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Know Your Rights: Free Legal Advice
 
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Know Your Rights Question.I’m going to take some time off work to look after my children. What effect will this have on my contributions for the State pension? Are advertisements saying that landlords won’t accept tenants getting Rent Supplement allowed?. This and information on water grants, cycling fines, farm assist etc are all outlined by clicking here

Know Your Rights B: The Homemaker’s Scheme

May 2016

Question

I’m going to take some time off work to look after my children. What effect will this have on my contributions for the State pension?

Answer

Under the Homemaker’s Scheme, time you spend out of the workforce caring for children or a person with a disability can be disregarded when calculating your entitlement for a State Pension (Contributory). The scheme came into effect on 6 April 1994 (time spent homemaking before this is not taken into account). 

You do not get credits for years spent out of the workforce. Instead these years will be disregarded when working out your entitlement to a State Pension (Contributory). However, you may get credits for the remainder of the year you leave the workforce, and for part of the year when you rejoin the workforce.

A homemaker, for the purposes of the Homemaker’s Scheme is a man or woman who provides full-time care for a child under the age of 12 or an ill or disabled person aged 12 or over. A homemaking year is a year in which you are out of the workforce for the full tax year. Up to a maximum of 20 homemaking years can be disregarded when working out your entitlement to a State Pension (Contributory). 

To qualify for a State Pension (Contributory) you must have a minimum yearly average number of contributions from when you entered social insurance to pension age. The Homemaker’s scheme provides that full contribution years spent caring in the home are disregarded in calculating a person's yearly average number of contributions. Take, for example, a woman who started work in 1985, took 10 years out of work to care for children from 1995 to 2005 and then returned to work for another 20 years before retiring in 2025 and applying for a State Pension. Her yearly average would be calculated over 30 years instead of 40 years when the 10 years spent in the home are disregarded. 

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Roscrea Citizens Information Centre, Rosemary St, Roscrea which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6480 Monday 10 am to 1pm Thursday 10 am-1pm, and 2pm to 4pm Friday 10am to 1 pm and 2pm to 4 pm. Information is also available online at www.citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000  

 

Can you explain how the census works? Do I have to complete the form?

 

Answer

 

The Census of Population counts every person who is in the State on a particular date. It establishes the size of the population in the State and it also helps to provide an accurate measure of population changes due to inward and outward migration.

 

The census takes place every 5 years and is carried out by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). The next census will be on Sunday 24 April 2016.

 

The census counts everyone who is present in the State on the designated night, including visitors who usually live abroad. Under the Statistics Act 1993, you are legally obliged to complete and return the census form. If you refuse to provide this information, or if you deliberately provide false information, you may be fined.

 

Teams of enumerators deliver census forms to every household and to every other type of place where people may be present on census night (such as hotels, guesthouses, hospitals, ships). Everyone who is actually on the premises on census night, including visitors, should be counted. Census enumerators call to all households to deliver forms before census night and then call back to collect completed forms. Enumerators all carry ID and can help if you have difficulty completing the form.

 

The form includes a wide range of questions, including age, marital status, sex, place of birth, level of education, type of employment and housing characteristics. All the information that you give on the census form is confidential. The CSO only uses it for statistical purposes and no other organisation (including government departments or agencies) can access information from the census that would identify you in any way.

 

When you have completed the form on census night, sign the declaration at the end of it and keep it safe until your enumerator calls back to collect it.

 

Question

 

We plan to extend our home and hope to claim the Home Renovation Incentive. How does this scheme work?

 

Answer

 

The Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) scheme enables homeowners to claim tax relief on repairs, renovations or improvement work carried out on their homes. Landlords can also avail of the scheme. It is paid in the form of a tax credit at 13.5% of qualifying expenditure, which can be set against your income tax over 2 years. You must be paying income tax to avail of the HRI. You must also be up to date with your Local Property Tax (LPT) obligations.

 

Your contractor must be registered for Value Added Tax (VAT) in Ireland and be tax compliant. They also have to register the work on the HRI online administration system. If you use several contractors, such as a builder, a plumber and an electrician, you can combine the cost of the works to make up the minimum qualifying expenditure of €5,000 excluding VAT at 13.5%.

 

Repair, renovation or improvement work subject to VAT at 13.5% all qualify for the HRI, including extensions and attic conversions; supply and fitting of kitchens, bathrooms and built-in wardrobes; fitting of windows; plumbing, tiling, rewiring and plastering. Work subject to VAT at 23% is not covered. Neither are items such as furniture, white goods or carpets.

 

The work must be carried out and paid for by 31 December 2016. In general, the tax credit is paid over the 2 years following the year in which the work is carried out and paid for. If you are a PAYE taxpayer, the credit will be included in your annual Tax Credit Certificates. If you are a self-assessment taxpayer, it will be incorporated into your tax assessment.

 

After work starts you should log in to HRI online to check that your contractor(s) have entered details of the work. You will not be able to claim the HRI tax credit if the details have not been entered onto  HRI online. Once the work has been completed you can claim the HRI credit. You access the HRI online system through Revenue’s myAccount service or through the Revenue Online Service (ROS) if you are registered for ROS.

 

There is detailed information for homeowners and landlords on revenue.ie.

 

Question

 

I know that medical treatments available in Ireland can be accessed in other EU countries instead. What if I need a treatment that isn’t available in Ireland?

 

Answer

 

If you are entitled to public health services that are available in Ireland, it is possible to access these services in the European Economic Area (EEA) and be repaid the cost under the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive.

 

If you are a public healthcare patient and need treatment that is not available to you in Ireland, you may be able to use the Treatment Abroad Scheme to get the treatment in another country in the EEA or Switzerland. The Scheme may provide help with travel costs for the patient and a travelling companion, where appropriate.

 

You must be referred for treatment abroad by an Irish-based consultant who is treating you as a public patient. You cannot refer yourself or be referred by a GP.

 

You, and your referring consultant, must complete an application form and include a copy of your referral letter. Your application must be approved by the Health Service Executive (HSE) before you travel or start treatment abroad. You will get a decision on your application by letter, usually within 15 to 20 working days. If your application is not approved, you will be told the reasons and given information on how to appeal the decision.

 

If your application is approved, the HSE will issue a form called S2 (also known as E112). This authorises treatment abroad so that you do not have to make any payment to the healthcare provider. The treatment you have abroad must be in public healthcare under a registered medical practitioner in a recognised hospital or other institution that accepts the form S2. If you don’t have the S2 at your appointment, you may be charged and not be refunded. Any treatments or consultations that are not pre-approved will not be covered.

 

For an application form, contact the Treatment Abroad Scheme Office. You can get the contact details for your area by calling the HSE Infoline on Callsave 1850 24 1850 or online at hse.ie/treatmentabroad.

 

Question

I want to vote in the upcoming general election. How do I add my name to the register?

Answer

The Register of Electors is published every year on 1 February. The 2016/17 register comes into effect on 15 February 2016. You can check if you are on the Register at checktheregister.ie or at your local authority, Garda station, post office or public library. The closing date for submitting changes to the Register was 25 November 2015. 

Changes to the published Register after the closing date are taken into account in a supplement to the Register of Electors. If you are not listed on the register, you can apply be added to the supplement using form RFA2. The form is available online at checktheregister.ie or from your local authority, post office or public library.

You can make this application at any time, but in order to be included in the supplement used at an election, your application must be received by your local authority at least 15 days before polling day (Sundays, public holidays and Good Friday are not counted as days for this purpose). In general you must sign the form in the presence of a member of the Garda Síochána from your local garda station unless you are unable to for certified medical reasons

If you are on the register but your address has changed, you can have your new address added to the supplement by completing form RFA3. This will also remove you from the register for your previous address.

