Charity Hit with €60,000 Tax Bill

A charity that raised €300,000 to buy a special exercise machine for disabled people has been slapped with a €60,000 tax bill.

The charity, Coisceim Eile, was set up by Tipperary woman Joan Ryan after a car smash left her young daughter Edel paralysed. It recently secured a Lokomat machine, aimed at helping people with disabilities to exercise their limbs.

However, the charity has now been told it faces a VAT bill of 21pc of the purchase price of the machine, which was commissioned from Switzerland and is being used at the First Steps Clinic in Patrickswell, Limerick.

Since arriving in Limerick in recent months, the machine has been used by people with paralysis, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and stroke-related problems.

Edel (13) started benefiting from the treadmill-type exercise three weeks ago after a short setback caused by pressure sores.

"She absolutely loves it," her proud mother told the Irish Independent. "It's doing her good in a lot of ways. She loves being up and standing and there's nobody holding her or pushing her, she's standing up there with her legs moving thanks to the machine. It's like real walking and, psychologically, it's a boost."

Edel has recently started her secondary education at Rockwell College and also has strong musical interests. But the family is frustrated at having to raise another €60,000 just to pay tax for a piece of equipment which is of such benefit to disabled people.

Ordinary

"We never thought the VAT would be an issue," said Ms Ryan. "We're all just ordinary people, we're not into bureaucracy or anything like that.

"I'm severely visually-impaired and it's quite difficult for me to follow up on this. The other members of the committee are all working full-time and don't have time to be following up red tape."

The Revenue has told them that, if the machine is donated by the charity to a hospital, they will qualify for a tax refund. However, the committee are now trying to establish whether the Limerick clinic hosting the Lokomat, Right Therapy Care, will qualify.

"We're trying to find that out. We think there's a lot of obstacles being put on this," said Joan.

Edel was just five years of age when she was seriously injured in a crash in 2001. Joan herself was left with just 5pc vision after the collision, which happened close to their home near Cashel, while little brother Tomas, two-and-a-half at the time, suffered a broken nose.

Edel was later told she couldn't use a Lokomat, which was put in place two years ago at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, because she wasn't an inpatient.

The disappointment prompted her parents, Joan and Tom, to establish Coisceim Eile, with the aim of raising €300,000 for another Lokomat that could be used by disabled people in the south and west of the country.

Original source: Independent