Tax Return Pitfalls & Opportunities

By Rebecca Scaife

Published on: September 13, 2023

Common Tax Pitfalls & Opportunities for 2022 Tax Returns

It’s coming up to that time of year again – tax returns need to be completed and everyone is looking for ways to reduce their bill.

While most people view this as a chore, we see it as a great opportunity!

There are a range of legitimate savings opportunities available in relation to your biggest annual outgoing (your tax bill). Unfortunately, many individuals find themselves ensnared in common tax pitfalls, which can have significant repercussions on their financial health.

Even if you’re a PAYE earner, there are several ways to reduce your tax bill or claim back tax from previous years.

Let’s delve into the most common stumbling blocks, how you can steer clear of them and look at the opportunities available to maximise tax efficiencies this autumn.

The Basics – Be Prepared & Don’t Miss the Deadline

You should have all of your paperwork gathered well in advance and submitted to your accountant. Accountants may have late fees for those who leave everything close to the deadline and there is a penalty for late filing with Revenue.

Important Self-Assessment Dates 2023: Tuesday 31 October or Wednesday 15 November for ROS users.

Pension Contributions

Pensions remain the best way to reduce your annual tax bill.

In Ireland, the tax relief on individual pension contributions is granted at your highest rate of income tax, up to certain age-related limits, as illustrated below.

AgePercentage Limit
Under 3015%
Over 6040%

This means that if you are paying tax at the higher rate, your pension contributions can be deducted from your gross income before the calculation of tax, effectively reducing your tax bill.

If your employer offers contributions to a pension, take full advantage of it. Employer contributions are not subject to Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) taxation, making it a tax-efficient way to boost your pension pot. Remember that pension pots also grow in a tax-free environment.

Pension Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs)

Employer contributions will usually match the amount that you contribute, up to a certain % of salary. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t contribute more to your pension by making additional voluntary contributions (AVCs).

Some people choose to make AVCs throughout the year via payroll, in which case the tax relief is given at source.

There is also the option to make a lump sum AVC payment in October if you have some surplus cash or savings available. You can make AVCs for last year (2022) and claim the tax back immediately via ROS online. Once the tax deadline has passed this year, you’ve missed your chance, but you’ll have up to the end of October 2024 to make AVCs for 2023.

If you are self-assessed, the same principles apply. You can make a lump sum payment to a pension to reduce your tax bill for 2022. See Revenue self-assessment & self-employment tax return guide here.

Claim Back Expenses

You can claim tax relief on various expenses online via, going back four years. If you haven’t claimed expenses for 2019, this is your last chance to do so before the 15th of November deadline.

Example of expenses you can claim tax relief for are:

  • Protection Policies – not all financial protection products are the same, some of them attract tax relief. Certain life insurance policies and income protection policies allow you to claim tax relief at your higher rate on premiums paid. Your insurance provider or intermediary can advise you and supply you with proof of premiums paid for submission via
  • Health Insurance Premiums – if you pay your health insurance premiums directly to a provider, the tax relief is automatically granted to you through a discount on premiums. For those who have health insurance premiums paid by their employer, you can claim ‘medical insurance relief’ via
  • Medical Expenses – visits to the GP, consultant fees, prescriptions, trips to a physio or other healthcare professionals, diagnostic tests, and dental work beyond routine visits, are all eligible expenses to claim back 20%.
  • Working from Home Relief – an admin heavy task but if you have the time and patience to submit all of the requirements, Remote Working Relief is available for up to 30% of the cost of heating, electricity and broadband for the days you spent working from home.

Rental Income

Rental income is declared to Revenue via Form 11 (for self-assessed taxpayers) or Form 12 (for PAYE taxpayers). Make sure you are offsetting all eligible expenses here against your rental income – some people forget about Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) fees and house insurance.

Taxation of Investments

The tax treatment of different investments is complex in Ireland. For myriad reasons, choosing an investment strategy should be done as part of an overall financial plan with an advisor. One of the most important reasons is to ensure tax efficiency and that you understand your obligations to Revenue. Download our Guide to Taxation of Investments for more reading on this.

Beware of potential tax implications in DIY investing!

Declare Everything

Often overlooked from people’s tax returns are:

  • Income from letting a room in your home. Even if the amount is exempt due to the rent-a-room relief and does not exceed the limit, you are still expected to declare the income to Revenue.
  • DIY investment accounts. If you hold any DIY investments via Degiro or similar platform, you are likely to have tax liabilities and you are expected to self-file.

In summary

There are numerous other tax reliefs and credits available for a range of different circumstances such as caring for people fulltime at home, tuition fees for 3rd level education, taking a training course, nursing home fees for relatives or commuting to work on public transport. It’s worth spending time looking through your account or to find all that apply to you and your family.

Comb carefully through the forms used to make your tax return. Look through every section to make sure you’re not missing out on any valuable tax reliefs or credits. You won’t get a pat on the back from anyone for paying more than your fair share…