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The new appeals process and opportunities for taxpayers

The new Finance (Tax Appeals) Act 2015 came into effect on 21 March 2016. The act brought significant changes to the tax appeals system.

All appeals made on or after 21 March 2016 are made directly to the Tax Appeals Commission, previously the appeal was made directly to Revenue.

There are transitional measures included in the Act for appeals which have commenced pre 21 March 2016. The general rule is that where one or more steps has been taken under the old system such appeals will be transferred to the corresponding stage in the new system.

If you have an open appeal currently in the system you should receive a letter from Revenue shortly offering you the opportunity to enter into settlement negotiations. If you agree to enter settlement negotiations you will have 90 days to negotiate with Revenue. If at the end of the 90 days the case has not been settled it will be transferred to the Tax Appeals Commission.

If a taxpayer decides not to enter into settlement negotiations the case will be automatically transferred to the Tax Appeals Commission.

If you are a taxpayer involved in the current appeals process you should strongly consider entering negotiations with Revenue. In order to reduce the backlog of cases currently in the appeals system, which is estimated at several thousand, it is expected that Revenue may be disposed to settling cases where possible. All negotiations should be carried out on a “without prejudice” basis and if successful may ultimately result in lower costs, interest and penalties than if your case was unsuccessful on appeal.

Taxpayers currently involved in the appeals process or those considering taking an appeal should be aware of the following key changes under the new appeals process:

  • appeals are to be made in writing directly to the Tax Appeals Commission;
  • the time limit for making an appeal has been standardised to 30 days for all tax heads;
  • removal of the right of appeal to the Circuit Court;
  • the default position is that appeal hearings will be held in public unless the taxpayer requests, within the relevant timeframe, that the hearing be held in private;
  • within 90 days of the Commissioner notifying the parties of their determination the commissioners are required to publish a report of their determinations online; and
  • under the new process Revenue may give evidence in support of increasing an assessment.