Dozens of ma­jor firms seek new tax rul­ings af­ter Ap­ple de­ci­sion

Rev­enue re­quires re­newals of tax opin­ions due to new five year cut-off rule

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE - Sa­man­tha Mc­caugh­ren

DOZENS of Ire­land’s largest com­pa­nies are await­ing key tax de­ci­sions from Rev­enue af­ter the tax au­thor­ity in­tro­duced new rules lim­it­ing the life­time of its opin­ions to five years.

As emerged in the EU’S Ap­ple rul­ing, Rev­enue gives opin­ions as to how it in­ter­prets tax leg­is­la­tion, pro­vid­ing cer­tainty on com­plex cor­po­rate tax af­fairs.

How­ever, Rev­enue has said that all opin­ions given prior to Jan­uary 2012 can­not be re­lied on any longer and must be re­newed. Ap­pli­ca­tions for re­newals were re­quired by June of this year.

New fig­ures from Rev­enue re­veal that there have been 60 ap­pli­ca­tions for re­newals of opin­ions, 46 of which are in its Large Cases Di­vi­sion. This deals with com­pa­nies which have a turnover of over €162m a year, such as multi­na­tion­als and ma­jor em­ploy­ers. The di­vi­sion also deals with 500 high net worth in­di­vid­u­als.

A third of the re­newals be­ing sought re­late to cor­po­ra­tion tax. New in­ter­pre­ta­tions on Vat and in­come tax are also be­ing sought.

There are fears the re­newed opin­ions will re­flect a more con­ser­va­tive ap­proach taken by Rev­enue since the Ap­ple rul­ing, a claim that Rev­enue re­jects.

There are also claims that an ex­o­dus of older, ex­peri- enced Rev­enue staff is re­sult­ing in a more cau­tious ap­proach to opin­ions given to com­pa­nies.

A Rev­enue spokesman said: “It is im­por­tant to note that it has al­ways been the case that an opin­ion will only re­main valid for so long as the facts and cir­cum­stances on which it is based have not changed and the rel­e­vant leg­is­la­tion and prac­tice re­main in place.”

Change to the time limit on opin­ions was in­tro­duced on foot of a Rev­enue board re­view and was an­nounced dur­ing a Dail De­bate in Septem­ber 2016, shortly af­ter the Ap­ple rul­ing was an­nounced.

At a meet­ing be­tween tax prac­ti­tion­ers and Rev­enue ear­lier this year, the mat­ter of in­dus­try-wide opin­ions was raised with the ex­am­ple of the Rev­enue opin­ions on air­craft leas­ing.

Rev­enue con­firmed in­dus­try-wide rul­ings were also sub­ject to the five-year rule.

Brian Kee­gan, di­rec­tor of public pol­icy and tax­a­tion at Char­tered Ac­coun­tants Ire­land, said: “Rev­enue are in­creas­ingly good at deal­ing with rou­tine mat­ters. Any­thing out of the or­di­nary at all, they are not.

“It comes down to a skills short­age, re­tire­ment and also that, since the Ap­ple de­ci­sion, and with­out prej­u­dice to whether that de­ci­sion is right or wrong, there is a greater in­stinct for cau­tion there.”

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