Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Ceisteanna (88, 89)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

88. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 180 and 181 of 15 January 2019, the number of cases in which inappropriate use of section 949AG of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 occurred; the percentage of cases this represented in each of the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4515/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

89. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the number of Circuit Court appeals lodged by the appellant in tax appeals cases in 2012 and 2013; the percentage of cases heard at appeal in the same period this represented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4516/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 88 and 89 together.

Section 949AG of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (which was inserted by the Finance (Tax Appeals) Act 2015) was identified by Revenue and the Tax Appeals Commission ("TAC") as being interpreted, in a small number of instances, as applying in all situations and as conferring the right on appellants to require the TAC to require disclosure of all of Revenue’s documentation on a particular taxpayer or matter, regardless of whether the Commissioners considered that this was required to determine the particular appeal or not. Revenue have advised me that "a small number of instances" refers to no more than 10-15 cases.

For the deputy's reference, 901 appeals were received by the TAC in 2016, 1,751 appeals in 2017 and 1,680 in 2018. Thus, instances where section 949AG was considered to be used inappropriately account for less than 1% of the total cases received by the TAC in the period from its establishment to year end 2018. However the Deputy will be aware that only a minority of cases proceed to a full hearing and determination.

Legislative change in respect of section 949AG was raised by and discussed with both the Appeal Commissioners and Revenue. Both parties indicated that they had no objection to the deletion of section 949AG. Their view was that the removal of the section (as well as a consequential amendment to section 669 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, to re-insert a provision which was removed when section 949AG was originally enacted) would address the concern identified while not adversely affecting the TAC's ability to require the provision of information as needed.

The current legislation provides the TAC with a wide range of other powers to require Revenue and appellants to supply information to assist the Appeal Commissioners in their adjudication and determination of an appeal. It is considered that these powers are sufficiently extensive to allow for the effective operation of the appeals process. However, the removal of section 949AG precludes any assertion that it should apply in all situations, even in those where there is no statutory requirement for the Appeal Commissioners to have regard to the same matters to which Revenue was required to have regard.

I am advised by Revenue that it previously provided information on the number of appeals made to the Circuit Court, and decisions given by that Court, in the years 2012 and 2013 to the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform. The information was provided as part of the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Finance (Tax Appeals) Bill 2015 conducted by that Committee on 27 January 2015. After that meeting, Revenue provided some follow-up information in writing to the Committee and its letter of 13 February 2015 included the following statistics in relation to appeals to the Circuit Court:

Circuit Court Decisions:

Year

Total Appealed to Circuit Court

Total Decisions

For Revenue

% of Decisions

For Taxpayer

% of Decisions

Ongoing

Settled/Withdrawn

2013

28

7

6

86%

1

14%

13

8

2012

33

19

17

89%

2

11%

3

11

Total

61

26

23

88%

3

12%

16

19

At the time, Revenue also estimated that the Appeal Commissioners made 110 determinations in 2012 and 118 determinations in 2013 (228 in total). However, it is not possible to say how many cases were heard (but not determined) by the Appeal Commissioners in those years.

The Deputy may wish to note that Section 27(4) of the Finance (Tax Appeals) Act 2015 preserved the right of some appellants to appeal to the Circuit Court in certain circumstances in respect of existing appeals following the establishment of the TAC. To date one appeal has been appealed to the Circuit Court in accordance with this provision. The Circuit Court upheld the TAC’s determination.

Question No. 90 answered with Question No. 86.