 

February 2016

Question

I need to get a medical procedure carried out. I have just found out that I can expect to wait over a year for the procedure in Ireland. Can I get my medical costs refunded if I travel to another country in Europe to have this procedure? 

Answer

If you are entitled to public health services that are available in Ireland, you can access these services in the European Economic Area (EEA). You will be repaid the cost if you meet the requirements. This is provided for by the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive.  

The Directive covers services that are publicly funded and available in Ireland. These include acute hospital services and community-based out-patient care. Other services covered include physiotherapy, ophthalmic, psychology, disability and mental health services. Occupational therapy services and dental and orthodontic services are also covered, but with some exceptions. Treatments that qualify for the Treatment Abroad Scheme (in general, treatments not available in Ireland) are not covered under the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive.

You must be referred to the health service that you require abroad in the same way that you would be referred to public health services in Ireland. This referral may be by your GP (family doctor) or public hospital consultant for example. They may also be able to tell you whether the service you require is covered by the Directive. You can also check with the National Contact Point (details below).

If the treatment involves an overnight stay in hospital, then it will need to be authorised in advance by the Health Service Executive (HSE). For other treatments, you should check whether prior authorisation is required. You pay the costs of treatment and then apply for a refund when you return to Ireland. The amount repaid is the amount that the treatment would cost in Ireland or the cost of your treatment abroad if that is less. It does not include other costs such as travel. The HSE has published refund amounts for different treatments. To get a refund of treatment costs, you and your healthcare provider abroad must complete a HSE form. You then submit it with the healthcare provider invoice and receipt.

For information about prior authorisation, applying for a refund, or for any other queries contact: National Contact Point, Cross-Border Healthcare Directive Department, St Canice's Hospital, Dublin Road, Kilkenny, Telephone (056) 778 4546, Email: crossborderdirective@hse.ie. 

 

 

February 2016
Question
My house was flooded and badly damaged. What help can I get?
Answer
The Department of Social Protection’s Humanitarian Assistance Scheme provides means-tested emergency financial help immediately following flooding. The Government has not set a limit on the amount that can be paid to an individual household under this scheme. The amount paid depends on how severe the damage is and your ability to meet these costs. The scheme covers:
1. Emergency income support payments.
2. Damage to your home and its essential contents, such as carpets, flooring, furniture and household appliances and bedding.
3. Structural damage may also be considered.
The Department of Social Protection also provides exceptional and urgent needs payments which can help in the aftermath of a flood.
If your home has been flooded and you are getting help from the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme, you can apply to have your 2016 Local Property Tax (LPT) payment deferred (even if you do not qualify for deferral under the normal criteria). Contact the LPT Helpline on 1890 200 255 to make the relevant arrangements.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) has information on cleaning a home after flooding and dealing with the psychological effects of flooding. The Office of Public Works (OPW) has a website, flooding.ie, that gives information about what to do before, during and after a flood.
There are two publications giving details of the help available:
 Leaflet – Schemes Available For People Affected by Recent Flooding
 Booklet – Government Assistance For People Affected by Flooding
You can get the leaflets on the welfare.ie website or from your local Citizens Information Centre.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Roscrea Citizens Information Centre, Rosemary St, Roscrea which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6480 Monday 10 am to 1pm Thursday 10 am-1pm, and 2pm to 4pm Friday 10am to 1 pm and 2pm to 4 pm. Information is also available online at www.citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.

 

 

 

 

 

Know Your Rights A: Free legal advice
October 2015

Question

I need legal advice on separating from my husband but I can’t afford to go to a solicitor.

Where can I get help?


Answer

Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) is an organisation that promotes equal access to justice for all. You can access basic, confidential and free legal advice across all areas of law in a network of centres around Ireland. These are usually located in the local Citizens Information Centre. Some are drop-in clinics, where you will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis. Other clinics are by appointment only, and you will have to call in advance to book a place.
When you visit a FLAC clinic you should bring along any relevant documentation or correspondence. You will meet a volunteer lawyer – either a solicitor or a barrister. You can ask a question on any area of law. However if you have already consulted a solicitor about the same matter, the volunteer adviser cannot offer guidance on that issue.
Your volunteer adviser will help you to establish whether there is a legal solution to your problem, explain what options are open to you and direct you to further assistance where appropriate.
Volunteer advisers cannot provide legal representation, which means they cannot take a case for you or go to court on your behalf. They also cannot refer you to a lawyer in private practice, so you should contact the Law Society for a list of solicitors in your area or for a particular area of law.
If you have a low income, you may be eligible for legal assistance from the State on a civil matter. The Legal Aid Board is responsible for the provision of civil legal aid and advice. Your FLAC adviser can help to establish this and you may then go to your local law centre to apply for civil legal aid. You will then have to undergo a means test and a merits test.
For criminal matters, there is a separate State criminal legal aid scheme, operated through the courts and administered by the Legal Aid Board.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Question

How is my income from different sources assessed for Farm Assist? I work on the farm but
I also do a bit of contracting and my wife works part-time.

Answer

The means test for Farm Assist takes into account virtually every form of income you may have but assesses it in different ways.
Your income from farming and any other self-employment (like contracting) is assessed as the gross income that you or your spouse may be expected to receive minus any expenses you incur to earn that income. When you apply for Farm Assist, a social welfare inspector will call to see you and ask to see various documents. The inspector will then assess the costs incurred in connection with the running of the farm. You are entitled to receive a copy of this farm income calculation. All of your means from self-employment are assessed (there are no disregards for dependent children).
Payments under the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS), the Agri-Environmental Options Scheme (AEOS) or the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) scheme are assessed separately from other farm income. The first €2,540 per year is deducted from the total amount of all these payments and 50% of the remainder is disregarded. Expenses incurred in complying with REPS/AEOS/SAC measures are then deducted and the balance is assessed as means.
Income from an occupational pension or leasing of land or milk quotas is assessed in full. Capital (including any property that you do not live in) is assessed using the formula applied to all means-tested social welfare payments.
If you have an off-farm job, €20 per day (up to a maximum of €60) is deducted from your assessable weekly earnings and then 60% of the remainder is assessed as weekly means. Your spouse’s income from employment is assessed in the same way. If you have seasonal work, you are assessed on your earnings only during the period you are actually working.
You can get detailed information on how farm income is assessed from the Department of Social Protection’s website.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights A: Consumer rights in the EU

September 2015

Question

I’ve just come back from a holiday in Portugal. I booked a tour to see the sights but the coach didn’t turn up on the day. The tour company said we could rearrange another time but this didn’t suit me. Can I get my money back?

Answer

When you buy goods or services in another EU member state you have certain rights under consumer legislation, including the right to make a complaint. The consumer laws of Portugal apply to any goods or services you bought while you were visiting there. However language differences and distance can make it more difficult to complain effectively.
If you are not happy with something you paid for, you should deal with the issue as soon as possible. In some cases, there are time limits for taking certain procedures. Even if there are no time limits set down, it is easier for you and the service provider to deal with issues as soon as possible.
Keep all relevant documents. It is your responsibility to prove that you paid for the goods or service that you are complaining about. A receipt is just one way to prove that you paid for an item or service. If you paid for the item by credit card, you can use your credit card statement as proof of purchase.
You should contact the service provider or retailer directly to make your complaint – in this case, the tour company. If you have exhausted the company’s complaints mechanism or you are not happy with their response you should seek advice from your European Consumer Centre (ECC).
The ECC in Ireland is there to support you if you have a problem with a supplier of goods or services in another EU member state. It is part of an EU-wide network of consumer centres and it can help you to solve consumer disputes that arise in other member states of the EU. It does this by trying to solve the dispute directly with the supplier and, if this fails, by referring your case to an alternative dispute resolution body.

Question

How is my income from different sources assessed for Farm Assist? I work on the farm but I also do a bit of contracting and my wife works part-time.

