‘Student tax relief should account for high accommodation costs’

The tax relief currently available to students should include accommodation costs to help alleviate the stress and pressure they encounter, according to Fine Gael Senator Aisling Dolan, who is her party’s spokesperson for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

Senator Dolan was referencing the relief granted at the standard rate of income tax, currently 20 per cent, where an individual pays “qualifying fees” or tuition fees in respect of an approved course. This includes the “student contribution”.

“There is no specific provision for a tax relief when it comes to student accommodation costs. Whether it is a higher rate or a targeted relief, those eligible should be able to claim more to offset this cost,” Senator Dolan said.

“We’re approaching a new college semester and students are in the midst of accommodation hunting, an often difficult and time-consuming process. This also puts pressure on parents and families who are trying to find the best option.

“The Government has agreed to a significant intervention in recent weeks where the State would pay colleges to build accommodation in return for cheaper rents. This is incredibly important, but it will take time to implement”.

Changes have been made aimed at supporting students and families by increasing the income threshold levels of support by €1,000 with Student Universal Support Scheme (SUSI) as well as an additional €200 for the maintenance grant.

“The reduction of the eligible distance to college from 45kms to 30kms means more students are eligible for support and recent reductions of 50 per cent in public transport fares mean more economical options to travel to college,” Senator Dolan continued.

“Sourcing accommodation can be a stressful part of the college experience. As supply increases, students should be met with more diverse choices and something to lessen the financial burden. Fresh ideas should be welcomed and supported to deliver for our students”.