Changes to State Pension (Contributory) rules

The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection has announced changes to how the State Pension (Contributory) is calculated. The changes aim to ensure that all of a person’s social insurance contributions, rather than when they were paid, are taken into account when assessing their entitlement to a pension.

The new Total Contributions Approach (TCA) will include a new HomeCaring credit. This will provide credited contributions for up to 20 years of homemaking and caring duties. The changes will particularly benefit women who spent time outside the paid workplace, while raising families or in caring roles.

The TCA will come into effect on 30 March 2018. It will also be available to anyone who reached pension age after 1 September 2012, when the revised rate bands took effect.  As a result the Department will invite over 40,000 current pensioners to have their pensions recalculated under TCA. Invitations are expected to be sent out in late 2018.

Pensioners do not need to contact the Department or do anything else until they get a letter from the Department nearer the end of 2018.

The first payments will be made in early 2019, with payment backdated to 30 March 2018.


New affordable housing schemes

The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government has announced details of 3 schemes aimed at making homes more affordable for buyers and renters:

  • The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan
  • The Affordable Purchase Scheme
  • The Affordable Rental Scheme

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan will provide local authority mortgages with reduced interest rates to first-time buyers. The loans can be used for new and second-hand properties, or to build a home. Buyers can borrow up to 90% of the market value of the property. The loans will have interest rates of 2% to 2.25% and buyers can fix the rates for the term of the mortgage, so they have the same repayments for the lifetime of the loan. Your household income must be below certain limits. Buyers must be able to show that they can afford the loan repayments and have had two insufficient offers or refusals for a mortgage from two lending institutions. The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan will be available nationwide from local authorities from Thursday, 1 February 2018. For more information about the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan and income limits see

Under the Affordable Purchase Scheme local authorities will provide state-owned land at reduced or no cost to developers to facilitate the building of affordable homes. Eligible buyers can then buy these affordable homes at a discount. The State will retain an equity share in each affordable home, which can be paid off, interest free, by the purchaser at a later date. Initial sites and finance have been provided for this scheme.

The Affordable Rental Scheme aims to tackle affordability issues in the rental market, using a cost rental model. Cost rental means that the level of rent paid to a landlord provides them with a minimal profit, while still covering the cost of building the property, ongoing management and maintenance charges. This means renters have greater certainty about their rent. This scheme is currently in a pilot phase.

Know Your Rights: Home Renovation Incentive


I am planning to extend my home. How can I claim the Home Renovation Incentive?

Answer (November 2017)

The Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) scheme enables homeowners or landlords to claim tax relief on repairs, renovations or improvement work that is carried out on their main home or rental property by tax-compliant contractors and that is subject to 13.5% VAT. It is also available to local authority tenants who have written consent from the local authority to carry out the works.

HRI is paid as a tax credit at 13.5% of qualifying expenditure, which can be set against your income tax over 2 years. You must be paying income tax to avail of HRI. You must also be up to date with your Local Property Tax (LPT) obligations.

Your contractor must be registered for Value Added Tax (VAT) in Ireland and be tax compliant. They also have to register the work on the HRI online administration system. If you use several contractors, such as a builder, a plumber and an electrician, you can combine the cost of the works to make up the minimum qualifying expenditure of €5,000 including VAT at 13.5%.

Repair, renovation or improvement work subject to VAT at 13.5% all qualify for the HRI, including extensions and attic conversions; supply and fitting of kitchens, bathrooms and built-in wardrobes; fitting of windows; plumbing, tiling, rewiring and plastering. Work subject to VAT at 23% is not covered. Neither are items such as furniture, white goods or carpets.

The work must be done and paid for by 31 December 2018. In general, the credit is paid over the 2 years following the year in which the work is done and paid for.

After work starts you should log in to HRI online to check that your contractor(s) have entered details of the work – if they have not, you will not be able to claim the credit. Once the work has been completed, you can claim the HRI credit. You access the HRI online system through Revenue’s myAccount service or through the Revenue Online Service (ROS) if you are registered for ROS.

There is detailed information about HRI on


Know Your Rights: Accessing healthcare abroad


There is a long wait for a medical procedure that I need. Can I get my medical costs refunded if I have the procedure done in another European country?

Answer (December 2017)

If you are entitled to public health services that are available in Ireland, you can access these services in the European Economic Area (EEA). You will be repaid the cost if you meet the requirements.

This is provided for by the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive. The Directive covers services that are publicly funded and available in Ireland. These include acute hospital services and community-based outpatient care. Other services covered include physiotherapy, ophthalmic, psychology, disability and mental health services. Occupational therapy services and dental and orthodontic services are also covered, but with some exceptions. The Directive doesn’t cover treatments that qualify for the Treatment Abroad Scheme (in general, treatments that are not available in Ireland).

You must be referred to the health service abroad in the same way that you would be referred to public health services in Ireland. This referral may be by your GP (family doctor) or public hospital consultant, for example. They may also be able to tell you whether the service you require is covered by the Directive. You can also check with the National Contact Point (details below).

If the treatment involves an overnight stay in hospital, it will need to be authorised in advance by the Health Service Executive (HSE). For other treatments, you should check whether prior authorisation is required. You pay the costs of treatment and then apply for a refund when you return to Ireland. The amount repaid is either the amount that the treatment would cost in Ireland, or the cost of your treatment abroad, if that is less. It does not include other costs such as travel. The HSE has published refund amounts for different treatments. To get a refund of treatment costs, you and your healthcare provider abroad must complete a HSE form. You then submit it with the healthcare provider invoice and receipt. The HSE provides an invoice format that it recommends using for the invoice to make sure it includes all the required details.

To find out more, contact the National Contact Point: phone (056) 778 4546 or email

Know Your Rights: Income tax bands and rates


I’m a PAYE worker. What income tax will I pay in 2018?

Answer (December 2017)

Changes to income tax bands were announced as part of Budget 2018. The amount of tax that you have to pay depends on your personal circumstances.

Tax is charged as a percentage of your income. The percentage that you pay depends on the amount of your income.

The first part of your income, up to a certain amount, is taxed at 20%. This is known as the standard rate of tax and the amount that it applies to is known as the standard rate tax band.

The remainder of your income is taxed at the higher rate of tax, which is 40%. The amount that you can earn before you start to pay the higher rate of tax is known as your standard rate cut-off point.

For 2018 the standard rate of tax remains at 20%, but the standard rate tax bands have been increased as follows:

2018 € 2017 €
Single person 34,550 @ 20%

Balance @ 40%

33,800 @ 20%

Balance @ 40%

Married couple/civil partners, one income 43,550 @ 20%

Balance @ 40%

42,800 @ 20%

Balance @ 40%

Married couple/civil partners, two incomes Up to 69,100 @ 20%

Balance @ 40%

Up to 67,600 @ 20%

Balance @ 40%

One-parent family 38,550 @ 20%

Balance @ 40%

37,800 @ 20%

Balance @ 40%

There is a range of income tax reliefs available, which can reduce the amount of tax that you have to pay.