I am advised by Revenue that there has been no change to the “four-year rule” for repayment claims, which is provided for in section 865 Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (TCA) and applies to claims made on or after 1 January 2005. There have been no substantive changes to the rule since its introduction. The four-year rule is not a matter of Revenue’s “willingness” or unwillingness to make repayments. Revenue is not permitted to make repayments outside the period provided for under statute.
Section 865 TCA covers repayments of income tax, corporation tax, capital gains tax, income levy, domicile levy and the universal social charge, as well as
- any interest, surcharge or penalty relating to the tax, levy or charge;
- any sum relating to a withdrawal of a relief or an exemption;
- sums required to be withheld and remitted to Revenue; and
- amounts paid on account of tax (for example, payments in excess of liability).
In general, all claims for repayment of tax must be submitted within four years of the end of the period to in which the tax liability arose, but a shorter period may apply if provided for by another provision of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997.
Specific entitlement to repayment of tax may arise under provisions of the Tax Acts other than section 865 TCA. These entitlements are unaffected by the general right to repayment in that section but all entitlements to repayment are subject to the rules relating to time limits in section 865. A four-year time limit for repayments is also provided for in other tax legislation.
Revenue’s power to raise or amend assessments, or make inquiries, is generally limited to no later than four years after the end of the chargeable period to which a tax return relates. However, this limit does not apply where a taxpayer has filed an incorrect return by reason of fraud or neglect, or if the taxpayer has failed to deliver a return when one should have been delivered. This is an important provision to combat and deter non-compliance.