Taxpayers unhappy with a decision of a tax inspector will no longer lodge an initial appeal with the Revenue Commissioners, instead going directly to a Tax Appeals Commission. The change is part of a major shake-up of the tax appeals system, which comes into force on Monday.
Under the new tax appeals system, the right of a taxpayer to have a full rehearing of a decision in the Circuit Court will also disappear. Both the taxpayer and the Revenue can still appeal to the High Court, but only on the basis they claim the Tax Appeals Commissioner has erred on a point of law in a decision.
The changes result from a Finance (Tax Appeals) Act signed into law last Christmas Day by President Michael D Higgins. Minister for Finance Michael Noonan signed a commencement order before the general election and the rules come into effect on March 21st.
Previously taxpayers appealed initially to the Revenue itself and then, if still unhappy, to an appeals commissioner. Now the appeal will go to the Tax Appeals Commission, an independent statutory body.
Two barristers, Lorna Gallagher and Mark O'Mahony, were appointed as commissioners. The original proposal was that appeals were to be held in public, but after a late change the legislation now allows a taxpayer to opt to have the case held in camera, and most are expected to do so.
There had been some uncertainty about cases held under the old appeals system which were not finalised. Provisions in the legislation deal with this, allowing the new commissioners to state cases for the High Court, or seek direction when the High Court in contentious cases.