as in my situation where I get a public service pension and a widow's pension. But what is forgotten is that people like me pay almost half of our state pension and Christmas bonus back to the government in tax and USC as well as tax and USC on public service pension. Also people like me, though over 66,  have neither a GP nor a medical card so medical card reductions no use to us. Why are all older people  seen as the same even though there are many different groups of older people?

    A: The "blunt" nature of some of the welfare payments you mention is well known but these things tend to come down to a political trade off and so it was with this Budget.  

  • 10:34

    Q: Is there any change to the Capital Gains Tax levels? Conditions for claiming etc

    A: Capital gains tax rules were  not changed in the budget with the exception of the lower rate that will apply under entrepreneur relief where qualifying assets up to a lifetime limit of €1 million will now be subject to CGT at 10% from 20% previously.

  • 10:39

    Q: Will the help to buy scheme aid self builders also?

    A: Yes the scheme also applies to those who build their own home, provided that they take out a mortgage for 80% of the valuation approved by the mortgage provider.  

  • 10:46

    Q: Will the grant be available to people who have paid a deposit for a new build before July 2016 but haven't yet completed the sale? i.e. the transfer of deeds hasn't happened?

    A: The Help to Buy scheme only applies to applicants who have signed the contracts to purchase their home on or after 19  July 2016.  



  • 10:48

    Q: Was anything done to ease the burden of the Fair Deal scheme where farmers may currently have to dispose of 100% of the business/assets in order to pay for nursing home care?

    A: To the best of my knowledge, no changes were made to the terms of the Fair Deal scheme in the budget.

  • 10:49

    Q: Should all workers not pay the same deductions. Public servants pay an additional pension levy compared to similar paid private sector workers. This extra deduction is impacting on the ability to get a mortgage, pay childcare etc.

    Why does the government not treat all workers equally?

    A: There was no move in the Budget to address the pensions related deduction which affects public sector workers. However, under the Fempi provisions, that deduciton was eased at the start of this year and will be eased further on January 1st next. And, while it does not confer extra pension benefits, it is allowable against tax at your marginal rate. On the broader issue, the pay and conditions or public and private sector workers are not comparable and as such, it is unlikely that the Minister would feel under pressure, or even be advised, to treat them identically.

  • 10:49

    Q: I am hoping to build a new home (Self build) next year. I have worked and paid tax in Ireland for the last 3 years.

    Will the new first-time-buyers tax rebate incentive apply in my case?

    A: The new rules do apply to self-build projects as long as you are a first time buyer and the mortgage being drawn down is 80 per cent of the value of the finished property. Obviously, if you have only worked here three years, the rebate can only be claimed over the three years.

  • 10:50

    Q: When will PRD Tax be abolished?  It's a public sector tax that we've been paying since 2009! Private sector dont pay it, and we are paying it long enough.

    A: While there is no talk yet of the pensions related deduction being abolished, it was reduced at the start of 2016 and will be further reduced on January 1st next. DC

  • 10:51

    Q: Will the exit tax on life assurance savings (currently the same as DIRT at 41%) also reduce by 2% p.a. in line with DIRT?

    A: Exit tax was not mentioned in the budget where Minister Noonan said he would trim the DIRT tax rate by two percentage points a year over each of the next four years to bring it down to 33% by 2020. Exit tax was orginally set at a rate determined by DIRT so it remains to be seen if the Finance Billl announces any change in the rate.

  • 10:53

    Q: Bought our first property in March this year, will the first time buyers rebate be available to us or is it only for new purchases from July?

    A:  It applies to purchases made from July 19th, 2016, so if you signed contracts before this date, you do not qualify. DC

  • 10:56

    Q: Is the fuel allowance going up? If so, then when? Also the household monthly package? I'm on disability allowance.

    A: There has been no change to the fuel allowance of €22.50 a week, and no change to household benefits. Disability allowance will rise by €5 a week to €193.

  • 10:57

    Q: My husband and I missed out on this first time buyers interest relief prior to 2012 as we started building our home in 2013 and drew down final payment in 2015. The message on the Help to Buy Scheme states "the scheme will provide a rebate of income tax paid over the previous four tax years up to a maximum of 5% the purchase price of a new home up to a value of €400,000, to first-time buyers of new houses".  Does this mean we are entitled to the 5% relief?

