The Help To Buy Scheme Has Been Extended Into 2022 – Here’s What You Need To Know

by | Nov 16, 2021 | Mortgages | 0 comments

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused house prices to soar in Ireland, creating a stressful situation for those eagerly waiting to hop on the property ladder. And it could be further exacerbated by expert forecasts that suggest the hike in property costs is unlikely to abate until 2024.

With the price of an average property now almost €24,000 higher than in 2020, first-time buyers will need all the help they can get in order to finally gain ‘homeowner’ status.

Thankfully, for certain members of this cohort, financial assistance may come in the form of the Help to Buy scheme, which has recently been extended until the end of 2022.

What is the Help to Buy Scheme and why is it being extended?

Launched in January 2017 and originally due to expire in July 2020, the Help to Buy scheme is a government-run tax refund initiative that allows qualifying parties to claim a tax rebate of up to €30,000.

The scheme was first extended until December 2020, before a further review saw a second extension put in place, increasing the time span of the initiative by a full year, until 31st December 2021. Originally, the HTB scheme was actually €20,000 until the government introduced the enhanced relief and raised the tax rebate up to €30,000.

However, with pandemic-fuelled property price hikes creating a huge hurdle for first-time buyers to overcome, along with a decrease in construction projects during the height of the global crisis, the decision was made to maintain the scheme for a further 12 months, incentivising both buyers and developers.

After being amended as part of the 2022 Budget, the Help to Buy initiative will now remain in place until 31st December next year.

Help to Buy allows those eligible to avail of a tax refund, either through deposit interest retention tax (DIRT) or income tax, which has accumulated over the four-year period prior to application.

Those that meet the qualifying criteria and whose applications are approved will be entitled to a tax refund that is the lesser of €30,000 or 10% of the property’s value – raised up from 5% by the enhanced relief addendum. However, it is important to note that it is not possible to claim tax credits on PRSI or USC.

According to a report by the Tax Strategy Group, figures gathered up to the end of July of this year reveal that 26,744 people have received a combined total of €470 million in refunds as part of the scheme, with nearly two-thirds of applicants claiming a refund of more than €15,000 since the scheme was first activated.

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How do you qualify for the Help to Buy Scheme?

Sounds too good to be true? It might be unless you tick all the boxes required to qualify for the scheme.

Firstly, Help to Buy is only available to first-time buyers. This is also applicable in the case of a joint mortgage when each individual involved has to be a first-timer. However, your eligibility will not be affected if you have inherited or been gifted a property.

Secondly, the scheme only applies to new builds and self builds and is not an option for those purchasing a second-hand home. Furthermore, the value of the new property in question cannot exceed €500,000.

In the case of a self-build, the estimated cost of the property will be established through a valuation carried out by your mortgage lender, as opposed to valuing it based on actual building costs.

 

How much can you claim from the Help to Buy Scheme?

The amount that you can claim is the lesser of:

  • €20,000 (increased to €30,000 for enhanced relief)
  • 5% of the purchase price of a new home. For self-builds, this is 5% of the approved valuation of the property. This has been increased to 10% for those qualifying for enhanced relief
  • The amount of Income Tax and Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) you have paid for the four years before you make your application

 

The maximum payment is €20,000 per property (increased to €30,000 for enhanced relief). This cap applies regardless of how many people enter into a contract to buy a house.

Universal Social Charge (USC) or Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) are not taken into account when calculating how much you can claim.

 

During the period from 23 July 2020 to 31 December 2021, applicants will be eligible for increased relief if they:

  • sign a contract for the purchase of a new house or apartment or,
  • make the first drawdown of the mortgage in the case of a self-build property

 

The maximum HTB refund is calculated at the lesser of:

  • €30,000 (up from €20,000)
  • 10% (up from 5%) of the purchase price of a new home. For self-builds this is 10% (up from 5%) of the approved valuation of the property
  • the amount of Income Tax and Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) you have paid for the four years prior to making the application

 

Applicants that made an application under the original scheme, may satisfy the enhanced Help to Buy Scheme requirements.

Before you apply for HTB, you must submit an Income tax Return for each year you wish to apply for a payment and pay any outstanding tax due. You must have a Tax Clearance Certificate if you were registered for another tax in any part of the refund years in which you are applying for.

If you are self-assessed, you must be fully tax compliant and have tax clearance. You must have filed your Income Tax returns and paid all the tax that you owe for any of the years where you were self-employed. Use Revenue Online Service (ROS) to submit your Form 11.

Finally, to qualify for the scheme in the first instance and to avoid ‘claw back’ (the process of Revenue revoking the rebate), the property you are purchasing must serve as your primary residence for a minimum of five years.

You’re eligible – great! Now what?

If you feel you tick each of the eligibility boxes mentioned above, there’s no time like the present to start the application process. Here’s the lowdown on a couple of important points to note before you begin:

  • Before even looking at an application, it is vital to ensure that the developer of your property is a Qualifying Contractor and is registered with Revenue as such. You can check this out by viewing the list on the Revenue website.
  • It is important to secure the services of a solicitor, who is also registered with Revenue, as you will need them to verify your claim when the time comes.
  • Another key action to take before kick-starting the application process is to enlist the help of an experienced financial advisor, who can walk you through what can be a complicated process, providing insight and guidance with each step of the way.

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Simplify the process with help from the experts

In spite of its financial benefits, it can be stressful and time-consuming to navigate the ins and outs of the Help to Buy scheme. This is where a little expert help goes a long way.

As experienced mortgage advisors, Symmetry Financial offer clear, simple and concise advice on initiatives such as Help to Buy, as well as all elements involved in the mortgage process. If you think you may be eligible for Help to Buy but would like to discuss your options with a professional, don’t delay – book a consultation with Symmetry Financial today.

If you’d like a free, no-obligation consultation for your mortgage, pension or financial needs, get in touch here, call us on 01 6831673 or email us directly on info@symmetryfinancial.ie.