Visits to your GP, medicines bought in pharmacies, hospital visits and consultant fees all add up. Most of us spend quite a lot of money throughout the year on medical expenses. But did you know that in Ireland, every taxpayer can claim a refund of 20% on medical expenses that are not covered by either the State or by private health insurance? This applies to both those who are employed and the self-employed. What’s more, you can claim as far as four years back.
It’s surprising then, that so few of us claim back our medical expenses at the end of the year. Research by taxback.com has found that as little as 20% of the population are doing this. The reasons are varied, says senior tax manager with taxback.com, Barry Flanagan.
Easier than Shopping Online
“Feedback suggests that people believe the process is too complex and time-consuming,” he says. “I can understand why they might think this. Anything to do with tax and form-filling tends to make people's eyes glaze over. But in reality, it’s one of the most straightforward things you'll ever do in terms of personal admin – you could even say it’s easier than shopping online.”
What Can I Claim On?
It’s not just visits to GPs and consultants and the cost of medicines that are covered. Visits to any medically registered professional such as a therapist or acupuncturist are also included. IVF treatment also comes under the tax-back scheme, as does laser eye surgery. While food intolerances are not covered, those who have been diagnosed as coeliac can claim tax back on the food that they buy. This also applies to diabetics who need diabetic dietary products.
Tax can also be claimed on non-routine dental work. Specialised dental treatment such as orthodontics, and the cost of veneers, crowns, bridge work, surgical extraction of wisdom teeth, tip replacements, root canal treatment, periodontal treatment and inlays are all covered.
What About Cosmetic Surgery?
While you can’t ordinarily claim tax relief for cosmetic surgery or procedures like rhinoplasty, breast augmentation or Botox, you can claim relief if you have cosmetic surgery to correct a health issue.
What if I Go Abroad?
Medical procedures abroad are also covered, as long as the cost is for a genuine medical expense and the treatment is provided by a registered practitioner.
But I Have Private Medical Insurance?
Just because you have private medical insurance does not mean you can’t claim tax back. Any amount that you pay in excess of your cover can be claimed back as a tax expense, and you will receive 20% of the cost.
How Do I Claim Expenses Back?
So how do you go about claiming back your medical expenses without the help of an accountant? “You always have the option of engaging with Revenue directly,” says Barry. “You simply download the revenue app and register at ‘My Account’. You then confirm both your employment and your P60 details and inform Revenue of the amount of unreimbursed medical expenses that you have from the year before.”
Keep Your Medical Receipts
It’s important to note that you need to have medical receipts at the ready in case Revenue checks up on your claim. “You can always go back to your doctor and ask for a receipt if you no longer have it,” says Barry. “What’s more, many pharmacies now offer a free service whereby they will add up your entire expenses for you at the end of the year.” While it may seem like a small amount of money to be claiming, it’s amazing how much medical expenses add up to. Taxback.com estimate that their average medical claim for a year is €995 per person. Think about it: that’s almost €1,000 that could be weighing down your pocket!
For information on this, visit taxback.com, and for more detail on how to claim back on what your health insurance plan does cover, click here.