We all have medical expenses of some nature – maybe the odd trip to the doctor or a prescription to treat a niggling flu – but I’m amazed by the amount of people who don’t bother to check if they can claim tax relief on them. I don’t know about you, but if there’s any possibility of claiming some of my taxes back, I’m up for it!
In short, you may claim tax relief of 20% on the cost of certain medical expenses paid by you. Now, what this entails varies, but I’ve noticed there appears to be all sorts of myths and rumours around about what can and can’t be claimed for medical expenses. So, I thought it was time that these myths were busted and the truth told, so I’ve selected the comments I’ve heard most frequently from my clients.
Expenses must relate only to myself.
You are allowed to claim for any qualifying medical expense, so long as you have paid for the expenses – it doesn’t matter who the treatment relates to. This is a common misconception, particularly for parents claiming their children’s health expenses or even unmarried couples.
I can only claim for expenses incurred in Ireland
This is a real biggie! You are entitled to claim for medical expenses incurred overseas, so long as they are listed as a Qualifying Health Expense and your treatment is provided by a registered practitioner in the country the treatment was received.
This is a handy one for families on holidays and perhaps one of the kids gets sick or injured – as well as those people who head abroad for things like major dental or even IVF treatment. These types of expenses can add up to any tax relief you can get back is definitely worth the effort.
I can’t claim for the specialist foods for my medical condition.
This is a slightly tricky one – in some cases, yes you can claim, but in others you can’t. Basically, if you are a diagnosed coeliac or diabetic, the cost of gluten free foods or “diabetic” products required as part of your diet, are an eligible health expense. In order to claim these expenses, you will need a letter from your doctor confirming the diagnosis and that the products that are purchased is on their advice.
However, people with food intolerances such as dairy, wheat and gluten are not eligible to apply for tax relief for specialty products.
So long as you have a receipt, you can claim.
There’s not an open rule that if it’s medical-related and you have a receipt, then you can claim! There is a whole list of ‘Qualifying Health Expenses’ that are eligible such as doctors’ and consultants’ fees, diagnostic procedures, prescription medicines, hospital treatment, specialised dental treatment, prescribed physiotherapy and many more.
Despite there being a long list of inclusions, there are notable absences such as routine dental and cosmetic procedures.
Furthermore, in some cases, even expenses listed as qualifying are required to have been prescribed by your doctor. This affects treatments such as physiotherapy and orthoptics.
I can’t claim for specialist medical equipment.
Incorrect! There is a provision to claim tax relief on the supply, maintenance or repair of any medical, surgical, dental or nursing appliance used on the advice of a practitioner. This means expenses relating to things like wheelchairs, hearing aids, orthopaedic beds or chairs and glucometer machines are all eligible. Furthermore, where medical evidence indicates a necessity, items like exercise bikes, wigs and even a computer can be claimed.
Likewise, there are plenty of examples where relief is not allowable – where you might think it should be. These include specially adapted cars for disabled people and construction work to alter the private residence of an incapacitated person.
In these instances, it’s always best to get expert advice before claiming, as it can be a minefield for what is considered an allowable expense – so you don’t want to end up claiming something that isn’t allowed.
You can claim as far back as you like.
You can actually claim back for the last 4 years – as with normal PAYE tax refunds. So in 2015, you can claim expenses from 2011-2014.
You have to claim in the year the expense was incurred.
If you paid for medical expenses in the following year, you can choose which year to claim the tax relief in. This is particularly beneficial if you paid more tax in one year, so you can really maximise the tax relief received.
My IVF is an elective treatment, so I can’t claim tax relief.
Absolutely incorrect! Where the treatment is carried out by a qualifying practitioner, you can claim tax relief on your IVF treatment expenses. Now in these instances, a qualifying practitioner refers to a practitioner registered in Ireland.
What often confuses people with claiming IVF expenses is when this treatment is carried out overseas. This is a common enough practice for IVF patients and these expenses are still eligible, so long as the practitioner is entitled under the laws of the country in which the care is provided, to practice medicine there. Put simply, so long as your doctor is a registered practitioner in the country you are treated, then your IVF treatment is eligible for tax relief in Ireland.
Speak to an expert
Like with most things tax related, its always good to get it looked at by the professionals. Here at Red Oak, we’ll take care of your medical expenses claim and do a full four year review of your taxes in the process. Apply here to speak to one of our Tax Agents.
Having moved to Ireland from Poland as a 16 year old, I’m as much an Irishman as I am Polish! As a Tax Agent, I like to fix the tax problems of my clients. Dealing with Revenue can be such a hassle for people, but it’s what I’m trained to do so I can maximise the refunds for my clients!