The Help to Buy incentive, introduced with effect from 1 January 2017, is a scheme to assist first-time purchasers with the deposit they need to buy or build a new house or apartment. The incentive gives a refund of Income Tax and Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) paid in Ireland over the previous four years, subject to limits outlined in the legislation.
Section 477C of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 outlines the definitions and conditions that apply to the Help to Buy scheme. A claimant under the scheme must make an application confirming they meet various conditions specified in the section, including that they are a first-time purchaser and that they have completed a tax return form and are tax compliant for each of the tax years for which a claim is being made. The obligations apply to each party, where there is more than one party to a claim.
The definition of “first-time purchaser” for the purposes of the scheme is an individual who, at the time of making a claim under the scheme, has not, either individually or jointly with any other person, previously purchased or previously built, directly or indirectly, on his or her own behalf a dwelling. The “qualifying residence” must be occupied as the sole or main residence of the first-time purchaser.
I am advised by Revenue that in the circumstances raised by the Deputy, where a person had previously legally purchased a home but never held a beneficial interest in the home, the full facts of the case would have to be established to determine if, at the time of the claim, the individual met the definition of “first-time purchaser” outlined above. Revenue advise me that this type of claim would need to be examined on a case by case basis. In cases where an individual had previously acted as a trustee to purchase a dwelling, the terms of the trust would have a bearing on the position. If it were determined that an individual would be a “first-time purchaser” for the purposes of the help to buy scheme, then the individual concerned may qualify for the relief if the other conditions for the incentive are met.
If the Deputy has a specific case in mind, he may wish to send full details of the case to Revenue to determine the position on qualification for the incentive.