    A: The new help to buy scheme only applies to eligible applicants who have signed contracts to purchase their home on or after 19 July 2016 (or in the case of self-builds, where they draw down the first installment on or after 19 July 2016).

  • 10:58

    Q: Is there an increase in carers allowance? Respite grant and child benefit?

    A: The Carer's Allowance is rising by €5 a week in line with most other welfare payments. There appears to be no increase in child benefit, presumably because of the focus on other childcare measures in this budget. I am not aware of the position regarding the respite grant.

  • 10:58

    Q: Any relief for someone building their own home?

    A: The help to buy scheme also assists those building once off houses for their own occupation. If you draw down the first tranche of your mortgage after 19 July 2016 you may also be eligible for the relief (once you meet all other qualifying conditions such as taking out a mortgage of at least 80% of the valuation of the property as approved by the mortgage provider).

  • 10:59

    Q:  Any idea what the Share Incentive Scheme for SMEs is likely to look like ? Pity we have to wait until 2018. Current Scheme does not seem to be working

    A: None at all, I'm afraid. The failure to give any detail on such a scheme beyond the fact that it will focus on SMEs, and the decision to long-finger it until Budget 2018 were a disappointment to the sector. The Minister claims this is to facilitate consultaiton with the EU Commission to ensure we comply with state aid rules. DC

  • 11:00

    Q: Regarding first time Buyers does that mean that if you saved and take out a mortgage less than 80% of the price of the the house who are not entitled to a tax break? This seems very unfair, after saving to get a smaller mortgage.  

    A: In order to qualify for the Help to Buy  scheme, applicants must take out a mortgage of at least 80% of the purchase  price.

  • 11:01

    Q: Has there been any changes in regards to dental treatment in this budget.

    A: Yes the current scheme will be expanded, and will again include an annual free scale and polish as and from October. In addition, the scheme will be extended to self-employed workers from March 2017.

  • 11:02

    Q: Can you please confirm that in the budget for 2017 that prsi 4% is still exempt on my occupational pension?  I am 61 and also have rental income to which I pay my preliminary tax 2016 including the 4% PRSI on unearned income. Is there any change on this for 2017  to occupational pension?

    A: There were no changes to PRSI rules so, as you say, occupational pensions are still exempt. Your unearned income is still liable to PRSI at the rate of 4%

  • 11:02

    Q: I know about the first time buyers scheme but is there any measure applicable to first time owners doing a self build?

    A: The Help to Buy Scheme also applies to self-build properties. To qualify you must draw down the first tranche of the mortgage on or after 19 July 2016.

  • 11:03

    Q: Any changes to PRD, which is over 2 times higher than my USC deductions?

    A: No changes on PRD beyond existing reductions implemented this year and planned for January 1st next

  • 11:04

    Q: In relation to help to buy for FTBs. What date is applicable (i.e. signing contracts or drawing dowm mortgage and finalising)? We only relocated from Australia last year - could we claim tax back for 2016 if we purchase in 2016 or should we delay purchase until January?

    A: The applicable date under the new Help to Buy Incentive is the date contrcats are signed except for self-build projects when the applicable date is the drawdown of the first tranche of the mortgage. In terms of tax years, as appliactions won't be accepted by Revenue until January, I'm assuming the 2016 tax year will be claimable.

  • 11:04

    Q: Was there any relief for landlords, regarding the treatment of LPT as a business expense?

    A: No there was no indication that local property tax can be treated as an eligible deduction against a landlord's tax liabilites.

  • 11:05

    Q: I've been renting-to-buy a new build house since 2011. I've signed a contract in July this year to buy the property and I'm currently in the process of finalising a mortgage. I'm now trying to find out if the new tax rebate in the budget is applicable to my situation. What is the definition of a 'new build' i.e. is it a property built in 2016? Or would the house I'm currently buying be categorised as a new build as it has not been purchased previously.

    A: Further details are emerging this monring on the help to buy incentive and, no doubt, more information will emerge over the coming days and weeks. It appears the home will need to be new build - as in not previosuly occupied - but this remains to be clarified.

