Revenue changes give taxpayers new appeals route

Those unhappy with a decision will no longer appeal in first instance to the Revenue

Michael Noonan, Minister for Finance: he announced  he would reform the tax appeals process in Budget 2014. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Michael Noonan, Minister for Finance: he announced he would reform the tax appeals process in Budget 2014. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

A major shake-up of the system for appealing against Revenue Commissioners’ decisions is to take place, after the President signed new legislation on the issue into law on Christmas Day.

The change will mean that taxpayers unhappy with a decision will no longer appeal in the first instance to the Revenue, but will go directly into the new appeals system.

In future, tax appeals will be heard in public, unless the taxpayer requests that it be held in private.

The original Bill had included provisions that would have meant most cases would have been heard in public.

However, tax accountants and lawyers and their professional bodies complained that this would have discouraged many people from taking appeals.

The final legislation allows taxpayers to opt to have an appeal held in private – a right that most are likely to avail of.

The results of appeals will be published within 90 days of the decision being made. Previously no decisions were published.

Personal details

The legislation provides for the establishment of a tax appeals commission, a new body that will formalise the existing structure and set out terms for the appointment of commissioners.

It will in future be the first port of call for disgruntled taxpayers, who will no longer appeal initially directly to an appeals mechanism within the Revenue Commissioners, as happens at the moment.

The Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, announced that he would reform the tax appeals process in Budget 2014 and that the measures to do this were contained in the Finance (Tax Appeals) Bill 2015.

Appointed

Public Appointments Commission

It is understood that he will shortly announce the appointment of another barrister, Lorna Gallagher, as a second commissioner.

The legislation removes the current right of taxpayers to appeal a decision of the appeals commissioner to the Circuit Court.

In future appeals can only be made on a “point of law” to the High Court.

This means taxpayers can only appeal on the basis that the commissioner erred in interpreting a legal provision, rather than at the moment when an appeal on the decision is allowed to the Circuit Court.