Written Answers. - Medical Expenses Relief Scheme.

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

438 Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for Finance if he will make acupuncture a qualifying expense under the medical expenses relief scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19213/00]

Under section 469 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, tax relief may be claimed in respect of certain health expenses which include the services of a practitioner. Under the legislation "practitioner" means any person who is (a) registered as a medical practitioner under section 26 of the Medical Practitioners Act, 1978, (b) registered as a dental practitioner under section 26 of the Dentists Act, 1985 or (c) in relation to health care received outside the State, persons who are entitled under the laws of the country in which the care is provided to practise medicine or dentistry there.

If the services of a practitioner include acupuncture, tax relief may be claimed. However, if the acupuncture treatment is carried out by a person who is not a practitioner, tax relief may not be claimed, even in cases where the patient has been referred by a practitioner to that person for acupuncture treatment.

I regret that I am unable to introduce more direct tax relief in respect of acupuncture expenses at this time. It would be extremely difficult to specify which practitioners should be recognised in the absence of any official regulation of the area at present. However, I will continue to bear the situation in mind in reviewing the position at a future date.