Answer

The means test for Farm Assist takes into account virtually every form of income you may have but assesses it in different ways.
Your income from farming and any other self-employment (like contracting) is assessed as the gross income that you or your spouse may be expected to receive minus any expenses you incur to earn that income. When you apply for Farm Assist, a social welfare inspector will call to see you and ask to see various documents. The inspector will then assess the costs incurred in connection with the running of the farm. You are entitled to receive a copy of this farm income calculation. All of your means from self-employment are assessed (there are no disregards for dependent children).
Payments under the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS), the Agri-Environmental Options Scheme (AEOS) or the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) scheme are assessed separately from other farm income. The first €2,540 per year is deducted from the total amount of all these payments and 50% of the remainder is disregarded. Expenses incurred in complying with REPS/AEOS/SAC measures are then deducted and the balance is assessed as means.
Income from an occupational pension or leasing of land or milk quotas is assessed in full. Capital (including any property that you do not live in) is assessed using the formula applied to all means-tested social welfare payments.
If you have an off-farm job, €20 per day (up to a maximum of €60) is deducted from your assessable weekly earnings and then 60% of the remainder is assessed as weekly means. Your spouse’s income from employment is assessed in the same way. If you have seasonal work, you are assessed on your earnings only during the period you are actually working.
You can get detailed information on how farm income is assessed from the Department of Social Protection’s website.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights A: Consumer rights in the EU

September 2015

Question


I’ve just come back from a holiday in Portugal. I booked a tour to see the sights but the coach didn’t turn up on the day. The tour company said we could rearrange another time but this didn’t suit me. Can I get my money back?
Answer
When you buy goods or services in another EU member state you have certain rights under consumer legislation, including the right to make a complaint. The consumer laws of Portugal apply to any goods or services you bought while you were visiting there. However language differences and distance can make it more difficult to complain effectively.
If you are not happy with something you paid for, you should deal with the issue as soon as possible. In some cases, there are time limits for taking certain procedures. Even if there are no time limits set down, it is easier for you and the service provider to deal with issues as soon as possible.
Keep all relevant documents. It is your responsibility to prove that you paid for the goods or service that you are complaining about. A receipt is just one way to prove that you paid for an item or service. If you paid for the item by credit card, you can use your credit card statement as proof of purchase.
You should contact the service provider or retailer directly to make your complaint – in this case, the tour company. If you have exhausted the company’s complaints mechanism or you are not happy with their response you should seek advice from your European Consumer Centre (ECC).
The ECC in Ireland is there to support you if you have a problem with a supplier of goods or services in another EU member state. It is part of an EU-wide network of consumer centres and it can help you to solve consumer disputes that arise in other member states of the EU. It does this by trying to solve the dispute directly with the supplier and, if this fails, by referring your case to an alternative dispute resolution body.


Know Your Rights B: Cycling offences
September 2015
Question

I’m a regular cyclist. What are the new cycling offences and what are the fines?

Answer


Like other road users, cyclists must obey the existing rules that apply to traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, zebra crossings and cycle traffic lights. You must stop at stop signs and give way at yield signs. There are also rules about the equipment a bicycle must have. These rules are set out in various laws and regulations.
There are no new cycling offences but, since 31 July 2015, certain cycling offences have been declared to be fixed charge offences. The fixed charge system allows you to pay a fixed charge or fine instead of going to court to answer the offence.
The cycling offences to which a fixed charge applies are:
* No front or rear light during lighting-up hours
* Riding a bicycle without reasonable consideration
* Failing to stop for a school warden sign
* Failing to stop at traffic lights when the red lamp is lit
* Failing to stop at cycle traffic lights when the red lamp is lit
* Failing to stop at a stop line, barrier or half barrier at a railway level crossing, swing bridge or lifting bridge, when the red lamps are flashing
* Cycling in a pedestrianised street or area
If you are stopped by a Garda who suspects you have committed a cycling offence you must give your name, address and date of birth when requested.
The fixed charge for a cycling offence is currently €40. If you receive a fixed charge notice, you have 28 days from the date of the issue of the fixed charge notice to pay the fine. If it is not paid within 28 days, the charge is increased by 50%. If it is still unpaid after a further 28 days then court proceedings are initiated. If you pay the fixed charge within the legal time limits and court proceedings are not commenced, you will not have a criminal record in respect of the offence.


Question
I registered with Irish Water earlier this year. How do I apply for the Water Conservation Grant?

Answer


Every household that registered its principal private dwelling (main home) with Irish Water by 30 June 2015 is eligible for the Water Conservation Grant in 2015. The payment is €100 and will issue from September 2015.
Households that registered after 30 June 2015, or have yet to register, are not eligible for the grant in 2015.
By the end of September 2015, all eligible households will get a letter from the Department of Social Protection explaining how to apply for the Water Conservation Grant. You cannot apply for it until you have received this letter. When you get your letter, you apply online on watergrant.ie. You must apply before 8 October 2015.
You will need the following information to apply for your Water Conservation Grant:
* TIN (Transaction Identification Number) – you will find this number on the letter you received from the Department.
* WPRN (Water Point Reference Number) – a number specific to your house, which you will also find on the letter from the Department.
* Irish Water account or registration number – you got this when you registered with Irish Water. If you have your own water supply and waste water services, you will have a registration number instead of an account number. Contact Irish Water directly if you cannot find these numbers. * Your PPS number.
* Details of the bank or other account into which you want your grant to be paid (BIC, IBAN and account name) – you will find these on recent bank statements.
If you do not have internet access or a bank account, you can telephone the Water Conservation Grant Support Team at 1890 100 043 (9am–5pm, Monday to Friday) and they will make arrangements for you.


Answer

Like other road users, cyclists must obey the existing rules that apply to traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, zebra crossings and cycle traffic lights. You must stop at stop signs and give way at yield signs. There are also rules about the equipment a bicycle must have. These rules are set out in various laws and regulations.
There are no new cycling offences but, since 31 July 2015, certain cycling offences have been declared to be fixed charge offences. The fixed charge system allows you to pay a fixed charge or fine instead of going to court to answer the offence.
The cycling offences to which a fixed charge applies are:
* No front or rear light during lighting-up hours
* Riding a bicycle without reasonable consideration
* Failing to stop for a school warden sign
* Failing to stop at traffic lights when the red lamp is lit
* Failing to stop at cycle traffic lights when the red lamp is lit
* Failing to stop at a stop line, barrier or half barrier at a railway level crossing, swing bridge or lifting bridge, when the red lamps are flashing
* Cycling in a pedestrianised street or area
If you are stopped by a Garda who suspects you have committed a cycling offence you must give your name, address and date of birth when requested.
The fixed charge for a cycling offence is currently €40. If you receive a fixed charge notice, you have 28 days from the date of the issue of the fixed charge notice to pay the fine. If it is not paid within 28 days, the charge is increased by 50%. If it is still unpaid after a further 28 days then court proceedings are initiated. If you pay the fixed charge within the legal time limits and court proceedings are not commenced, you will not have a criminal record in respect of the offence.


Question

I registered with Irish Water earlier this year. How do I apply for the Water Conservation Grant?

