I propose to take Questions Nos. 98, 99 and 101 together.
It is estimated that the total number of mortgage interest relief claimants in 2011, the latest year for which information is readily available, is about 488,000, of which some 266,000 are estimated to be first-time buyers. The total cost of mortgage interest relief in 2011 is estimated at €357 million. Given the current structure of mortgage interest relief, in that relief is available at varying rates and subject to certain ceilings, in respect of interest paid by first-time buyers and non-first-time buyers, on a loan used by that individual for the purchase, repair, development or improvement of his/her sole or main residence, it is not possible to calculate the cost of tax forgone of increasing mortgage interest relief for all loans taken out in or after 2004 by 1 percentage point in the time allowed.
However, the tax forgone cost of increasing mortgage interest relief by 1 percentage point has been calculated in relation to first-time buyers who took out qualifying loans in the period 2004 to 2008 for whom the rate of tax relief was increased in Budget 2012. The Revenue Commissioners tentatively estimate that the number of first-time buyers who qualified for this relief to be in the order of 214,000. The cost to the exchequer of that measure is estimated at €52 million in a full year. The estimated cost to the exchequer of increasing the rate of mortgage interest relief by 1 percentage point for those first-time buyers is of the order of €11 million in a full year. These figures are provisional and subject to revision.