Thursday, 28 November 2019
Finance Bill (Tax Appeals and Prospectus Regulation) Bill 2019: Second Stage
I thank the Minister of State. He will be pleased to hear this is a Bill I very much welcome.
The Bill deals primarily, as the Minister of State said, with the two issues of tax appeal and prospectus regulation. Section 5 amends section 4 of the Finance (Tax Appeals) Act 2015, which itself established the Tax Appeals Commission to replace the Office of Appeals Commission. This is important because of the increased number of tax appeals being made. It is worth noting that in 2018, the Tax Appeals Commission closed 1,440 appeals and the amount of tax involved was €560 million.
The appeals process, as was said, can often be slow, legalistic and increasingly bureaucratic. I would support whatever can be done to sharpen that up to get rid of some of the bureaucracy so that decisions can be made quicker because there is not only financial stress, but all of the other stress, involved.The Bill will provide the chairperson with a specific responsibility to ensure the integrity of the commission's financial and accounting reporting systems, which is important. Additionally, the chairperson will ensure the compliance with freedom of information and data protection law.
I will not say much more. We will be examining it on Committee Stage, and I understand the rationale behind the amendments. However, it is important that these provisions do not excessively impede the ability of the taxpayer to appeal the determination by the Tax Appeals Commission to the High Court in good faith and with justification. We will look at that on Committee Stage.
While we are looking at tax appeals, we have to look also at the Apple appeal. The new chairperson who comes in will be wondering why we are doing that. I will ask the Minister of State just one question. How much have we spent on the appeal in the Apple case?