Saturday 24 March 2018

Extra staff drafted in to clear massive Revenue taxpayer appeals backlog

Almost 1,200 people are challenging bills, worth millions of euros

Department of Finance to hire a temporary team (Bloomberg)
Department of Finance to hire a temporary team (Bloomberg)
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

The Department of Finance is finalising plans to take on a team of additional staff at the new Tax Appeals Commission (TAC) in order to clear a massive backlog of cases in which taxpayers are challenging their bills.

Hundreds of millions of euros are in dispute and some tax sources believe the cases will take several years to clear.

According to a recent presentation by the commission, the temporary commissioners will be solely focused on the processing of the backlog of cases transferred from Revenue.

"Plans are being finalised at present to put in place a recruitment process for temporary commissioners," a spokeswoman for the Department of Finance said.

In the presentation to accountants, the TAC said it would be "impossible" to give an estimate of how long it wouldtake to process the cases until further analysis was done.

Until last year, all appeals had been dealt with by Revenue, but the responsibility has now been transferred to the TAC, which aims to bring more transparency to the process.

An effort was made to reduce the volume of cases being transferred to the TAC, but with limited success. Only one in 10 disgruntled taxpayers settled appeals with Revenue ahead of the commission taking over and around 1,500 cases transferred to the new commission involving close to 1,200 taxpayers.

The first tranche of cases was transferred in July. This comprised those who had responded to a 'settlement' letter indicating their wish not to enter into settlement discussions with Revenue but, instead, to have their appeals transferred directly to the TAC.

The second tranche of cases was transferred on September 30, comprising those who had not responded to the letter, and the final tranche transferred last month.

The TAC has already begun to publish rulings and last week it emerged that it had ruled that two taxpayers could not get refunds of tax overpayments dating back more than four years, even though Revenue accepted that the taxpayers paid too much. The commissioner found that the office did not have discretion in relation to the four-year limit on the period for which tax can be claimed back.

In its recent presentation, the TAC said it would conduct a review of the operation of its procedures in the second quarter of this year.

However, this would be limited to a review of procedures and would not be a review of the legislation.

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