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News / October 15, 2008

Budget cuts tax relief on dental bills

by Guy Hiscott

Following the Budget on 14 October, from 1 January 2009 taxpayers will only be able to claim standard rate tax relief (at 20%) on all dental bills, rather than at the top rate as those paying 41% tax can do now.

Speaking about the cut, Mr Fintan Hourihan, chief executive of the Irish Dental Association (IDA), said that the move would save the exchequer little by way of reducing tax relief but would have a significant impact on those requiring necessary dental treatment.

He stated: ‘This country already has one of the poorest levels of state support for dental health of any European country and the public dental health sector is close to collapse. Today’s news is likely to discourage large numbers from undertaking important dental treatment or from getting important preventative work done for their children.’

Mr Hourihan went on to comment that the Association would be seeking an urgent meeting with Mary Harney, the Minister for Health & Children, to discuss the matter: ‘We don’t dispute that these are difficult times but we strongly contend that the marginal impact of this move for Government finances is far outweighed by the lasting damage it will do to our dental health services and the oral health of our population.’

Meanwhile, on the same day, Ms Harney announced details of the 2009 Estimates for the health services, which include more work on the scope for rationalising the Dental Treatment Service Scheme and the Dental Treatment Benefit Scheme, and the clinical effectiveness of the existing child dental services; these will be considered in the context of the development of a new oral health policy which is already underway.

The Minister said: ‘Faced with the very serious deterioration in the public finances, the Government has taken corrective action in relation to public spending. I am confident we can continue to deliver services with innovation and reform, efficiency improvements and targeted additional funding.’