The Finance (Tax Appeals) Act established the Tax Appeals Commission. It provides for membership and functions, appointment and terms and conditions of the individual Appeal Commissioner.

The Commission is to comprise members known as Appeal Commissioners. They are to be appointed by the Minister. The Commission’s functions may be performed by its staff under the authority of the Commissioner. The Commissioners may adopt their own rules and procedure in carrying out their functions.

Functions may be carried out by the Commissioners individually unless the rules or procedure provide otherwise. The Commissioners are to be appointed from amongst persons recommended by the public. Commissioners are appointed for seven years. They are to serve no more than two consecutive terms.

The Minister for Finance may appoint a Circuit Court judge as a temporary Commissioner, where full-time Commissioners has been excused from determining an appeal because of a conflict of interest. The Commission and its members are to be independent in the performance of its functions. They are to excuse themselves from acting where they do not feel they can act impartially in a particular matter.

Commissioners may be removed from office only on the basis of misbehavior, ill health, inability to perform functions. A statement of removal must be laid before the Dáil. The Minister for Finance may remove a Commissioner for specified reasons.

The Appeals Commission, the Commissioners have its own staff appointed on terms and in numbers determined by the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure.

The legislation makes transitional provisions from the old appeal process to the new appeal process. Appeals already made on the commencement process.

The transitional provisions apply differently, apply depending on the stage at which the appeal under the old system is pending at the date of commencement of the legislation.

The existing appeal system becomes redundant as stages of the appeal process, subject to transitional arrangements, are determined. A single type of appeal mechanism applies regardless of the tax or duty. The legislation allows functions to be performed electronically.

There are provisions for taking appeals to agents which will be the normal course. An appellant who wishes to nominate an agent must notify the Appeal Commissioners in writing and provide information in relation to the agent. The appointment of the agent may be revoked and the Appeal Commissioners must be notified in writing.

The Appeal Commissioners may give directions to be appellants and the Revenue Commissioners in relation to how they must act in the course of appeal proceeding. Parties may apply to the Appeal Commissioners for a direction.

Directions may relate to such matter as provision of specified information, consolidating multiple appeals, holding preliminary hearings and adjourning proceedings. Party seeking a direction must submit a written request to the Appeals Commissioner.

Parties must comply with a direction. Failure to do so may result in the dismissal of the appeal. The Appeal Commissioners may make other persons other than the appellant a party to the appeal. This may be done where the decision may affect the tax liability of other persons. For example, where there is an apportionment of liability between persons or it directly impacts others.

A party withdrawing an appeal must notify the Appeal Commissioners who must notify the other party. An appeal is treated as dismissed where a settlement is reached by agreement, where the Appeal Commissioners refuse to accept an appeal or there is the failure to attend. However, this does not affect the terms of a settlement agreement. The Appeal Commissioners need not make a determination where the matter is settled by agreement, withdrawn, or dismissed.

Appeal Commissioners are to endeavor to conduct proceedings in as informal and flexible manner as possible. They are to facilitate assessment of appeals by agreement and to avoid undue delay in dealing with appeals. This is not to be at the expense of giving proper consideration to the matter under appeal.

An appeal is made by giving written notice of acceptance of appeal to the Appeal Commissioner. Certain details must be furnished. A copy of the notification by Revenue, particulars of the parties, tax reference numbers, grounds of appeal.

Conditions of appeal which may include submission of tax returns must be complied with. The Appeal Commissioners decide whether or not to accept the appeal based on facts and information furnished. They may reverse their decision when different facts and information come to hand.

The Appeal Commissioners are to send a copy of each notice of appeal to the Revenue after they receive a valid notice of appeal. Revenue may send a written notice of objection, giving reason for objections in relation to acceptance of an invalid or late appeal. They must do so within 30 days. They must notify objection to the appeal.

The Appeal Commissioners must accept an appeal at the end of the 30 day period where notification of objection to the acceptance of the appeal, where they have no reason to believe that the appeal is not a valid appeal. This is not binding where the Appeal Commissioners form the review at a later stage that the appeal is not a valid appeal.

Appeal Commissioners may refuse to accept an appeal where they consider is not to be valid or to be without substance or foundation, even if they have accepted the appeal. Where the Appeal Commissioners refuse an appeal, they must state their reason for the refusal.

