Revenue plan will force the self-employed to file tax returns online
SELF-employed people will be forced to file their tax returns online under plans being considered by the Revenue Commissioners.
The move to electronic filing and payments is despite the fact that the Revenue is one of the largest issuers of cheques in the State.
The proposal was criticised yesterday as a move that would cut costs for the Revenue but do little to make it easier for the self-employed and small firms.
Already large firms have to file electronically, but now the tax authorities want to extend this in phases to all those who make tax returns.
The Revenue is proposing that from next January all companies, partnerships and most of those who are self-assessed will be subject to mandatory online filing. The new rules would also apply to those registered for VAT and employers with more than five staff.
And the Revenue is proposing that by 2013, almost everyone who has to make a return will file it electronically.
Director of taxation with Chartered Accountants Ireland Brian Keegan said the move was primarily in the Revenue's interest. He said tax officials had to spend a lot of time matching tax payments received by cheque with returns filed online.
Tax practitioner Cathal Maxwell of PayLessTax.ie said many of the self-employed and small firms were used to paper- based filing and would resent being forced to file online.
A spokesperson for the Revenue defended the issuing of cheques for tax refunds, but stressed that taxpayers have the option of being paid electronically. Business lobby group ISME welcomed the move to electronic filing of tax returns.