Answer


Every household that registered its principal private dwelling (main home) with Irish Water by 30 June 2015 is eligible for the Water Conservation Grant in 2015. The payment is €100 and will issue from September 2015.
Households that registered after 30 June 2015, or have yet to register, are not eligible for the grant in 2015.
By the end of September 2015, all eligible households will get a letter from the Department of Social Protection explaining how to apply for the Water Conservation Grant. You cannot apply for it until you have received this letter. When you get your letter, you apply online on watergrant.ie. You must apply before 8 October 2015.
You will need the following information to apply for your Water Conservation Grant:
* TIN (Transaction Identification Number) – you will find this number on the letter you received from the Department.
* WPRN (Water Point Reference Number) – a number specific to your house, which you will also find on the letter from the Department.
* Irish Water account or registration number – you got this when you registered with Irish Water. If you have your own water supply and waste water services, you will have a registration number instead of an account number. Contact Irish Water directly if you cannot find these numbers. * Your PPS number.
* Details of the bank or other account into which you want your grant to be paid (BIC, IBAN and account name) – you will find these on recent bank statements.
If you do not have internet access or a bank account, you can telephone the Water Conservation Grant Support Team at 1890 100 043 (9am–5pm, Monday to Friday) and they will make arrangements for you.

 

Know Your Rights D: European Health Insurance Card

Question

My daughter and I are planning a holiday in Germany and Switzerland this summer and I’m wondering what happens if one of us becomes ill. Am I liable to pay for medical costs if I don’t take out insurance?

Answer

You and your daughter each need an individual European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This card allows you to access public healthcare services if you become ill or get injured when visiting certain European countries. It doesn’t cover private treatment or the cost of repatriation to Ireland, if one of you becomes very ill.

The countries covered by the card are the 28 member states of the EU, the three other members of the EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) and Switzerland. The card is not required for a visit to the UK if you can show that you are ordinarily resident in Ireland. In practice, this means showing a driving licence, passport or similar document. There is no charge for the card. Any website attempting to charge you for your EHIC is not connected to the HSE or any State services.

You can apply online at ehic.ie if you already have a medical card, GP visit card or Drugs Payment Scheme card. Otherwise, you can download an application form from ehic.ie or get it from your Local Health Office. You need to provide your name, address, date of birth and Personal Public Service Number (PPSN). If your EHIC card has expired you can renew it online at ehic.ie. If a family member has changed name or address, they will need to contact their Local Health Office.

You should apply for the card a month before travelling, if possible. If you have concerns about getting a new or renewed card in time, you can get a Temporary Replacement Certificate either online or from your Local Health Office. You may also wish to consider taking out private travel insurance for expenses that are not covered by the European Health Insurance Card (such as the costs of repatriation or the expenses of relatives who travel to you if you fall ill abroad).

If you have a smartphone you can also download the free EHIC App. This helps you contact health services in the country you are visiting. The app does not replace the EHIC.

Question

I lost my job last year and I am now thinking of starting a small business. Are there any supports to help me?

Answer

Local Enterprise Offices provide supports to local businesses that are starting up or in development. You can find information about their training programmes and start your own business courses on localenterprise.ie. Also, Enterprise Officers in local development companies can offer advice and information on starting your own business.
If you have been getting a jobseeker’s payment for 12 months or more, you may be eligible for the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance. This allows you to keep a percentage of your payment for two years. If you are starting a business, you also may get extra supports, such as grants for training, market research, business plans and access to loans to buy equipment.

If you have been unemployed for at least 12 months and you set up a qualifying business, you may be eligible for Start Your Own Business Relief. It provides exemption from income tax on the profits from your business up to a maximum of €40,000 a year for a period of two years.

Often, someone starting a small business does so as a sole trader rather than setting up a partnership or a company. However, as a sole trader, if your business fails, your personal assets could be used to pay your creditors. Your main legal obligation is that you must register as a self-employed person with Revenue. As a self-employed individual you pay tax under the self-assessment system.

You may carry on your business using your own name. If you wish to use a business name you must register it. The Companies Registration Office has information about business names and different business structures on its website, cro.ie. Further information is available from your local tax office and your Local Enterprise Office.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Roscrea Citizens Information Centre, Rosemary St, Roscrea which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6480 Monday and Thursday 10 am-1pm, and Friday 10am to 1 pm and 2pm to 4 pm. Information is also available online at
www.citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.

Know Your Rights B: Complaints about health and social care professionals
August 2015

Question

I know that the regulator for health and social care professionals deals with complaints about fitness to practice but how do I find out whether this applies to a particular practitioner?

Answer


The regulator for health and social care professionals is called CORU. It sets standards that practitioners must meet and maintain and publishes a register of practitioners who meet those standards. This register is currently under development. The system of statutory registration will eventually apply to 12 professions, regardless of whether the practitioner works in the public or private sector or is self-employed. CORU also handles complaints about the fitness to practise of registered practitioners - for example, complaints of professional misconduct or poor professional performance.
Currently, the registers for five professions are in effect. You can make a complaint to CORU about a practitioner registered in one of these five areas:
* Dietitians
* Occupational therapists
* Radiographers/radiation therapists
* Social workers
* Speech and language therapists
You can check the registers at coru.ie. Note that CORU can only look into events that have occurred since 31 December 2014, when it started accepting complaints. Once all registers are open they will include chiropodists/podiatrists, clinical biochemists, medical scientists, orthoptists, physiotherapists, psychologists and social care workers.
You can get further information on the fitness to practise complaints process on coru.ie. To make a complaint about a registered practitioner, you need to download and complete the Fitness to Practise complaint form. For information about how to make a complaint about practitioners of health and social care professions that are not regulated by CORU, see the website, healthcomplaints.ie.

Question

I know that the regulator for health and social care professionals deals with complaints about fitness to practice but how do I find out whether this applies to a particular practitioner?

Answer


The regulator for health and social care professionals is called CORU. It sets standards that practitioners must meet and maintain and publishes a register of practitioners who meet those standards. This register is currently under development. The system of statutory registration will eventually apply to 12 professions, regardless of whether the practitioner works in the public or private sector or is self-employed. CORU also handles complaints about the fitness to practise of registered practitioners - for example, complaints of professional misconduct or poor professional performance.
Currently, the registers for five professions are in effect. You can make a complaint to CORU about a practitioner registered in one of these five areas:
* Dietitians
* Occupational therapists
* Radiographers/radiation therapists
* Social workers
* Speech and language therapists
You can check the registers at coru.ie. Note that CORU can only look into events that have occurred since 31 December 2014, when it started accepting complaints. Once all registers are open they will include chiropodists/podiatrists, clinical biochemists, medical scientists, orthoptists, physiotherapists, psychologists and social care workers.
You can get further information on the fitness to practise complaints process on coru.ie. To make a complaint about a registered practitioner, you need to download and complete the Fitness to Practise complaint form. For information about how to make a complaint about practitioners of health and social care professions that are not regulated by CORU, see the website, healthcomplaints.ie.

I would like to buy a jet ski. What are the rules about their use?

Answer

Recreational boats are regulated in different ways depending on their size and what they are used for. The use of safety equipment on any mechanically-propelled pleasure craft is covered by the Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) Regulations 2005. This includes motorboats, powerboats, fast powerboats (those that can travel at a speed of 17 knots) and personal watercraft, known as jet skis.

Under the Regulations, you must wear a suitable personal flotation device (lifejacket or buoyancy aid) at all times when using a personal watercraft. If you are being towed behind a personal watercraft, you must also wear a personal flotation device.

It is illegal for child under the age of 16 to operate or control a personal watercraft.

The consumption of alcohol or drugs is also restricted by the Regulations. If you are operating a personal watercraft or being towed by one, you must not consume or be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If an offence is committed under the Regulations, an on-the-spot fine of €150 may be imposed or the offence may be prosecuted in the District Court.

Wherever you intend operating the personal watercraft may be subject to bye-laws which can regulate and control your use of a personal watercraft. An offence committed under such bye-laws can also make you liable for an on-the-spot fine or prosecution.

It is recommended that before operating a personal watercraft, you should attend a suitable training course. Information on training courses is available from Irish Sailing Association (ISA), 3 Park Road, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, Tel: (01) 280 0239 and from their website, sailing.ie.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights C: Bringing a dog into Ireland
July 2015

Question

I am moving back to Ireland after living in France for some years. Am I allowed to bring my dog with me?