A late appeal may be accepted within 12 months after the date allowed. There must be sufficient grounds such as illness, absence, or other reasonable cause justifying the failure to make the appeal within the requisite time period, generally 30 days.

The Appeal Commissioners may make the appropriate inquiries, they consider necessary. They may hold a preliminary hearing in relation to accepting a late appeal or otherwise.

Certain information must be provided by the parties in order to facilitate the adjudication of the matter under appeal. The Appeal Commissioners may direct the party to provide a statement of case after the appeal is accepted. Legislation sets out non-exhaustively information that a party may be directed to provide.

This includes statutory provisions, case law, outline of relevant facts. Party may be directed to indicate whether there is scope for settling the matter by agreement, whether the matter could be heard without holding a hearing, or whether a public or private hearing is sought.

A person who sent the statement of a case to the Appeal Commissioners must also send it to the other parties.

The Appeal Commissioners may direct one or both parties to provide additional information to a statement of case and to send a copy of the information to the other party. The additional information is an outline of the argument that the party intends to make at the hearing. A direction may impose a 40 day time limit, immediately prior to the date of hearing, for provision of information.

There is provision for holding preliminary hearings. The purpose is generally to progress the matters to the stage of full hearing. However, the Appeal Commissioners may determine the matter under appeal at a preliminary hearing.

They may direct the parties to attend preliminary hearing. The primary purpose of the hearing is to review how the appeal proceedings are progressing and secure expeditious and fair completion of the proceedings (swap order around).

The Appeal Commissioners may adjudicate the matter of the appeal on the basis of written and oral submissions without the need to hold a hearing. It may where the parties agree, dispense with the holding of a hearing, to adjudicate on a matter under appeal and instead deal with the matter on the basis of written submissions or discussions with the parties. Commissioners must notify the parties of their proposal to adjudicate on the matter without a hearing.

The Commissioners must hold a hearing where they receive a written request from a party to this effect within 21 days, after notification of the Commissioner’s proposal to dispense with holding a hearing.

An appeal is withdrawn where the parties come to an agreement before the hearing is held. The agreement must be in writing. If not in writing, when made, it must be confirmed in writing between the parties. A period of 21 days is allowed for reflection on the agreement and possible repudiation.

Revenue is to give effect to an agreement and to notify the Appeal Commissioners that the agreement is reached.

The Commissioners may stay proceedings for various reasons. In particular, this may be to allow parties to prepare for hearing or allow determination to be made in a separate appeal that raises common issues.

The Appeal Commissioners are to arrange hearings and notify parties of the location and time of hearing. They may adjourn scheduled hearings.

The hearings may be held in private in certain circumstances. This is where there are overriding issues of public order, national security, sensitive information, protection of a person’s right to respect for his or her private or family life or the interest of justice so require. An appellant may request a private hearing within 14 days of notification.

The Appeal Commissioners may exclude certain persons from the hearing including disruptive persons and those who may hinder, persons under 18 giving evidence. A witness may be excluded from the hearing until he is required to give evidence.

An appellant is required to attend a hearing unless he is excused from attendance by the Appeal Commissioner. An appeal is withdrawn where the appellant or his representatives failed to attend unless the Commissioners are satisfied the reason for non-attendance was due to absence, illness or other reasonable cause. The application is made as soon as possible after the reasons for non-attendance has ceased.

The Appeals Commissioner must hear a barrister, solicitor, accounting or tax practitioner representing party. They may hear another person notwithstanding that he does not fall into this category.

The Commissioners have discretion to allow oral or written evidence. They may adopt a more informal approach in relation to taking of evidence. They may exclude certain evidence, for example, which is not given in a timely manner or in the manner requested.

Giving of false evidence has the same consequences of perjury and civil proceedings in court. Witness may be summonsed and required to give evidence. Person summonsed must be given at least 21 days notice of the hearing. They must be given notice of entitlement to object to the summons or have its terms varied. Failure to comply with the summons is subject to a penalty.

The Appeal Commissioners may make all determinations at the conclusion of the hearing but this must be followed by a written determination.