  • 11:06

    Q: Does the disability and carers get anything extra in the budget

    A: Disability allowance is to increase by €5 a week to €193 and carer's allowance will rise by €5 to €210 a week. In addition recipients of both these benefits will receive 85 per cent of the Christmas bonus.

  • 11:07

    Q: Has retail vat remained at 9%, ie hairdressing?

    A: The Minister decided against making any changes in the VAT regime. So anything to which the 9% previously applied, like haridressing, still has that rate and other areas, like construction, that were seeking to join the 9% club, do not.

  • 11:08

    Q: Signed contracts for house purchase October was never occupied but built in 2008.

    A: Think not Noel. The signing is fine but I doubt a 2008 build is going to be seen as new build even if it has not been occupied since. Still, we'll check with Revenue and come back to you asd more details on this incentive are coming out all the time.

  • 11:08

    Q: Does the help to buy scheme apply to self build homes?

    A: Yes, the Help to Buy Scheme can apply to self builds.

  • 11:09

    Q: I get 11 Euros a week as a pension (contributory - I don't get the state pension). Can I hope for a rise?

    A: With €5 a week on the current maximum person rate of €233.30, the difference in your weekly pro rata payment of €11 will be a matter of pennies.

  • 11:10

    Q: Does the new scheme to provide first-time buyers with assistance in purchasing a home apply to new builds? And if so from what date?

    A:  Yes the new scheme only applies to new-builds. To be eligible you must sign contracts for the new property after July 19th 2016 - if you're building your own home it is open to applicants who drew down the first tranche of their mortgage on or after this date.

  • 11:10

    Q: Any extension to section 481 beyond 2020, or any other film industry related points?

    A: Section 481 was not mentioned in the Budget at all to my knowledge but there might yet be something on that in the Finance Bill which is expected out later this month.

  • 11:11

    Q: We have completed the sale on a new house recently (€410k) and we are both first time buyers. Our contract was signed before the 19 July but the sale was only closed in the last 6 weeks. We signed our deeds 3 weeks ago. Are we entitled to the first time buyers grant as the sale was completed after the date or is it based on the date of the original contract signing and not the closing of the sale?

    A: The Help to Buy scheme only applies to  applicants who have signed the contracts to purchase their home on or after 19  July 2016. BP

  • 11:11

    Q: Will the new tax relief clause for first time buyers apply to self builds. Example a person building a bungalow on their fathers land.

    A: Yes the new scheme does apply to self-builds. To qualify you must borrow at least 80 per cent of the valuation of the property and draw down the first tranche of the mortgage after July 19th 2016.  

  • 11:12

    Q: Re: Capital Acquisitions/Gift Tax- more an observation than a question -  surely this is an inequitable tax as it is based on assets accumulated over a lifetime of saving and/or investment. These assets have already been taxed by way of income tax, DIRT, capital gains tax or exit tax so CAT is a tax levied as a consequence of a prudent life style! I know there are reliefs in place but is it not a fundamentally inequitable tax?

    A: That's an argument that can be made about a lot of taxes. Inheritance tax is a generally accepted form of taxation worldwide on the transfer of assets between generations. The idea, as I understand it, is that above certain thresholds it is not good for society that a generation is enriched by the transfer of assets without paying some contribution by way of tax.

  • 11:13

    Q: Will the help to buy scheme be calculated on the house price less builders vat? I bought a home for €445,000 inc builders vat and am not sure if I will qualify.

    A: We're assuming the rebate will be based on the price inclusive of VAT because essentially that is what you are paying. However, as more details emerge on the scheme, that has yet to be confirmed.

  • 12:01

    Q:  We are a couple who returned from Australia last year and only start working in Q3 15 (i.e. no income tax paid). In the middle of buying a new build house as first time buyers. Can you redeem tax paid in 2016 if you buy in 2016? Also, does it go on the date you sign contracts or the date you draw down mortgage and finalise purchase

    A: Starting from the end of your query, the relevant date is when you sign contracts - unless you are doing self-build when the date of first mortgage tranche drawdown is the relevant one. As Revenue is not taking applications until next January, I see no reason why 2016 tax would not be taken into account.

