Know your rights November 2014

Know Your Rights A: Paying for water

November 2014

Question

I live with my 2 small children in a standard town house. The water meter was installed this summer. How much will my water bills be? Can I get tax relief?

Answer

Irish Water provides two services – water supply and wastewater (sewage) services. As you are in a town house, I presume that you use both services, so the charge is €4.88 per 1,000 litres in your case.

There is a free allowance of 30,000 litres per year for every household. This is worth €146.40 per year to you. If you are getting Child Benefit for your children, you can claim two free child allowances of 21,000 litres per year. These are worth €102.48 each per year.

You apply to Irish Water for these allowances, either on the form that has issued to every household, online at water.ie or by phone at 1890 448 448. You will need to provide your own Personal Public Service Number (PPSN) and your children’s PPSNs. Irish Water will use these numbers to check that you are entitled to the allowances.

In general, you will be billed for the amount of water you use each quarter, but your first three bills, starting in January 2015, will be capped at standard assessed charges. These assessed charges are based on the standard assessed consumption for each household size.

This capping means that the most you can be charged on these first three bills is the standard assessed charge for your family size – one adult and two children, based on standard quarterly usage of 27,000 litres. Of course, if you use less than this amount of water, you will only be charged for the metered amount.

As you are using both water supply and wastewater services, the assessed charge will be €527.04 for a full year before allowances.

Your free allowances add up to €351.36, giving an annual assessed charge, after allowances, of €175.68. This leaves a quarterly charge of €43.92, so the most that you can be charged for the first three quarters is €43.92 per bill.

If you pay income tax, you can claim relief at 20% on the water charges, up to a maximum of €500 per year. This equates to a maximum tax credit of €100.

Read more about water charges on citizensinformation.ie. Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights B: Solutions for problem debt

November 2014

Question

We borrowed a lot to pay for our children’s college fees and weddings, when we both had good incomes. We now earn less than before and find it very hard to cover our debts. We’re afraid to open letters or answer the phone in case it’s another demand for payment. Is there any help for people like us?

Answer

You are clearly in financial difficulty and struggling with your debts. There are many people in a similar situation.

Three debt solutions have been set up to help people with serious debt problems to sort out their situation and get protection from their creditors. They are the Debt Relief Notice (DRN), Debt Settlement Arrangement (DSA) and Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA).
The appropriate solution for you depends on the size of your debts and whether or not you have a mortgage. You apply through an Approved Intermediary for a DRN and through a Personal Insolvency Practitioner for a DSA or PIA. These qualified insolvency professionals are supervised by the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI).

When the solution has been put in place, your creditors cannot contact you while you stick to the agreed arrangements. Depending on your situation, some or all of your debt can be written off.

Many Money Advice and Budgeting Services (MABS) companies have been authorised as Approved Intermediaries to help people on low incomes, with debts under €20,000, through the Debt Relief Notice (DRN) process.

For a DSA or PIA, which generally cover larger debts, your creditors must agree to the solution proposed by your Personal Insolvency Practitioner. If they don’t agree, you then have the option of bankruptcy.

You can get further information from MABS on 0761 07 2000 (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 8 pm), from mabs.ie, from the ISI’s helpline 0761 06 4200 (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm) and from isi.gov.ie.

The ISI also has a new website backontrack.ie for people who are struggling with debt.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights C: Getting back to work

November 2014

Question

I’ve been on Jobseeker’s Allowance for a while and there’s nothing available in my old trade. I’d like to retrain, get some work experience and maybe even set up a business. Where can I find out about my options?

Answer

Gettingbacktowork.ie, a new website from the Citizens Information Board, has a broad range of information aimed specifically at people in your situation.
It answers many questions that you may have on returning to work and provides information that will be useful if you plan to start a business.

It includes a ‘My situation’ section which covers the path back to work for a specific situation such as an early school leaver, a recently unemployed person and a jobseeker who wishes to retrain, as well as someone who wants to set up a business.

 

Topics include:
• Payments for jobseekers – the main income supports and extra benefits
• The way back to work – employment schemes to help you back to work
• Education and training to improve your chances of finding a job
• Benefits and work – supports for people in work and the benefits you can keep when you get a job
• Starting a job – types of employment, finding a job, contracts of employment, signing off social welfare
• Your rights in work – employment rights and equality at work
• Setting up a business – information sources, legal structures, tax and income supports
• Money matters – tax, PRSI, Universal Social Charge and more

Gettingbacktowork.ie uses selected content from citizensinformation.ie. This new website has been designed to adapt to different devices like tablets and smartphones, as well as laptops, so you can access it from anywhere and get the information you need.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.
Know Your Rights D: Paying the Local Property Tax
November 2014

Question

I paid the Local Property Tax by credit card this time last year. Is it the same amount for 2015 and how do I pay?

Answer

Your Local Property Tax (LPT) is based on the valuation of your property on 1 May 2013. However, the rate you pay for 2015 may vary from the 2014 rate, following the introduction of the local adjustment factor. This means that the basic LPT rates can be adjusted up or down by up to15% in different local authority areas.

Fourteen local authorities have reduced 2015 LPT rates in their areas by up to 15%. You can use Revenue’s online calculator to check how much LPT is payable in different local authority areas.

As you paid your LPT for 2014 in one lump sum, you will get a letter from Revenue (or an email if you are a ROS customer) telling you whether your local authority changed the rate for 2015 and confirming the amount of LPT due. If you own more than one property, the letter will confirm the total amount due for all your properties. It will include your Property ID and PIN.

When you get this letter you must confirm how you want to pay your 2015 LPT to Revenue. You can choose to continue to pay your LPT in the way you paid it in 2014 or you can change your payment method. You will recall from last year that, if you pay by credit card, the deduction will be made on the day that the transaction is completed online.

You must contact Revenue by 25 November 2014 if you want to switch to a phased payment method or by 7 January 2015 if you want to pay in full in one lump sum. The easiest way to do this is to use the LPT online system. If you need help with the online system you can call the LPT helpline on 1890 200 255.
People who didn’t pay their 2014 LPT in a lump sum do not get a letter from Revenue and they do not need to do anything unless they want to change their payment method. Revenue will apply any rate reductions automatically.

You can get more information from Revenue.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Co Wicklow Citizens Information Service which provides a free and confidential service to the public. See www.citizensinformation.ie for details of your local centre or phone our main office in Bray on 0761 07 6780
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.

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