Question to the Minister for Finance (Mr Michael Noonan, TD)
To ask the Minister for Finance if he will consider facilitating tax relief on physiotherapy expenses without the requirement of a referral from a general practitioner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 16th July, 2013.
Income tax relief in respect of health expenses is allowable in accordance with section 469 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. This legislation provides for tax relief for health expenses incurred in the provision of health care. Health care is defined for the purposes of that legislation as the prevention, diagnosis, alleviation or treatment of an ailment, injury, infirmity, defect or disability and includes care received by a woman in respect of pregnancy. Health care does not include routine ophthalmic or dental treatment.
The section provides that tax relief must be either for the costs of the services of a practitioner, defined as a person registered on the register established under the Medical Practitioners Act 2007, or diagnostic procedures carried out on the advice of a practitioner, which includes “physiotherapy or similar treatment prescribed by a practitioner”. Eligibility for tax relief is limited to expenses relating to treatment considered necessary and appropriate by a qualified practitioner.
Section 469 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 consolidated all previous legislation pertaining to relief for health expenses, in particular section 12 of Finance Act 1967 which introduced the relief in the first instance. That section also required that physiotherapy or similar treatment be prescribed by a practitioner before qualifying for relief. This requirement has, therefore, been part of the qualifying criteria since the introduction of relief for health expenses and I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that guidance and instructions to staff have remained unchanged in this regard.
This issue was raised during the debates in the Seanad on Finance Bill 2013, during which I agreed to re-examine the matter during the course of this year.
My officials are currently in the process of examining the issue and have requested additional information from the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists to assist them in the examination of the matter. To date, the additional information sought has not been provided.
Furthermore, I am advised that the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists recently met with the Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly T.D., on this issue and I am currently awaiting his views on the issue.
When the analysis is completed and the findings are presented to me, I will make any necessary decisions in the context of Finance (No. 2) Bill 2013.