You don't have to be long in the rat race before you realise that your wage – you know, that lovely number you see at the top of your contract that makes you think, "I am gonna be so fucking rich" – actually has no bearing whatsoever on the amount of money you end up with.
In fact, by the time you've paid your rent, bills and bought enough food for the month, you're wishing you were back at that minimum-wage part-time job that paid far less than this one but left you with way more time and pretty much the exact same amount of disposable dosh.
The good news is, there are a whole load of little expenses that you could be claiming tax back on – and you may not even know about them. Starting with...
1. Your rent
This is an oldie but a goodie – you may be able to claim tax relief on the rent you pay to a private landlord in your rented accommodation. The bad news? It only applies if you were renting on 7 December 2010, and it's been phased out next year – but you could have a few bucks waiting for you if you check back through your records.
For the self-employed among you, there's even better news; if you work from home, your rent counts as office rental – you'll usually be able to claim tax back on a portion of your rent, based on the number of rooms in your house. So, if you have four rooms and one is your office, you'll be claiming tax back on 25% of your total rent.
2. Home improvements
Yep, really – if you're having work done on your house before the end of 2016, you can apply for a 13.5% tax credit on the qualifying expenditure. Essentially, on the money you spend on renovating your house. Pretty neat, right?
3. Work-related expenses
Here's where things get a little bit vague – if you have expenses specific to your work, you may be able to claim tax relief on them. This doesn't include getting to and from work (although you can claim tax back on a new bike via the Bike 2 Work scheme), but might include petrol if, say, you're a driving instructor; or your uniform, if you're responsible for supplying and laundering it yourself. Revenue has the deets.
Again, the self-employed folks have a little more wiggle room – keep receipts for absolutely everything and you can claim back for anything that can reasonably be explained as a business expense. That's lunches "with clients", "office equipment", stationery, postage costs... Be inventive (just don't be insane).
4. Your pension payments
If you're savvy, you'll have at least thought about getting a pension – and if you're smarter, you'll know exactly how much of your earnings you can contribute to your pension, and get them in there without paying tax on 'em. It depends on your age – so if you're under 30, you can contribute 15% of your net earnings, rising to 40% for the over-60s. It makes putting all that money away for a rainy day seem like a seriously smart idea.
5. Medical expenses
If you have any medical expenses in a given tax year – with the exception of routine dental or Specsavers check-ups – you could be entitled to claim up to 20% of the cost back. That also applies to folks on the Drugs Payment Scheme (which caps the amount you'll spend per month on prescription medication), although you obviously can't claim back on medical expenses covered by your insurance. That would just be mad.
6. Health insurance
You can also get up to 20% back on the premium you pay for health insurance – if you're self-employed, this deduction is made at source (meaning you'll just pay slightly less), but if your employer covers your medical insurance, you can claim it back from the Rev.
7. Tuition fees
This is a weird, loopholey one, because while you can claim tax relief on tuition fees, you can't claim any relief on registration fees, examination fees, all those other little expenses they slip in to make you pay for your "free" education. Which makes it even more worthwhile to have a look at what you could be claiming back.
The take-home? There's a lot that you could be claiming tax back for, and you could end up with close to €1,000 back in your pocket – or, y'know, in your wardrobe – at the end of a good rummage for receipts.
Your best bet is to call Revenue, suffer through the automated system – "after... the... tone... please... say... your... PPS... number... and... then... press... the... hash... key" – and ask for some advice.
In our experience, they're really helpful – and they are, after all, the experts, who'll know what you can and can't expect.