A number of survivors of institutional care have hit out over inheritance tax rules which some claim forced them to sell their land.
In the years before adoption was given full recognition in Ireland, children in institutional care were fostered out to families under as system known as ‘boarding out’.
Farm families were among the most common professions to foster children under the system.
However, despite numerous stories of ill-treatment of children under this system, many foster children prospered, and some were bequeathed property such as farms by their foster parents.
However, some survivors say that as they were never legally adopted in the eyes of the State, many survivors have subsequently been hit with significant tax bills when they attempted to inherit property.
PJ Haverty, a survivor of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, described his treatment by the Revenue Commissioners as “disgraceful”.
“My foster mother made sure the farm would come into my name,” he explained.
“She was determined that I get the farm because I worked on it, and I was never any trouble for them.
“But I was just an outsider in their (the Revenue Commissioners) eyes. We were told we’d have to pay the full amount of inheritance taxes and I had to borrow money to pay.
“That is utterly discrimination to the highest degree.”
Walter Francis, a fellow Tuam survivor, said he had to sell his farm in order to pay the tax bill.
“I would have kept the land if there was no tax issue. It was very unfair,” he said.
Independent Senator Victor Boyhan, who has been working with the two men, said it is important for the State to provide practical support and help for the survivors of Tuam and those who were incarcerated in State institutions.
“The issue of inheritance tax from foster families is a contentious issue and one that I believe Revenue should consider on compassionate grounds,” he said.
Revenue said it is obliged to ensure that information about individual taxpayers or a small group of taxpayers cannot be deduced from information or data released.
“This means that where there is a relatively small number of cases in any category, Revenue’s obligation to protect taxpayer confidentiality sometimes prevents us from commenting or providing information that could facilitate the identification of taxpayers,” it said.
“The treatment of each individual case will depend on the circumstances of that particular case.”