Appeals body wants more resources

By Seán McCárthaigh

The body which oversees disputes over tax demands by Revenue has expressed concern about its ability to deal with cases following a near doubling in new appeals.

New figures show a total of 1,751 new cases were submitted to the Tax Appeals Commission (TAC) in 2017, compared to 901 the previous year.

The appeals commissioners, Mark O’Mahony and Lorna Gallagher, said the increase was ‘striking’.

They also claimed the level of new appeals has continued to increase so far in 2018, with an average of 150 new cases each month. Almost half of all new cases relate to disputes over income tax.

“It is now abundantly clear from the figures available that the workload of the TAC is of an order of magnitude greater than previously anticipated,” they said.

The TAC said it was not adequately resourced at the moment, despite an increase in staff numbers last year.

It said the drafting of determinations required a lot of time and exacting attention to detail, as well as very careful deliberation, on top of hearing appeals which could take days and sometimes weeks.

It has called for greater resources to tackle its growing caseload.

The commissioners said the issue of TAC’s resources needed to be addressed “as a matter of urgency” as it had over 5,000 cases on hand during the course of last year with only 693 cases closed.

The commission said it was conscious that not only did all parties have an entitlement to hear their appeals determined in a timely and efficient manner but also that they could relate to extremely large sums of money.

The commission said one source had estimated the total amount in dispute in one year could be as high as €1.6bn.

The commissioners said it would be necessary to encourage alternative means of dispute resolution such as internal or external reviews of Revenue decisions.

Another possibility is to inform taxpayers and their advisors of previous determinations that dealt with the same issues under appeal.

They also suggested that suitably qualified case managers should been engaged to assist with pre-hearing resolution of appeals.

The commission said steps already taken to implement such measures, such as an increasing use of case management conference, had already been highly effective in managing and securing the early resolution of appeals.

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