The Appeal Commissioners when adjudicating and determining appeal must take account of the same matters that the Revenue is required to take account of in relation to the matter under appeal.

Appeal Commissioners have discretion to determine the appeal to the best of their judgments in circumstances persons fail to comply with directions to provide information and documentation. They may choose to dismiss the appeal.

The Appeal Commissioners are to make a determination as soon as possible practicable after they have completed their adjudication.

An odd number of Appeal Commissioners must adjudicate on the matter. If there are three or more commissioners, the adjudication is by majority.

Appeal Commissioners must notify their determination within 21 days after the determination is made and provide information in relation to an appeal against that determination.

The Appeal Commissioners may determine that the original assessment is to be reduced, increased or unchanged.

Commissioners may confine their determination to increasing or reducing the amount to be assessed as chargeable while leaving the amount taxed, charged as unstated.

Where the Appeal Commissioners determine the revenue was outside the four-year time limit for making an assessment, it may render the assessment void so that the assessment is deemed not to have been made.

Revenue must give effect to the Appeal Commissioner’s determination unless the matter is appealed to the High Court on a point of law. Revenue must calculate the tax to be charged by an assessment, where the Appeal Commissioners determine the amount chargeable only.

An assessment is to stand or should stand as amended, as a result of an Appeal Commissioner’s determination, is final and conclusive unless appeal to the High Court on a point of law.

There are provisions for appeals of determination involving matters that are common to more than one appeal. The Appeal Commissioners may take account of a previous determination in determining a subsequent appeal that raises common issues and may determine the subsequent appeal without holding a hearing as if they consider appropriate to do so.

In such event, the Appeal Commissioners must give the parties a copy of the previous determination, suitably redacted if necessary and allow them the opportunity if they do not agree with the proposal to deal with it on the basis of common issues to persuade the Appeal Commissioners if it would not be appropriate to take a previous determination into account in the particular appeal.

The Appeal Commissioners are to publish a report of the determination on the internet within 90 days after notification to the party. This is to include a copy of the determination, the date, whether it was appealed and other information, the Appeal Commissioners considered relevant. The requirement to publish is relaxed in certain cases.

The Appeal Commissioners are insofar as possible to publish a report in a way that conceals the identity of the person whose affairs were treated as confidential in the conduct of an appeal or where the appeal was heard in private.

Parties may appeal to the High Court on a point of law. Grants are restricted to case where the parties believe the Commissioners erred in relation to a matter, point of law and not in relation to fact. Parties are required to send written notice to the Appeal Commissioners requiring them to prepare a case stated.

The notice requesting a case stated it is to state how the parties consider the determination to have erred in law. The particular point of law must be identified, must be sent to the Appeal Commissioners within 21 days after the parties have received the determination. It is to be sent by the party requesting the case stated.

The case stated must set out the facts as found by the Appeal Commissioners, their determinations and the reasons for the determination and the point of law on which the High Court is to give its opinion. The Appeal Commissioners draft the case stated. Parties are given an opportunity to make representations in relation to the draft. There is a three month time limit from the date requesting the case stated until completion of the signed case stated.

A party who he has requested a case stated must send the completed and signed case stated to the High Court, within 14 days commencing on the date on which case stated was sent to the party by the Appeal Commissioner.

The High Court is to hear and determine the question of law in the case stated. It may reverse, affirm or amend the Appeal Commissioner’s determination. It may remit the matter to the Appeal Commissioners with his opinion on the determination and make any other order it considers appropriate including an order as to costs.

There is a penalty of up to €5000 on a person who fails to comply with summons to attend a hearing or refuses to swear an oath or answer questions. There is an exception in respect of an employee or an agent, subject to a duty of confidentiality.

The Appeal Commissioner may dismiss an appeal where the appellant has failed to comply with the directions to provide information. Before dismissing an appeal, the Appeal Commissioners must give the appellant notice of the proposed dismissal and reasons and consider any objections.

The legislation amends numerous pieces of tax legislation to incorporate the new system of appeals into the various Taxes Act.

The legislation provides for the right of direct appeal to the Appeal Commissioners and not to Revenue as under the previous system. Provides express rights of appeal through various pieces of legislation, rectify certain anomalies and inconsistencies. Provides a standardised period of appeal.


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