Answer

There are strict controls about importing pets into Ireland to ensure that diseases such as rabies are not introduced. The EU system of Passports for Pets allows cats, dogs and ferrets to travel between EU member states.

If you are moving to Ireland or coming on holiday (or any other non-commercial movement where there is no sale or change of ownership) you may bring your dog with you. Your dog must have an EU Pet Passport. These are available from private veterinary practices.

The Passport certifies that the pet is travelling from an eligible country, is identified by an implanted microchip and has been vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before travel.
Dogs coming from countries other than the UK, Finland or Malta must be treated against tapeworm between 24 and 120 hours before travel. The time and date of treatment are entered on the passport. Treatment for ticks is not compulsory but it is advisable to get it at the same time as the tapeworm treatment.

Airlines registered with the Department may choose to carry pets complying with the Pet Passport regulations. Compliant pets may travel on any ferry. The pet must travel with its owner or with a person acting on behalf of the owner (unaccompanied pets cannot travel to Ireland under the EU Pet Passport System).

The operator of the airline or ferry company is legally obliged under the Pet Passport (No 2) Regulations 2014 to notify the arrival of the animals to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine by email at least 24 hours before the journey to petmove@agriculture.gov.ie.
Further information is available from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (agriculture.gov.ie/pets/) and from the Citizens Information Centre

What is the new Eircode?

Answer

In 2015 all residential and business addresses in Ireland will be given a unique new Eircode. Residential addresses include every address where post is delivered. Individual Eircodes will be given to each house on a street, each flat in an apartment block, both units in a duplex unit and each house in a rural townland. Eircodes will also be given to commercial addresses such as office buildings, shops, bars, hospitals and public buildings and each unit in a shopping centre or business park.

An Eircode is a unique seven-character alpha numeric code. Each Eircode will consist of a three-digit Routing Key which will identify the area and a four-character Unique Identifier for each address. For example: A65 F4E2

The Routing Key is the first three digits of an Eircode. The first character will always be a letter, followed by two numbers (except for D6W). The letters are not linked to a county or city name – except for postal districts in Dublin which will have their current post codes transferred into a Routing Key format such as D03, D12, D15, D22. The same Routing Key will be shared by several towns and townlands.

The Unique Identifier is a group of four digits and comes after the Routing Key. Each Unique Identifier is different and unique to your home or premises. They are not in sequence. This is to avoid the situation where a new building is created between two existing ones, and the code sequence would be broken, requiring all Eircodes in the area to be changed.

You do not need to change your address, an Eircode is simply added to the end of your address. The use of Eircode is not mandatory, however, it is likely that organisations will ask you for your Eircode, especially those delivering goods or services to your address.
You will be sent a letter in July 2015 informing you of the Eircode for your address and how to use it. Following the launch of Eircode in early July, you can also find or check an Eircode using the Eircode Finder which will be available at eircode.ie.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Roscrea Citizens Information Centre, Rosemary St, Roscrea which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6480 Monday and Thursday 10 am-1pm, and Friday 10am to 1 pm and 2pm to 4 pm. Information is also available online at www.citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.

Question

I’ve heard that young children can now visit the doctor for free but that they have to get a GP visit card. How do I get a card for my child?

Answer

From 1 July 2015, children under the age of six are entitled to free visits to a GP (family doctor) that is taking part in the free GP care for children under six scheme. All children aged under six who live in Ireland or who intend to live in Ireland for at least one year are eligible.

To get a GP visit card for children aged under six, you must register your child. To register, you will need:

* Your Personal Public Service Number (PPSN)

* The PPSN of each child

* Your choice of participating GP

You are sent your child’s PPSN when you register their birth. If you do not have a PPSN for your child, contact Client Identity Services in the Department of Social Protection on Lo-call 1890 927 999 or email cis@welfare.ie. If your baby is under two months of age and you don’t have a PPSN yet, you can register and leave the PPSN blank and the HSE will write to you separately to get it.

You can get a list of GPs who are taking part in the scheme at gpvisitcard.ie. The list also tells you whether your chosen GP accepts online registrations. If they do, you can apply online at gpvisitcard.ie. If a GP doesn’t accept online registrations, or if you prefer to use a paper form, you can download the registration form from gpvisitcard.ie, bring it to the GP to sign, and then send it to: GP Visit Card – Under 6s, PO Box 12629, Dublin 11.

Your child will be included in this scheme until the end of the month of their sixth birthday. The expiry date is shown on the card. You will be notified approximately three months before it is due to expire.

The card covers free GP visits, including home visits and out of hours, urgent GP care. It does not cover visits to hospital emergency departments.

If you have any questions about registering for the scheme, you can phone Lo-call 1890 252 919.

Question

I am a UK citizen and I am thinking of moving to Ireland. Are there any restrictions on taking up residence?

Answer

Citizens of the United Kingdom (UK) are entitled to live in Ireland without any conditions or restrictions. Unlike the citizens of other countries, they are not subject to the Aliens Act 1935 or to any orders made under it. This means that you, as a UK citizen, do not need a visa, any form of residence permit or employment permit to live in Ireland.

In general, while living in Ireland, UK citizens are entitled to avail of public services on the same basis as Irish citizens living in Ireland. For example, UK citizens who are resident in Ireland are entitled to health services in the same way as Irish citizens who are resident. UK citizens resident in Ireland whose income is from a UK source and who do not have any income from Ireland may be entitled to a medical card regardless of their means.

Unlike other EU citizens, UK citizens may retire to Ireland without having to establish that they have sufficient resources or that they have private health insurance. UK citizens living in Ireland are eligible for social welfare payments in the same way as Irish citizens living in Ireland. However you need to meet the requirements of the habitual residence condition (in the same way as Irish citizens living in Ireland) to qualify for many means-tested social welfare payments. If you have recently moved to Ireland, you may find it more difficult to establish that your main centre of interest is in Ireland.

UK citizens living in Ireland are entitled to vote in Irish elections, with the exception of Presidential elections and referendums.

The UK government has published a short guide on gov.co.uk for UK citizens who are living in Ireland and travelling to Ireland.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre

Question

I am a UK citizen and I am thinking of moving to Ireland. Are there any restrictions on taking up residence?

Answer


Citizens of the United Kingdom (UK) are entitled to live in Ireland without any conditions or restrictions. Unlike the citizens of other countries, they are not subject to the Aliens Act 1935 or to any orders made under it. This means that you, as a UK citizen, do not need a visa, any form of residence permit or employment permit to live in Ireland.
In general, while living in Ireland, UK citizens are entitled to avail of public services on the same basis as Irish citizens living in Ireland. For example, UK citizens who are resident in Ireland are entitled to health services in the same way as Irish citizens who are resident. UK citizens resident in Ireland whose income is from a UK source and who do not have any income from Ireland may be entitled to a medical card regardless of their means.
Unlike other EU citizens, UK citizens may retire to Ireland without having to establish that they have sufficient resources or that they have private health insurance. UK citizens living in Ireland are eligible for social welfare payments in the same way as Irish citizens living in Ireland. However you need to meet the requirements of the habitual residence condition (in the same way as Irish citizens living in Ireland) to qualify for many means-tested social welfare payments. If you have recently moved to Ireland, you may find it more difficult to establish that your main centre of interest is in Ireland.
UK citizens living in Ireland are entitled to vote in Irish elections, with the exception of Presidential elections and referendums.
The UK government has published a short guide on gov.co.uk for UK citizens who are living in Ireland and travelling to Ireland.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.
Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.

Question

I am getting Jobseeker’s Allowance and my oldest child is starting school this year. Is there a payment to help with the costs of children going to school?

