Written answers

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Department of Finance

Help-To-Buy Scheme

Photo of Jackie CahillJackie Cahill (Tipperary, Fianna Fail)
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123. To ask the Minister for Finance if existing help-to-buy approvals which have not been drawn down will be eligible for the expanded figure announced in the July stimulus package; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19463/20]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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The Help to Buy incentive (HTB) is a scheme to assist first-time purchasers with a deposit they need to buy or build a new house or apartment.  The incentive gives a refund on Income Tax and Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) paid in the State over the previous four years, subject to limits outlined in the legislation.

Section 477C of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 outlines the definitions and conditions that apply to HTB.  A claimant under the scheme must make an application confirming that he or she meets various conditions specified in the section, including that he or she is a first-time purchaser and that he or she has completed a tax return form and is tax compliant for each of the tax years for which a claim is being made.  Also, the new property must be occupied as the sole or main residence of a first time purchaser.  The legislation is very specific as to the definition of a qualifying residence.  It must be a new building which was not, at any time, used or suitable for use as a dwelling.

The definition of “first-time purchaser” for the purposes of the scheme is an individual who, at the time of making a claim under the scheme, has not, either individually or jointly with any other person, previously purchased or previously built, directly or indirectly, on his or her own behalf a dwelling. 

HTB operates by way of a payment being made at deposit stage (following the signing of a contract to purchase) or, in the case of a self-build, following the drawdown of the first tranche of the relevant mortgage. Therefore, the intention of the scheme is that the house would not have been completed when applying for HTB.

The enhanced level of support announced last week will apply to applicants who, on or after 23 July 2020 (and up to 31 December 2020) sign a contract for the purchase of a new house or who make the first draw down of the mortgage in the case of a self-build.

HTB has been widely publicised since its announcement in 2016, particularly by financial institutions providing mortgages. However, Revenue advise me that, if there are unique circumstances which has prevented an individual from claiming the HTB scheme, the taxpayer should contact Revenue with the relevant circumstances and each case will be considered on a case by case basis. Notwithstanding this, Revenue does not have discretion to vary the conditions for qualification for relief under the HTB scheme. 

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