I move recommendation No. 1:
In page 11, before section 1, to insert the following new section:
TAXPAYERS' ADVOCATE OFFICE
1.—The Ombudsman shall include in her annual report a special report on the overpayment of tax by PAYE taxpayers, and on the take up of credits by such taxpayers, and the branch of her office dedicated to ensuring that the take up of credits is readily available to all taxpayers, and refunds made as rapidly as possible where this arises, as well as ensuring the availability of a ready mechanism for informing taxpayers (particularly pensioners) who are entitled to a refund of DIRT tax, shall be known as the taxpayers' advocate office.".
This recommendation relates to a taxpayers' advocate office. We propose the establishment of a taxpayers' advocate who would be independent of the Revenue Commissioners and who would take cases independently on behalf of taxpayers and ensure these were dealt with in a fair and transparent manner.
The most effective way of obtaining tax refunds from the Revenue Commissioners in respect of many payments would be to introduce a method similar to that used with mortgage interest relief. In this regard, the way in which taxpayers get their money would be done centrally and would seem to work quite well after some initial teething problems. This would help to deal with a range of different refunds to which people are entitled, such as doctors' fees and bin charges. We are putting this proposal forward because it is a way of dealing with what is currently a cumbersome method by which taxpayers must apply to Revenue. A serious volume of money goes unclaimed.
We propose that such a process would be overseen by a taxpayers' advocate in such a way to help the Revenue Commissioners to overhaul the current cumbersome system. We hope the Minister would look favourably upon this and support the amendment.