Answer

 The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BTSCFA) helps you meet the cost of uniforms and footwear for children going to school. Your children must be aged between 4 and 22 on or before 30 September 2015. If they are aged between 18 and 22 they must be in full-time second-level education in a recognised school or college.

To qualify you must be getting a social welfare payment or taking part in a training, employment or adult education scheme. In general, you must be getting an Increase for a Qualified Child with your payment. People getting Family Income Supplement and the new Back to Work Family Dividend can qualify for BTSCFA. Also, your total family income must be below a certain level for your family size. The Allowance is €100 for eligible children aged between 4 and 11 and €200 for those aged between 12 and 22.

The scheme is open from 1 June to 30 September 2015. The Department of Social Protection pays BTSCFA automatically to many customers. This means that they do not have to apply for the payment. If you qualify automatically, you should get a letter stating when and how your Allowance will be paid. If you do not get an automatic payment you must apply for the Allowance. If any of your children are aged 18 or over you must apply for the Allowance for them and supply evidence that they are in second-level education (even if automatic payments have issued for other children in the family).

Application forms are available from June 2015 in all local social welfare offices and Intreo centres, and on the Department’s website, welfare.ie. When a decision has been made on your application you will get a letter informing you of this and whether the Allowance has been awarded. If your application has been successful, you will also be told when and where you can collect the payment. If the Allowance is refused you can ask for a review of the decision.

Question

I’m selling my house. The asking price is a lot more than the valuation for Local Property Tax (LPT) on 1 May 2013. Will I be liable to pay the outstanding LPT if I sell it for the asking price or more?

Answer

In general, if you declared a valuation band or valuation on your 2013 Return honestly and in line with Revenue guidelines, this valuation will continue to apply until 31 October 2016. When you are selling your house you (or your solicitor) can use the LPT online system to get clearance from Revenue to prove that there are no outstanding LPT issues with your property.

This is known as General Clearance. However, if the expected or agreed sales price is greater than the valuation band or valuation declared on the 2013 Return, you may need to get Written Clearance from Revenue, as well as General Clearance. If you meet any of the following conditions, you don’t need to get Written Clearance:

* The sales price falls within the allowable valuation margin: In general, for houses that were valued up to €300,000 the sales price can fall into the next valuation band; for houses valued between €300,000 and €1 million the sale price can be up to 15% higher than the upper limit of the band declared and for houses over €1 million the sale price can be up to 15% higher than the declared chargeable value.

* You carried out work that enhanced the value of the property. You must have receipts and verification of how much was spent.

* You based the original valuation on sales of comparable properties. You must be able to show that you based the declared chargeable value on the valuation date on known and verifiable sale prices of comparable properties in the area. You can read full details of the conditions in Revenue’s guidelines on the sale of properties.

You will need to get Written Clearance from Revenue if none of the above conditions are met and your declared valuation was made in good faith and in line with Revenue guidelines. You apply for Written Clearance by completing Form LPT5 and including relevant supporting documentation. Revenue will review the basis for your declared valuation and determine whether clearance should issue.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre

Question

I’m selling my house. The asking price is a lot more than the valuation for Local Property Tax (LPT) on 1 May 2013. Will I be liable to pay the outstanding LPT if I sell it for the asking price or more?

Answer

In general, if you declared a valuation band or valuation on your 2013 Return honestly and in line with Revenue guidelines, this valuation will continue to apply until 31 October 2016. When you are selling your house you (or your solicitor) can use the LPT online system to get clearance from Revenue to prove that there are no outstanding LPT issues with your property.
This is known as General Clearance. However, if the expected or agreed sales price is greater than the valuation band or valuation declared on the 2013 Return, you may need to get Written Clearance from Revenue, as well as General Clearance. If you meet any of the following conditions, you don’t need to get Written Clearance:
* The sales price falls within the allowable valuation margin: In general, for houses that were valued up to €300,000 the sales price can fall into the next valuation band; for houses valued between €300,000 and €1 million the sale price can be up to 15% higher than the upper limit of the band declared and for houses over €1 million the sale price can be up to 15% higher than the declared chargeable value.
* You carried out work that enhanced the value of the property. You must have receipts and verification of how much was spent.
* You based the original valuation on sales of comparable properties. You must be able to show that you based the declared chargeable value on the valuation date on known and verifiable sale prices of comparable properties in the area. You can read full details of the conditions in Revenue’s guidelines on the sale of properties.
You will need to get Written Clearance from Revenue if none of the above conditions are met and your declared valuation was made in good faith and in line with Revenue guidelines. You apply for Written Clearance by completing Form LPT5 and including relevant supporting documentation. Revenue will review the basis for your declared valuation and determine whether clearance should issue.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre

Question

What is the new Back to Work Family Dividend?

Answer


The Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD) scheme aims to help families to move from social welfare into employment. It gives extra financial support to people with qualified children who stop claiming a jobseeker's payment or a one-parent family payment because they have taken up employment or self-employment.
If you qualify for the scheme you will get a weekly payment for up to 2 years. For the first year in employment you will be paid the equivalent of any Increases for Qualified Children that were being paid on your jobseeker’s or one-parent family payment (up to a maximum of 4 children). Half that amount will be paid weekly for the second year.

To qualify, you and all members of your family (including your adult dependant) must sign off all primary social welfare payments. However the Back to Work Family Dividend can be paid with Family Income Supplement (FIS) and is not taken into account in the means test for FIS. It can also be paid if your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant finds work, provided you are getting an Increase for a Qualified Adult on your payment for them. However, you must meet the conditions and the Back to Work Family Dividend will be paid to you (as the recipient of the social welfare payment).

BTWFD can be paid with some non-primary social welfare payments such as Child Benefit, Rent Supplement and Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (see citizensinformation.ie for the full list). The habitual residence condition applies to BTWFD.
Applications for the scheme have been accepted since Monday 5 January 2015.The scheme became fully operational on 5 May 2015. All eligible claims are being backdated to the date of application.

Question

I’m hoping to get a job over the summer. What do I need to know about tax when I start a job?

Answer


As an employee you are liable to pay tax on your earnings under the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system. This means that your employer deducts the income tax, PRSI and the Universal Social Charge you owe directly from your wages. To ensure that your new employer deducts the right amount of tax from your pay you will need to do two things:
• Give your employer your Personal Public Service Number (PPSN). This number is your unique personal identification number for public services. Your employer will then let your tax office know that you have started work.
• Apply for a certificate of tax credits and standard rate cut off point. You will need to complete an application form to do this. It is called Form 12A Application for a Tax Credit Certificate. If you are registered with Revenue's PAYE Anytime service you can view your tax credit certificate online.
To ensure that your employer and the tax office have time to sort everything out before your first payday, it is advisable to do this as soon as you accept a job offer (even for part-time or holiday employment).
The amount of income tax you actually pay depends on your earnings, your tax rate band and the amount of your tax credits. Tax is charged as a percentage of your income. The percentage that you pay depends on the amount of your income. The first part of your income, up to a certain amount, is taxed at 20%. This is known as the standard rate of tax and the amount that it applies to is known as the standard rate tax band. Earnings above this amount are taxed at the higher rate (40%).
Tax credits reduce the amount of tax that you are likely to pay. If your tax liability is less than your tax credits, you do not pay tax. If your tax liability is more than your tax credits, the tax due is the difference between the two.
Your employer must give you a payslip, showing a breakdown of your weekly, fortnightly or monthly salary and all the deductions made.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre
April 2015Question

I’ve been getting a One-Parent Family Payment but I will no longer qualify when my youngest child turns seven. What is the Jobseeker’s Allowance transitional arrangement and how do I qualify?

