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Reform of the Tax Appeal System

Minister of Finance, Mr Michael Noonan TD, launched a public consultation process in relation to amendments of the tax appeal system.

The Department of Finance launched the consultation process after many professional bodies expressed their discontentment with the current system. Currently, there are long delays in having a case heard and decisions made are not published.

The Irish Tax Institute (“ITI”) published a response to the consultation in which they made the following recommendations:

  • Hearings should continue to be held “in camera”, meaning members of the public cannot attend the hearing.

  • Three Appeal Commissioners should be appointed on a full time basis and prohibited from undertaking any other work duties not related to the post.

  • Temporary Appeal Commissioners should be appointed who can act as ‘expert members’ and assist a permanent Appeal Commissioners on a case by case basis. A panel of experts could be established from which to choose a temporary Appeal Commissioner.

  • The name ‘Office of the Appeal Commissioners’ should be changed.

  • Office of the Appeal Commissioners should be responsible for its own staffing.

  • Procedures for an appeal should be clear and straightforward so that any member of the public would be able to submit an appeal.

  • If the ruling in one case may affect other cases in the future, then two appeal commissioners should be authorised to hear the case at the request of either party.

  • Processes and guidelines should be developed to minimise delays.

  • Revenue should be obliged to provide the taxpayer with detailed reasoning for their assessment.

  • An official and transparent system should be implemented for the appointment and removal of Appeal Commissioners. An eligible candidate should have at least ten years experience in law or taxation. Appeal Commissioners should serve a term of seven years with a maximum of two terms of service.

  • Rulings should be made public while still protecting the identity of the tax payer.

  • The current system of paying the tax when the appeal process has concluded should continue.

  • The ITI agrees with the Department of Finance's proposed ‘Three Stage Process’. This allows tax payers to have their appeal heard in a District Court rather than going straight to the High Court which would be very costly and may deter taxpayers from launching an appeal.

  • Cases should be heard in a specialised District Court by an experienced judge.

  • A separate forum should be established for cases where the consideration is below €50,000.

Revenue also participated in the public consultation process regarding this matter and have conflicting views on a number of key areas. In their view

  • Hearings should be held “in curia” where members of the public can attend the hearing.

  • Rulings should be published on a discretionary basis.

  • Payment or repayment of tax should be made at the end of each stage of the appeal process.

  • Finally, Revenue favours the ‘Two Stage Process’ where cases would go directly to the High Court after a hearing by an Appeal Commissioner.

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