Three lockdowns down and hopefully none to go. With hundreds of thousands of vaccines being rolled over the foreseeable future one can hope that a return to normality is in store for the Irish people. When Leo Varadkar announced the very first lockdown in March 2020 a wave of uncertainty washed across the nation as we headed into uncharted waters along with the rest of the globe. Almost 12 months later and that uncertainty of the future has become the zeitgeist of our generation. This ambiguity has affected us all but none more dramatically than the hospitality industry.
Covid-19 has changed every aspect of hospitality from plexiglass shields at counters to ‘keep your distance’ signs on the floor. Over the next few months as the vaccines take effect on the masses we will begin to see less of these barriers and the hospitality sector will begin to revive itself. In order to aid this revival, the Irish Government has announced the arrival of the staycation tax rebate. This rebate will allow Irish taxpayers to claim back 20% on eligible expenses when they ‘staycay’ in Ireland.
What is it?
The ‘Stay and Spend’ tax back scheme is designed to boost the domestic tourist industry in Ireland by incentivising Irish tax-payers to spend once lockdown ends. As per February 2021, Irish household savings are up €14 billion and the government has expressed the need for this money to be recirculated into the industries that need it most.
The staycation tax rebate has been running since the 1st of October 2020 and will continue until 30 April 2021. With the most recent lockdown ending on the 5th of March, the government may decide to extend the term of the subsidy in order to avoid a paradox of thrift playing out. While running, the staycation tax rebate can be applied by Irish taxpayers to claim back expenses on accommodation, food and non-alcoholic drinks.
What can you claim for?
In terms of accommodation the scheme includes hotels, guest houses, B&Bs, self-catering accommodation, caravan or camping parks and holiday camps.
When it comes to eating out, ‘food and drinks served in a café, restaurant, hotel or pub can also qualify for relief’ but it's worth noting that the expense must be greater than €25.
So, maybe you’re wondering what you can’t claim for - well according to Citizen’s Information the following are ruled out: takeaway food, alcoholic drinks, drinks (either alcoholic or non-alcoholic) served without food and amounts below €25.
To make life easier you can check if a business is participating in the tax back scheme by looking out for the ‘Stay & Spend Tax Credit’ logo, or by checking Revenue’s list of qualifying service providers to see where in your area you can avail of the scheme.
How much can I claim?
The Stay and Spend scheme allows you to reclaim 20% of the money you spend on eligible items (like dinner or accommodation) as long as the cost exceeds €25. The maximum value refund you can claim back is €125 - or €250 if you and your partner are jointly-assessed by Revenue.
This means the maximum amount you rack up on the receipts you submit is €625. A couple can spend up to €1250 and make a claim, so don’t lose those receipts!
How to claim?
You can make your claim in your tax back in January 2022 as long as you have the receipts documenting the eligible expenditure during the period of the scheme. Again, worth noting that this period may be extended as we come out of another lockdown on March 5th and as business owners begin to reopen over the coming months.
Now that losing your receipts can cost you a small fortune on refunds, you should look into downloading an app to your phone or smart device that can save your receipts digitally - such as Receipt Relay.
Receipt Relay is a free mobile app that can be downloaded from the Appstore or Playstore. Once downloaded, set up an account (again, for free!) and save all of your receipts in the one place until you need them, no more wondering where you left that receipt!