Mortgage interest relief

Introduction

Mortgage interest relief is a tax relief based on the amount of qualifying mortgage interest that you pay in a given tax year for your principal private residence (your home). A tax year means the period from 1 January to 31 December.

Mortgages taken out after 31 December 2012 do not qualify for mortgage interest relief.

Changes in 2018

Mortgage interest relief was due to be abolished entirely after 31 December 2017. Following Budget 2018, it was extended to 2020 on a tapered basis for people who were eligible in 2017 (in general, people who took out a qualifying mortgage loan between 2004 and 2012). It will cease entirely from January 2021.

Rules

For you to qualify for tax relief on mortgage interest repayments, the interest must relate to money that you have borrowed to purchase, repair or improve your sole or main residence. For example, you cannot claim mortgage interest relief for interest on a loan used to buy a holiday home or investment property, but you can claim it if the loan is to extend or improve your main home.

If you work and pay taxes in the UK (including Northern Ireland) but your sole or main residence is in the State, you can claim relief on the interest you pay on the mortgage. You need to have a Personal Public Service (PPS) number to claim the relief.

Relief is also subject to upper limits or thresholds, which depend on your personal situation and whether you are a first-time buyer - see 'Rates and thresholds' for details.

Mortgage start date and entitlement to relief

Your entitlement to mortgage interest relief depends on the start date of your mortgage:

  • If you took out a mortgage in 2003 or earlier, your entitlement expired in 2009.
  • If you took out a mortgage between 1 January 2004 and 31 December 2012, your entitlement to relief will continue until the end of 2020.
  • If you took out a mortgage after 31 December 2012, you are not entitled to mortgage interest relief.

If you married or entered into a civil partnership with someone who is entitled to mortgage interest relief for a loan taken out between 2004 and 2012, you may be entitled to additional relief for that loan from the date of your marriage or civil partnership.

How the relief works

Mortgage interest relief is administered via Tax Relief at Source (TRS). This means that your mortgage lender gives you the benefit of tax relief on the amount of mortgage interest paid. The lender does this by reducing your mortgage repayment by the amount of tax relief you are entitled to in each tax year. Any amendments to this tax relief - for example, if there is a change in interest rates - are made automatically by your lender.

You do not have to be earning a taxable income to qualify for mortgage interest relief.

Normally, you do not claim mortgage interest relief in an annual tax return because it is given directly to you by your mortgage lender. However, you can still claim tax relief from your Revenue office for interest paid on non-secured loans used for qualifying purposes.

Mortgage arrears and payment of interest

While the legislation governing mortgage interest relief provides for granting of relief based on the amount of qualifying interest paid in a tax year, many lenders used to operate the relief based on the amount of interest charged to an account, even if the borrower did not actually pay that amount of interest. In the past, this had little impact.

However, in response to the growing incidence of mortgage arrears, since January 2014 all lenders must grant Tax Relief at Source (TRS) based on the amount of interest actually paid by the borrower within a tax year.

This change does not affect borrowers who make the full repayments on time, in accordance with their mortgage loan agreement.

For borrowers who do not make their repayments or who pay less than the amount of interest charged to their account, the TRS amount is reduced to reflect the actual amount of interest paid.

People who are only paying the interest portion of their mortgage (under an interest-only arrangement) are still entitled to TRS and will continue to get it if they meet the qualifying conditions.

Rates and thresholds

There are different rates and thresholds for mortgage interest relief, depending on your circumstances.

  • The rate of relief depends on when you took out your mortgage and whether you were a first-time buyer.
  • The amount of mortgage interest on which you can get relief is subject to upper limits or thresholds. The threshold that applies to you depends on your situation.

Revenue has published details of how to calculate the mortgage interest relief you will get each year.

First-time buyers

You are considered a first-time buyer for the purposes of mortgage interest relief for the first 7 tax years that you are entitled to the relief. In 2020, most people who qualified for first-time buyer mortgage interest relief for loans taken out between 2004-2012 are no longer considered first-time buyers. Their rate of mortgage interest relief in 2020 is now 15%, the same as non-first time buyers.

However, if you bought your first home between 2004 and 2008 inclusive, your rate of relief for the tax years 2012 to 2020 is 30%.

In most cases, these people are no longer classed as first-time buyers, as more than 7 years have passed since they took out their mortgages. So, while they are still entitled to the 30% rate of mortgage interest relief until the end of 2020, the interest thresholds for non-first-time buyers apply to these people in 2020 (see ‘Interest thresholds’ below).

Non-first-time buyers

If you are not a first-time buyer, the rate of mortgage interest relief is 15% (unless you took out the mortgage as a first-time buyer between 1 January 2004 and 31 December 2008 - in this case you continue to get the special rate of 30%).

Lower thresholds also apply to non-first-time buyers – see below.

Tapered reduction in qualifying interest

The percentage of interest that qualifies for relief reduced in 2018 and the following years, as set out in this table:

2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 and after
100% 75% 50% 25% 0%

Interest thresholds

The amount of mortgage interest on which you can get relief is subject to upper limits or thresholds. The threshold that applies to you depends on your situation.

Table showing interest thresholds 2017-2020
First-time buyer Non first-time buyer
Year Married, in a civil partnership, widowed Single Married, in a civil partnership, widowed Single
2017 €20,000 €10,000 €6,000 €3,000
2018 €15,000 €7,500 €4,500 €2,250
2019 €10,000 €5,000 €3,000 €1,500
2020 €5,000 €2,500 €1,500 €750

If you took out a mortgage in 2012 as a first-time buyer, you are no longer a first-time buyer in 2020, as you are now in year 9. The threshold that applies in 2020 is therefore €750 or €1,500, which is 25% of the relevant 2017 threshold for non-first-time buyers.

How to apply

In general, you should register online for mortgage interest relief. However, if you cannot use the online facility, you can contact the TRS Helpline on 1890 46 36 26 or email trsadmin@revenue.ie for assistance. You can get more information on revenue.ie.

Where to apply

TRS Section

Collector-General's Division
Sarsfield House
Francis Street
Limerick
Ireland

Locall: 1890 463626

Page edited: 28 February 2020