We previously highlighted that a new Tax Appeals Commission would take over the management and processing of tax appeals in early 2016. As the Revenue Commissioners and the new Commission have updated guidance on this very important matter, we now summarise some useful points below which will hopefully assist practitioners in this area.
With effect from 21 March 2016, all new appeals will be made to the new Tax Appeals Commission (TAC) using a specific detailed form available on their website. Quite a lot of detail is required including, in particular, the amount of tax the grounds for appeal and the issues arising. It is important to note that anything NOT cited in the appeal application may not necessarily be admitted later by the Commission when the appeal is heard.
It is therefore advisable to include as much detail as possible and to include a copy of the relevant assessments and a signed Agent authorisation. The standard 30 day time limit applies as heretofore and again similar to the previous regime late appeals are possible though on an exceptional basis only.
The most important aspect of the appeal application is the section dealing with how a taxpayer wants the appeal to be heard. The new default rules are that appeals will be held in public unless a taxpayer opts for a hearing of all, or part of their case, in private.
On receipt of an appeal notice, the TAC will forward this to Revenue who will have 30 days to consider whether they object to its validity. If they do so object the tax payers only avenue of recourse is to seek a High Court judicial review of the Commissioners decision.
Where an appeal was in existence on 21 March 2016 but had not yet been referred to the new Commission, Revenue have a statutory obligation to do so as soon as possible. Before doing so however Revenue is required to notify the appellant that they intend to refer it to the Commission and to request that the appellant indicates whether he or she wishes to settle the appeal by agreement or to have it referred to the Commission instead.
This potentially allows for a window of opportunity for all “in progress” appeals to be discussed within a defined time window. Recent Revenue guidance suggests that Revenue will be writing to all taxpayers with appeals in progress on 21 March 2016, to ascertain if they wish to enter into dialogue with a view to settling cases before they proceed to the Commission. The taxpayer will have 30 days in which to respond and then a further 90 days will be allowed in which a potential settlement can be discussed.
At the time of writing it is anticipated that any unsettled cases will be transmitted to the Commission by the end of September 2016.
Under the previous appeal system a taxpayer who was unhappy with the outcome of an appeal could request a full rehearing in the Circuit Court. This is no longer available except in the case of appeals where at least an initial hearing had taken place before the Appeal Commissioners by 21 March 2016.
It can be seen that there are significant changes to the operation of appeals, not only in procedures, but also in substance in terms of the initial details to be supplied. The default legal basis is that in future, they will be heard in public instead of in private unless a taxpayer indicates otherwise.