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Hundreds Of Millions Of Euros In Tax Unclaimed Each Year, Reveals Irish Finance Committee

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

13 April 2007

In its Interim Report on the Under-Claiming of Tax Credits, Allowances and Relief by Taxpayers, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service revealed that hundreds of millions of Euros in tax credits and allowances go unclaimed each year because taxpayers are unaware of their entitlement, or are otherwise unwilling to enter into dealings with the Revenue Commission.

The report was launched at a press conference in Dublin on Wednesday, headed by Deputy Sean Fleming, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Finance & the Public Service, and attended by other members of the Committee.

In a statement, the Committee explained that:

"There are a myriad of allowances and tax credits available to the ordinary taxpayer. However the Committee is concerned that there are many thousands of taxpayers who, for a variety of reasons, are not receiving their full entitlements and consequently are paying more income tax than necessary."

"The report reviews some of the problems with the administration of the tax system and makes recommendations aimed at improving consumer information about tax allowances and encouraging taxpayers to claim their rightful entitlements under the tax code."

The Revenue responded somewhat snippily to the publication of the report, announcing that:

"Nobody should doubt Revenue's commitment to doing as much as possible to assist and encourage the public to claim all of the tax credits and reliefs that are due to them. We are fully committed to playing our part in this continuing effort, including implementation of the series of “Helping Taxpayers Claim” measures announced by the Minister for Finance in his Budget speech last December."

"The Committee Report in fact acknowledges that Revenue has already made very significant efforts in recent years to make what is a complex tax system more understandable and more accessible, particularly to PAYE taxpayers."

It concluded:

"The commitment of Revenue to the service dimension of our business (which includes giving reliefs and entitlements to all taxpayers) is just as strong and just as well resourced as the enforcement dimension of our business. This balanced approach is a fundamental element of our ethos."

Attempting to give some indication of the scale of Revenue contacts with the public last year, the Irish tax authority revealed that in 2006, it had handled:

  • Over six million phonecalls from taxpayers;
  • Over three million items of correspondence;
  • Over 900,000 personal callers;
  • Over one million PAYE employee reviews (an increase of over 80% from the previous year), and,
  • Over 11 million visits to its website.

Additionally in 2006, Revenue argued that it had launched an enhanced range of self-service facilities and contact channels, allowing PAYE taxpayers to claim tax credits, refunds and to otherwise “self-manage” their PAYE affairs using the internet, mobile texting and voice-recognition telephony.

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