Answer

If you no longer qualify for a One-Parent Family Payment because your youngest child is over the age limit, you may be eligible for the Jobseeker’s Allowance transitional arrangement (often called JST). This is a social welfare payment that aims to support you into the workforce while also acknowledging that you are parenting alone and caring for young children aged between 7 and 13. JST allows you to work part-time and still receive a partial payment (depending on your earnings).
The rules that apply to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) and JST are very similar. The means test is similar and the maximum weekly rate of payment is the same. The main differences between JA and JST are that on JST:
• You do not have to be available for and genuinely seeking full-time work. This is to allow you to meet your caring responsibilities. There are childcare supports available if you do find work.
• You must be capable of work but you do not have to be fully unemployed for 4 out of 7 days. This means that you could work part-time for 5 days and still receive a payment (subject to the means test). For example, you could work mornings only while your children are in school. Income from work is assessed with a €20 earnings disregard per day of employment (up to a maximum of €60 per week). Any earnings above that are assessed at 60%.
• You cannot cohabit with another person while you are getting JST. You must continue to parent alone.
When you start getting JST you will be scheduled to attend an activation meeting with a case officer. The purpose of this meeting is to identify and access supports (such as education, training and employment schemes) that will prepare you for full-time employment. If you do not participate in this process, you may be paid a reduced rate of JST (a penalty rate) or you may be disqualified from your JST payment.
If you were getting a Fuel Allowance with your OFP you can keep this when you go onto JST.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.


Question

I am a medical card holder. I have just realised that I am paying more than the monthly cap of €25 for our family’s prescriptions. Why did this happen and can I get a refund?

Answer

If you have a medical card, you are charged €2.50 for each prescription item you receive. Usually your pharmacy keeps records of how much you have paid and makes sure that you do not pay more than €25 each month on prescription charges. However, you may use different pharmacies in the same month or your family members may not have the same medical card number (for example, if a different doctor is used) and you may end up paying more than the cap of €25 per family per month.

If a person or family pays more than €25 in a month, the Health Service Executive (HSE) will issue a refund at the end of the quarter, without you needing to apply. This is done on the basis of the information received from your pharmacy.

However, if you think that you have not received the refund due you can also claim directly from the HSE using claim form PC1 (which you can download from medicalcard.ie, collect at your Local Health Office or get by phoning 1890 252 919 (Monday to Friday, 9am–5pm).)

You can set your family up as a family group on medicalcard.ie and print off a family certificate to give to your pharmacist. This will show all of the members of your family so that the pharmacy will not collect charges above the monthly limit. Your family is defined as you, your spouse or partner, any children under 16 years of age and any children between 16 and 21 years of age who are in full time education.
If you do not have access to the internet you can ask your Local Health Office to help with setting up a family group. You can also call 1890 252 919 or your local pharmacist may be able to help you.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Question

My partner and I are getting married next year. We are planning to travel abroad for the ceremony. What do we need to do?

Answer

If either your or your partner are Irish citizens and you are thinking of getting married outside Ireland, the legal validity of your marriage is governed, in part, by the laws of the country in which you marry. In most, if not all cases, the legal formalities abroad are very different to those in Ireland. For example, a church marriage abroad is usually a purely religious ceremony with no legal effect. Because it is not recognised in law in the country in which it takes place, it cannot be regarded as a legal marriage in Ireland. This is the case even though a marriage in the same church or denomination in Ireland is legally binding. This is because the religious ceremony is recognised in Ireland as a civil contract.

It is very important, therefore, that you make sure to meet all the legal requirements of the country you are marrying in. You should contact the civil registration office in that country to find out what is required. You may decide to have a civil marriage in Ireland followed by a religious ceremony abroad.

Although you must meet the foreign requirements, you are still bound by Irish law as far as the capacity to marry is concerned. For example, your marriage abroad will not be recognised under Irish law if one or both of you was ordinarily resident in Ireland and one or both of you was aged under 18 at the time of the marriage and did not have a Court Exemption Order.

Marriages that take place outside the State are not normally registered in Ireland. They are usually registered in the country where they occur. Your foreign marriage certificate will usually be accepted for official purposes in Ireland if you need to show evidence that you are married. If the certificate is in a foreign language, you must provide an official translation or a translation from a recognised translation agency.

You may require a Certificate of Freedom to Marry to get married in some foreign countries. This may also be called Certificate de Coutume or Certificate of Nulla Osta.  You apply online to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for a Certificate of Freedom to Marry.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Question

I heard that I can get a tax exemption if I rent out a room in my home. How does this work?

Answer

If you rent out a room or rooms in your home as residential accommodation, the income you earn is exempt from tax, provided the total paid by the tenant(s) is not more than €12,000 in a tax year (this was €10,000 from 2008 to 2014) and you satisfy the qualifying conditions for the relief (for example, the relief does not apply to rent payable by your child). This is called rent-a-room relief. It applies to a room or rooms in your home – which can include a self-contained unit such as a basement flat or a converted garage. The relief does not apply to rooms that are not attached to your home. 
You must live in your home as your sole or main residence during the tax year for which you are claiming the relief. You do not have to own the property – you could be a tenant and be sub-letting to someone else. (In such cases, you would have to check with your own landlord that sub-letting is allowed.) Your tenant(s) must be using the room as residential accommodation. For example, you can claim relief if you are renting a room to a student for the academic year, but not if you are taking in short-term guests.
Renting a room in your home is not covered by landlord and tenant legislation so you do not have to register as a landlord with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB), provide a rent book to the tenant or ensure that the accommodation meets any minimum physical standards. The gross income you receive cannot be more than the relevant limit for the year in question. This includes sums that the tenant pays to you for food, utilities, laundry or similar goods and services. When you are working out whether the gross income is more than the limit, you cannot deduct any costs you incurred in earning that income. If your income from rent and other services is over the limit, the profits from the entire income (not just the amount over the limit) are taxable. 
If you qualify for rent-a-room relief, the income is not liable to PRSI, the Universal Social Charge or income tax. Claiming rent-a-room relief does not affect your mortgage interest relief or your exemption from Capital Gains Tax (CGT) if you sell your home. You do not have to claim rent-a-room relief as it applies automatically. However, if you are submitting an annual tax return you must record the amount of the exempt income on the return.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below and from revenue.ie.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Roscrea Citizens Information Centre, Rosemary St, Roscrea which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6480 Monday and Thursday 10 am-1pm, and Friday 10am to 1 pm and 2pm to 4 pm. Information is also available online at www.citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.

Know Your Rights  Renewing Your Passport

February 2015

Question

I have just noticed that my passport is out of date and I am going on a skiing holiday in 2 weeks. Will I be able to renew my passport in time before I travel?

Answer

The time it takes to renew a passport can vary, depending on how you make the application. The Passport Office recommends sending your application using An Post's Passport Express service. In general, this guarantees that you will get your passport within 10 working days, but it may take longer at busy times of the year. Check passport.ie for current turnaround times. The standard adult passport costs €80 through Passport Express, with a processing charge of €9 – a total charge of €89. You can hand in your completed application at any An Post office.

The Passport Office no longer accepts applications submitted by regular or registered post from applicants living in Ireland and it is not possible to apply online.

Applying in person at the Passport Office costs €95 and is only recommended if you are due to travel in less than ten days. In this case, you can use the Passport Appointment Booking Service, passportappointments.ie. There is an additional urgent fee of €55 if you need your passport issued in 3–5 working days. It is not usually possible to issue a passport in less than three days unless immediate travel is required due to the death or serious illness of a family member or because you need emergency medical treatment.

You can get a passport renewal application form at any Garda station or An Post office. It is not available online.

To avoid forgetting to renew your passport in time, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provides a Passport Reminder Service, which sends you a reminder email before your passport is due to expire. You can register for this service at passport.ie.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Roscrea Citizens Information Centre, Rosemary St, Roscrea which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6480 Monday and Thursday 10 am-1pm, and Friday 10am to 1 pm and 2pm to 4 pm. Information is also available online at www.citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.

