Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Questions (198)

Patrick O'Donovan


198. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Finance his plans to include existing owners of derelict properties in the help-to-buy scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43117/20]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Help to Buy (HTB) incentive, 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.

I am advised by Revenue as follows:

In order for an applicant to qualify for the HTB scheme they must be a first time purchaser and the property must be a qualifying residence, as defined in section 477C of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (TCA), as well as satisfying the conditions outlined in section 477C TCA.

Section 477C TCA provides a definition of a first-time purchaser for the purposes of the HTB scheme. A first-time purchaser 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.

In a case where an individual who received a gift of or inherited a house previously, the individual may still be considered a first-time buyer for the purposes of the HTB scheme subject to all other conditions being satisfied, on the basis that they have not previously purchased a dwelling, as the wording of the legislation provides.

Unless the existing owner received the house as a gift or inherited the property, they would not be considered a “first time purchaser”.

Section 477C also defines a qualifying residence. The legislation is very specific as to the definition of a qualifying residence. It must be a new building which was not, at any time, used or suitable for use as a dwelling. Renovation or refurbishment of old houses to either upgrade or reinstate them for habitation does not qualify for HTB. In the circumstances where the house was previously used as a dwelling but knocked down and rebuilt, then it is “new”.

The Revenue Tax and Duty manual Part 15-01-

46 Help to Buy outlines further guidance on the scheme.

I have no plans to change these terms of the scheme.