I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that advance opinions are provided by Revenue to clarify the tax treatment of a proposed transaction or business activity under the relevant legislation so that taxpayers can file a correct tax return and comply fully with their tax obligations. Revenue opinions are non-binding and seek to provide a considered and consistent interpretation of the applicable tax rules as set down in the legislation.
Revenue’s practice in providing advance opinions to taxpayers is set out in published guidelines and tax briefings including, for example, the Guidelines on Revenue’s Technical Service to Practitioners and Business Taxpayers which are available on the Revenue website. As there is a wide range of taxation information on the Revenue website and in Revenue publications, there are relatively limited circumstances where a company or tax practitioner should require an opinion from Revenue in advance of a proposed transaction or business activity.
An advance opinion will be given by Revenue only where the issues are complex, the transaction is unusual, information is not readily available or there is genuine uncertainty in relation to the interpretation or application of the relevant tax rules. Revenue will give an advance opinion on the tax treatment of a proposed transaction or business activity based on the information provided by the company or its agent and having regard to the relevant tax legislation and published Revenue practice.
Based on data available for the past three years, Revenue estimates that on average 115 advance opinions are issued to companies each year on corporation tax issues. The data available does not distinguish between opinions provided for multinational companies and those provided for other companies.