Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Questions (164)

Seán Fleming


164. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance the number of cases before the Tax Appeals Commission; the quantum in euro terms of the amount with the commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21646/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

There were 3,585 appeals on hand before the Tax Appeals Commission (TAC) as at 30 April, 2019. I am advised by the TAC that it is difficult to provide an actual quantum figure because the original quantum of tax under appeal may be modified post filing of the notice of appeal (i.e. where an aspect of the appeal is settled or withdrawn), the parties may disagree in relation to the precise quantum of tax in dispute, or the monetary value of an appeal is not always calculable (e.g. in appeals where the rate of tax is in dispute or where the quantum in dispute represents a refusal of loss relief or of deductions or in appeals in relation to the refusal of Tax Clearance Certificates).  Subject to these caveats, as at 30 April, 2019 the TAC recorded the quantum of tax under appeal amounting to approximately €3.7 billion. Of this amount, €2.5 billion is comprised in 10 appeals, five of which were received by the TAC in the last week of December 2018.

Some appeals before the TAC cannot be progressed when the Commission has to await the outcome of court proceedings.  For example, a stay may have been placed on the progression of the appeals by the TAC by Order of the High Court, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court. Of the 10 highest-value appeals before the TAC, two appeals with a combined value of €1.67 billion are currently stayed by Court Order and cannot be progressed by the TAC until the stays are lifted.

In view of the growing backlog of appeals, I commissioned an independent review of the workload and operations of the TAC in 2018.  In line with the review's recommendations, I sanctioned the doubling of the TAC’s annual budget in 2019, to allow for additional staffing resources at all levels and additional funding for improved ICT systems. In June 2018 the TAC moved to a new, larger premises that allow for the scheduling of simultaneous hearings, to ensure greater and more efficient use of Commissioner’s time. This is resulting in a reduction in the time parties have to wait for their appeal to be heard. 

In addition, a Public Appointments Service competition for the recruitment of Temporary Appeal Commissioners was completed recently and appointments from the resulting panel are expected shortly. Legislation is also in progress to create the role of Chairperson of the TAC, as per a recommendation of the independent review.

With the substantial increase in resources at the TAC, I expect the overall number of appeals and the quantum of tax under appeal with the TAC to begin to decrease steadily over the coming year.