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Irish Accountants Criticize Tax Agency's Latest Enforcement Drive

by Jason Gorringe, Tax-news.com, London

03 May 2017


A group representing Irish accountants has criticized Revenue's handling of taxpayer communications, claiming that clients are often "unnecessarily concerned that their tax returns are incorrect."

Paul Dillon, Chairman of The Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies – Ireland's (CCAB-I's) Tax Committee, raised the issue in a letter to Niall Cody, Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners.

The criticism concerns Revenue's recent advice letters to self-assessed taxpayers. Dillon said the CCAB-I understands that the letters were intended to inform taxpayers of the changes to the disclosure regime introduced in Finance Act 2016.

However, Dillon argued that the wording of the letter "appears to suggest to the taxpayer that there is something wrong with his/her tax return." He said that the "message that penal measures will apply to those with tax irregularities from offshore sources is confused with a suggestion that tax returns are incorrect."

Under Finance Act 2016, taxpayers will no longer be able to make a disclosure that would otherwise be considered a "qualifying disclosure" if that disclosure relates to "offshore matters." Those with liabilities relating to "offshore matters" could therefore be liable to higher penalty rates, the settlement could be published in the quarterly defaulters' list, and a criminal prosecution could be pursued.

The provision will apply to disclosures received by Revenue after 17:30 GMT on May 4, 2017.

Dillon said it was regrettable that Revenue had not discussed the letter with the relevant professional representative bodies ahead of its issue. "Consultation on the matter may have resulted in a more focused communication and less time wasting for self-assessed taxpayers who are in the majority tax compliant," he added.

TAGS: compliance | tax | tax compliance | Ireland | tax avoidance | tax incentives | tax authority | offshore | tax reform | Tax | Tax Evasion

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