 

 

 

Know Your Rights  Preparing For Retirement


Question

What are the income tax bands and tax rates for 2015?

Answer

The income tax bands and tax rates for 2015 were announced in Budget 2015.

Nearly all income is liable to tax. The amount of tax that you have to pay depends on your personal circumstances. There is a range of income tax reliefs available that can reduce the amount of tax that you have to pay.

Tax is charged as a percentage of your income. The percentage that you pay depends on the amount of your income.

The first part of your income, up to a certain amount, is taxed at what is known as the standard rate of tax. The amount that it applies to is known as the standard-rate tax band. The remainder of your income is taxed at a higher rate of tax.

For 2015 the standard rate of tax remains at 20% but the standard-rate tax bands have been increased as follows:

 2014 2015
Single person €32,800 €33,800
Married couple/civil partners, one income €41,800 €42,800
Married couple/civil partners, two incomes €41,800 (1st income)
€23,800 (2nd income) €42,800 (1st income)
€24,800 (2nd income)
One parent family €36,800 €37,800

The higher rate of tax that applies to the balance of your income has been reduced from 41% in 2014 to 40% for 2015.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Roscrea Citizens Information Centre, Rosemary St, Roscrea which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6480 Monday and Thursday 10 am-1pm, and Friday 10am to 1 pm and 2pm to 4 pm. Information is also available online at www.citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.



January 2015

Question


I will be retiring from work in 2015 when I reach 65. What do I need to know about pensions and other benefits in retirement?

Answer

When you retire at age 65 you can claim Jobseeker’s Benefit, which is based on your Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contributions. If you do not qualify for Jobseeker’s Benefit you can claim Jobseeker’s Allowance, which is a means-tested payment.

At age 66, you may be entitled to the State Pension (Contributory). If you do not have enough PRSI contributions, you can apply for a State Pension (Non-Contributory), which is means-tested. You should apply for State pensions at least three months in advance.

You may have contributed to an occupational pension scheme during your working life or you may have a personal pension arrangement. You need to contact the pension provider to find out exactly what benefits your pension gives you.

If you move from employment to retirement in the course of the year, you should get a PAYE Balancing Statement (P21) from your local tax office at the end of the year. This will trigger a refund of any overpayment of tax you might have made.

Your Jobseeker’s Benefit or State pension and any occupational pension are taxable. However, the tax exemption limits are much higher for people aged 65 or over and there are some extra tax credits.

At age 66 you will be exempt from paying PRSI. At age 70 you will pay a reduced Universal Social Charge if your annual income is €60,000 or less.

At age 66 you will also be eligible for a Free Travel Pass and may be eligible for the Household Benefits Package, which consists of a free TV licence and an electricity or gas allowance.

For medical cards and GP Visit Cards, which are means tested, the income limits are higher for people aged 70 and over.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.


Know Your Rights has been compiled by Roscrea Citizens Information Centre, Rosemary St, Roscrea which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6480 Monday and Thursday 10 am-1pm, and Friday 10am to 1 pm and 2pm to 4 pm. Information is also available online at www.citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.


Know Your Rights  Taxation of social welfare pensions

December 2014

Question

I am about to retire from work. I will get a State Pension (Contributory) and a small occupational pension. Are these pensions taxed?

Answer
If you have a State pension and another source of income, you may have to pay tax on your combined income. Some social welfare payments are not taxable, but most long-term payments, including the State Pension (Contributory) are. Your State pension and Occupational Pension are added together and your tax liability is calculated on the total amount.
There is no mechanism for taxing your social welfare pension at source (before it is paid to you). Your other income determines how tax due is paid. There are increased tax exemption limits for people aged over 65. If you are aged 65 or over and your total income is less than €18,000 a year (if you are single) or if your joint income is less than €36,000 (if you are married or in a civil partnership) you are exempt from income tax.
In your case, you will be getting a State Pension (Contributory) and an occupational pension. Your occupational pension is taxed through the PAYE system in the same way as a wage or salary. This means that you get your tax credits or tax exemption in the normal way. Revenue collects tax on your State Pension by reducing your annual tax credits on your occupational pension. You then effectively pay tax on both the pensions, but it is collected from the occupational pension. For higher incomes, the standard rate cut-off point, the amount of income at which the higher rate of tax starts to apply, will also be reduced. The technical term for this is coding-in of credits.
If the tax exemption thresholds do not apply to you, then you are entitled to a personal tax credit, PAYE tax credit and age tax credit (which applies to people over 65). You do not pay the Universal Social Charge (USC) on the State Pension, but you may have to pay USC on your occupational pension. People aged over 65 do not pay PRSI.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Roscrea Citizens Information Centre, Rosemary St, Roscrea which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6480 Monday and Thursday 10 am-1pm, and Friday 10am to 1 pm and 2pm to 4 pm. Information is also available online at www.citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.

Know Your Rights  Pay over Christmas and the New Year
December 2014
Question

I work part-time from Monday to Wednesday. This year Christmas falls on a Thursday. Will I get paid for Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day, even though I don’t work on those days?  What about New Year’s Day which falls on the following Thursday?

Answer

Christmas Day, St Stephen’s Day and New Year’s Day are public holidays. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are not. All workers are entitled either to paid time off or pay for a public holiday. (Your employer can decide whether to give you time off or pay.)
Part-time workers must have worked for the employer for at least 40 hours in the previous five-week period to have a public holiday entitlement.

If you work part-time and the public holiday falls on a day that you usually work you are entitled to a day’s pay or a paid day off for the public holiday. Part-time workers who are not rostered to work on a public holiday are still entitled to be paid or to paid time off for the public holiday. Part-time workers get one-fifth of their normal pay for the week as compensation for the holiday.

If you are required to work on a public holiday you are entitled to be paid at your usual rate and you are also entitled to either an additional day’s pay or a paid day off.
In your case you should receive one-fifth of your normal weekly pay for each of the three public holidays, Christmas Day, St Stephen’s Day and New Year’s Day. So you should get the additional pay or the equivalent amount of time off. Your employer can decide which option to give you.

You can get detailed information on employment rights on the website workplacerelations.ie.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Roscrea Citizens Information Centre, Rosemary St, Roscrea which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6480 Monday and Thursday 10 am-1pm, and Friday 10am to 1 pm and 2pm to 4 pm. Information is also available online at www.citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.

 


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Roscrea Tidy Towns Update
Roscrea Enhancement Plan: Signage Strategy
World Record Beaten In Roscrea
Relaunch of Racket Hall Hotel
Horse And Pony Meeting In Roscrea
STARCAMP REACHES NEW HEIGHTS!
Roscrea Cardiac Responders Presentation
Roscrea Enhancement Plan Update
Ballyskenach Athletics Club:
WAR AND RISING REMEMBERED IN ROSCREA
National Heritage Week
Roscrea Plays A Part In New Tipp Song
Heritage Week In Roscrea
RCU And Chamber Honours Jo Jo Cunningham
Coffee Morning Invitation
Together Let Us Make Roscrea A Great Place To Grow Old In
Soapbox Results
Roscrea Tidy Towns Results 2016
Launch Of Parish Mission
Onwards & Upwards For Local Tidy Towns Committee
Born from Sadness
Festival of Faith
Katie Taylor Visits Scoil Iosef Naofa, Corville
ST CRONANS CAMOGIE CLUB
Roscrea Miscellany
St Annes Playground
Roscrea Credit Union Annual Art Competition 2016
Show A Little Kindness
Recent Events Around Roscrea
Roscrea People Launch
Roscrea Tidy Towns Says Thanks
Roscrea Enhancement Awards
Save Yourself A Lot Of Money With A FREE Financial Review Se

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