Thousands may not be claiming tax relief on qualifying 3rd level fees

Thousands of parents and students in Kildare may be missing out on valuable tax relief on qualifying third level fees because they are not claiming it.

As Chair of the Oireachtas Committee for Education and Skills I received figures from the Ministers for Finance and Education & Skills which point to a significant under claiming of this tax relief.

It seems that the level of awareness of the tax relief that applies to certain third level fees is quite low and as a result millions of euro of tax relief is not being claimed by parents and students. In the 2015/16 academic year, some 94,000 students paid fees in excess of the Student Contribution Charge whereas there were less than 24,000 claims for tax relief.

Tax relief is given at the standard rate of 20% on a maximum of €7,000 of fees per person per course. The relief is available on certain full-time or part-time undergraduate or postgraduate courses at private and publicly funded colleges. The relief can be claimed by the person paying the fees.

While there is no tax relief on the first €3,000 of any claim (including the Student Contribution Charge), many parents do not realise that there is tax relief on the Student Contribution Charge payable for second and subsequent children in the same year. In other words, a single disregard of €3,000 applies to a claim relating to qualifying undergraduate course fees irrespective of how many children are being claimed for.

We are approaching a very expensive time for families who have students starting or returning to third level college in the autumn. Many of them will be facing massive accommodation costs over the year ahead. They would be well advised to familiarise themselves with the rules around tax relief on third-level fees as they could well be missing out significant tax relief.