A little more than €300,000 has been claimed by consumers under Ireland's "Stay and Spend" tax credit initiative, despite €250 million being set aside by the government for the scheme.
The scheme, which was announced last July, was devised to allow people who go on domestic holidays, or so-called staycations, to claim tax back on hotel and restaurant bills. The scheme was launched last October with an end date in April of 2021. It applies to hotels, food and non-alcoholic beverages, and allows staycationers and diners who spend €625 to claim €125 back in income tax credit, while couples can claim €250.
Consumers are able to upload their staycation, food and beverage receipts to a phone app to claim the tax credit.
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However, less than three weeks after the scheme was launched on October 1, 2020, Ireland's hospitality sector shut down due to the implementation of level five COVID-19-related restrictions, and, while the sector reopened for several weeks in December, it has since shut down again due to the return of level five restrictions as a result of a high number of COVID-19 cases, and it is currently unknown when the sector will reopen.
According to The Irish Independent, figures obtained by Labour Party TD Ged Nash indicate that up to Monday January 18, 4,441 claims for tax relief under the scheme were included in tax returns for 2020, relating to €1.5 million of qualifying expenditure that was submitted via Revenue's receipts tracker app. This entitles users of the scheme to a total tax relief of €305,430.
Finance minister Paschal Donohoe said that, up to January 18, 43,196 receipts had been uploaded to the app recording €6.8 million of expenditure, with a potential €1.36 million of tax relief if all such expenditure is claimed and qualifies under the scheme.
The Irish Independent quotes Donohoe as saying, "As the filing deadline for the 2020 Income Tax Return is not until October 31, 2021, information on the total number of claims and cost for the 2020 year of assessment will not be available until after the filing date."
A "Poorly Designed Scheme"
Nash stated that the scheme was a "poorly designed scheme introduced in the wrong way and at the wrong time", and that the €250 million that was set aside for the scheme should instead be used to waive tax bills that have been issued to 420,000 people who availed of COVID-19 welfare schemes in 2020.
The Department of Tourism noted that Donohoe can extend the scheme beyond its April end date, while tourism minister Catherine Martin stated, "Some supports should be reviewed. And not just those in lockdown, but also the supports that will be there when hospitality reopens."
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