  • 12:01

    Q: I have a query regarding the help to buy scheme announced in the budget. It states it applies to anyone who purchased a house after July 19th 2016.

    At what stage in the sales process of buying the house does this cut off come into effect?

    A: Good morning. To be eligible for the new scheme you must have signed contracts on or after July 19th. If you're building your own house eligibility depends on when you have drawn down the first tranche of your mortgage - ie if it's after July 19th you will qualify.

  • 12:02

    Q: Will the cut in DIRT from 41% to 39% also apply to exit tax on life policy investment funds which is also currently 41%?

    A: That's not clear Tom. The rate of exit tax was linked to DIRT at the outset but it was not mentioned yesterday. There will certainly be pressure to ensure that it does come down in tandem with DIRT but we will have to wait for the Finance Bill to see how that plays out.

  • 12:02

    Q:  What rate of reduction is there for public service pension?

    A: None.

  • 12:03

    Q: Are those on jobseekers benifit getting the €5 weekly increase and are they entitled to the Christmas bonus?

    A: People on Jobseekers Benefit will receive the extra €5 weekly payment. Apparently you have to be on Jobseekers for a certain period - I gather it might be 15 months - to qualify for the Christmas bonus.

  • 12:04

    Q: Date on contract to qualify for income relief for a new build?

    A: The scheme is open to applicants who have signed contracts on or after 19 July 2016.

  • 12:05

    Q: We started building our own house in August- (one off build) are we part of the 'tax rebate' for first time buyers? We've hired a contractor-not self building.

    A: I believe you would still qualify as self-build in which case it depends when you drew down the first part of your mortgage, whether you are a first-time buyer and whether the mortgage amounts to 80% of the value of the property.

  • 12:06

    Q: I earn €73,420 per year. How much reduction in USC will I get?

    A: Under the old rules, you would have paid €3,416 annually in USC. Now, you will pay €3,063 on the same annual gross salary - a saving of €353.

  • 12:07

    Q: Any increase in child benefit in the budget?

    A: There is no change to child benefit; it remains at €140 a month.

  • 12:08

    Q: I have a public service pension of €18,517 gross together with contributory old age pension of €11,892. My USC payments amount to €315 for 2016. I have an Australian Centrelink pension equivalent to €5,820. What roughly can I expect from the budget overall? I am in a de facto relationship, no mortgage, own house and my partner's pensions in total amount to the equivalent of €9,000.

    A: If your USC bill this year is €315 on your public sector pension of €18,517, the USC charge next year will be €223, a saving of €92 over the year - assuming there is no increase in your public service pension. As you know, the state old age pension is not liable to USC.  

  • 12:10

    Q: The childcare subsidy seems to neglect part-time working mothers or where the parents aren't living together. As I understand it the parents must be working full time to benefit from the subsidy. Is this the case? In a situation where one parent works part-time and one parent works full-time but live apart and have a child in childcare 3 days of the week there doesn't seem to be any benefit from the subsidy. Am I correct?

    A: Full details of the childcare subsidy have yet to be published but I gather there is no obligation for parents to be working full time, or to be living together.The amount paid is determined by net family income so if you are looking at single parent familes, then only that one income applies. Net family income covers part-time or full-time employment.

  • 12:11

    Q: The income threshold is €58,000 for free fuel scheme. Will that go up with the increase in pension?

    A: This is not yet clear. Details should be in the social welfare bill which will be published shortly.

  • 12:12

    Q: We have only returned home from working abroad last year and have been working consistently in Ireland for over one year now. We are about to start a self build and are mid-mortgage application process, no approval or draw down yet. Do we qualify for the rebate having only returned home a year ago but have been paying tax in the last four years?

    A: As long as the mortgage being taken on the self-build property amounts ot 80% of its value and you are first-time buyers, then you should be okay to claim under the incentive as long as you did not draw down before July 19th last. As you have returned only recently, you will not have as much income tax paid here to claim your rebate against but that does not disqualify you.  

  • 12:13

    Q: Will the help to buy scheme property value be taken as ex VAT? I.e. The price displayed on the property price register. I bought a new house in August and this has a huge effect on my LTV

    A: Our understanding is that the price will be VAT inclusive for the purposes of assessing rebate and eligibility for the help to buy incentive but that is not entirely clear as yet.

