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Tens of thousands of Irish workers are due a refund on PRSI contributions, following an overcharging of workers who earned under €26,000 a year in the year 2010.

The overcharge occurred when those who earned under €26,000 in that year made over €500 in a week. In that instance, the health levy applied automatically doubled from 2 per cent to 4 per cent.

The number of people earning under that amount in 2010 was 900,000.

The Department of Social Protection has said that a mistake was not made in the case of overcharges, but that once an employee crossed the €500 threshold, the levy would be applied and then refunded later if found to be an overpayment.

The Department also said that it has paid out €10 million already to taxpayers in refunds, with around 106,000 applications received. The Department is still processing the majority of  these applications. However, the Department’s website also said that it was “difficult to be precise” about how many people might be owed refunds.

“It’s difficult to be precise as it’s only those whose gross annual earnings were less than €26,000 and who earned more than €500 in a particular week who may be eligible for a refund,” the website said.

“Up to the end of December 2011, the Department of Social Protection had paid about €10 million to some 26,000 applicants. This amount may include refunds in respect of other years – not just 2010.”

So far, the average payout of refunds is €400.

The Consumer Association of Ireland has encouraged anyone who thinks they may have been overcharged to check their payslips and apply for a refund.

Refunds can only be made by writing to the Department of Social Protection at Department of Social Protection, PRSI Refunds Section, Oisin House, Pearse Street, Dublin 2, with your name, address, Personal Public Service (PPS) number and your date of birth.

Applications will only be considered for four years previous.

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