Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (132)

Mark Ward

Question:

132. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Finance if he has considered providing tax relief for counselling and psychotherapy services on the same basis as is provided for other medical expenses. [8762/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The rationale behind income tax relief for health expenses is broadly intended to provide assistance for significant or exceptional health expenses.

Consistent with this rationale, tax relief in respect of qualifying health expenses is provided for in section 469 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. This section defines "health expenses" as "expenses in respect of the provision of health care including the services of a practitioner".

A practitioner is defined as "any person who is:

a. registered in the register established under section 43 of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007,

b. registered in the register established under section 26 of the Dentists Act, 1985, or,

c. in relation to health care provided outside the State, entitled under the laws of the country in which the care is provided to practice medicine or dentistry there".

In the case of counselling or psychotherapy, the relief is available where the counsellor, psychologist or psychotherapist carrying out the treatment is a qualified practitioner, or where a patient is referred by a qualified practitioner for a diagnostic procedure.

This is similar to the position that applies to other medical expenses, such as physiotherapy and I am satisfied that the legislation provides sufficient flexibility for expenses that should qualify for tax relief. Accordingly, there are no plans to change these arrangements at this time.

It is noted that there may be significant differences in the level of qualifications and/or clinical training undertaken by individuals who provide counselling or psychotherapy services in Ireland. The question of whether counsellors and psychotherapists could be registered with an appropriate body, or meet an equivalent standard that might then be used in the context of this tax measure, is a matter in the first instance for the Minister for Health.