  • 12:14

    Q: What amount of income tax paid over the last four years qualifies you for the new build rebate?

    A: The amount of rebate available to an applicant is calculated based on their total income tax (including DIRT) paid over the previous four tax years.  No refund of USC will be available.  The maximum rebate available will be up to 5% of the purchase price of a new home valued at up to €400,000.  Where a new home is valued between €400,000 and €600,000, the maximum rebate (i.e. €20,000) will continue to be available.  No rebate will be available for new purchases costing over €600,000.  

  • 12:14

    Q: What is the position on foreign earnings - eg seafarer working abroad for non EU country?

    A: Seafarers allowance was not touched, though a similar credit was introduced for fishermen. On working abroad, the Government extended the Foreign Earnings Deduction to 202 and reduced the number of days an Irish taxpayer needs ot spend abroad to qualify to 30, from 40 previously to - in Minister Noonan's words - help smaller businesses to identify and trade in such markets.

  • 12:15

    Q: We are FTBs and have signed contract on house not ready until summer 2017. We still have to save for the balance of deposit meeting strict mortgage rules. Is there an argument that the contract for the first time buyers grant is the signing of the deed?

    A: As usual with these things, there might be an argument to be made that it should be the signing of the deed. However, the Department of Finance and the Department of the Environment (with Revenue) sets the rules and they say the relevant date is the signing of contracts, so that's what it is.  

  • 12:16

    Q: We bought house two years ago, do we still qualify for first time buyer refund?

    A: No, you're not eligible. Any property bought - or contracts signed - before July 19th this year falls outside the scheme.

  • 12:18

    Q:  I am planning to buy a new home , Do I still need to give 10% deposit or will it be covered in rebate of 5%.  I might get 90% bank loan - will this be OK or I need to get only 80%?
    For example: if the home is €300,000 first I have to gave 10% deposit & approve the loan & then I get 5% money in single go & every month? Or will it be adjusted in Deposit?

    A: The threshold is that the mortgage must be at least 80% so if you are taking out a 90% mortgage you will still be eligible.< What is not yet clear is whether you have to pay over the deposit and then get the rebate or whether the rebate will be paid to you ahead of signing contracts so that you can mee the deposit requirement. Largely, I guess, it will be down to timing. If you are buying this year, you will have to pay the deposit and get the money back as applications for the relief are only opening in January next. My understanding is that the rebate, when it comes, will be a lump sum.

  • 12:19

    Q: Male aged 79 living alone. Getting contributory old age pension. What increase will I get?

    A: If you are getting the full old age pension, you will receive €5 extra a week. If you are on a pro rata pension, then it will be less.

  • 12:20

    Q: Are people who are looking to buy property under the €400k - €600k threshold e.g €150k mortgage entitled to the 5% first time buyers rebate?

    A: First-time buyers of homes priced at more than €400,000 but less than €600,000 are eligible for the relief if they are taking out an 80% mortgage. However, it is capped at €20,000 (5% of €400,000). If the pric eof the property is over €600,000, no relief is applicable.

  • 12:20

    Q: Can you work on  after 65 private sector?

    A: Yes you can. There's nothing to stop you working beyond 65 in the private sector (or, more recently, in the public sector). As it stands, you won't even get the state pension until you're 66 and, even then, there's no obligation to step down from your job unless your terms of employment specifically set a retirement age.

  • 12:21

    Q: Any changes re tax on income from renting a house and the allowances one can claim, before tax is calculated?

    A: Yes landlords will be able to offset 80 per cent of interest paid on mortgage on rental property, up from 75 per cent previously. This is due to go back to 100 per cent over five years.

  • 12:22

    Q: Is the VAT return on improvement work done on houses max €30,000 extended for a further two years?

    A: Yes the Home Renovation Incentive has been extended until December 31st 2018.

  • 12:25
    And that's a wrap. Thanks to our Irish Times and PWC experts for all their efforts, and to you for  all your questions.  

    If you have any further questions on Budget 2017 and how it affects you, you can submit them to our Q&A column. Email any queries to