The cost of living crisis has been a cause for concern for households throughout the country as families try to make cutbacks wherever they can.
However, a recent survey has revealed that half of Irish taxpayers are unaware of two government schemes that can help with the cost of commuting to work each day and with the cost of fuel increasing, the schemes could see you make huge savings.
The survey conducted by Taxback.com found that half of taxpayers are unaware of the Taxsaver Commuter Ticket and the Cycle to Work Scheme.
Of the over 1,200 taxpayers surveyed, just 5% said they use both schemes.
Dublin public buses seen on O'Connell Brdge during Level 5 Covid-19 lockdown. On Friday, February 5, 2021, in Dublin, Ireland.(Image: gettyimages.ie)
The Cycle to Work scheme was introduced in 2009 to provide a tax incentive scheme to encourage employees to bike to work.
Under the scheme, an employer can pay for a new bicycle (including bicycle accessories), with the employee then repaying the cost in regular instalments from their gross salary.
The Taxsaver ticket dates even further back to 1999, incentivising people to use public transport to and from work.
The cost is deducted directly from your gross salary and can mean huge savings of between 31% - 52% off the regular price of a travel ticket – be it bus, rail or the Luas as a result of tax, PRSI and USC savings, and depending on your tax band.
Speaking of the findings, Barry Cahill, Director of Taxback.com’s Employee Financial Wellbeing Service, said: “It’s a surprise to find that that as many as 49% of taxpayers don’t know what these supports are and that just 5% of workers use both. A slightly higher percentage use the Cycle to Work scheme (10%) as opposed to the commuter ticket (3%), but these are very low numbers.
“The pandemic and the rise of remote working may, understandably, have had an impact on the amount of people using these schemes – simply because there is less commuting to be done. However, these are both well-established services, and we would love to see more people taking full advantage of the significant savings they offer”.
He added: “Employers have a role to play in ensuring their employees are in the know about, and importantly, are able to access these important money saving measures.
“Essentially, all employees of companies are eligible to participate in the Taxsaver scheme, as long as the commuter tickets are applied for and provided by the employer, and with the Bike to Work - all employees who use their bike for qualifying journeys i.e., meaning the whole or part of a journey between your home and your normal place of work - are able to apply through their employer once every 4 years. However, a third of respondents to our survey didn’t think they would qualify for either scheme – which might not be the case.”
The Taxback.com survey also questioned whether the Government should introduce more tax relief or incentives around the commute the work to reduce costs.
Mr Cahill commented: “The overwhelming majority (67%) voiced calls for reform in terms of the type and amount of assistance from the state to help reduce the cost of commuting for all workers.
“This is particularly timely given the cost of fuel for transport as well as efforts being made to reduce the number of cars on our roads for environmental reason. Of those who called for change, 27% felt that more should be done, but only for lower-income employees as they are disproportionately impacted by commuting costs. Just 6% felt that the Taxsaver Commuter Ticker and Cycle to Work schemes are enough on their own”.
Recent statistics from the Department of Transport show that 73.3% of journeys in Ireland in 2019 were made by car, with work and education being the main reasons. However, just 6.5% of journeys were made by public transport.