MAKING IT EASY TO PAY YOUR TAXES!
The Revenue Commissioners are bending over backwards to make it as easy as possible for firms to pay their taxes it seems, moving more and more services online and accommodating struggling firms who are finding it difficult to service their tax bills, according to a report in The Sunday Business Post.
“We are moving into our third phase, where we will be introducing mandatory electronic returns,” said Margaret Whelan at the Revenue. “In some instances you won’t be able to make paper returns any more. We’ve already rolled that out to large public bodies and companies. The phase we are currently in is all companies. We want to make it the normal way of conducting tax business.
“Our goal would always be to maximise the use of electronic filing. But anything we do would always be in consultation with various interested bodies. For example, our next step is relevant contracts tax for the construction sector. That is being moved to electronic filing this year. But we are doing that in conjunction with the Construction Industry Federation, software companies and accountancy bodies.”
The Revenue recognises healthy firms are experiencing short-term difficulties and has a policy designed to assist them. There is a “case decision escalation framework to assist taxpayers” but it works best when a company approaches the Revenue early to state its case. The process is not designed to allow companies avoid tax but to assist them in making payments as early as possible.
“We have to move to balance the people who have genuine temporary difficulties, but safeguard the integrity of the tax system at the same time,” Whelan said. “We do have to decide which people don’t have a viable business. Sometimes tough decisions have to be made. The challenge for us is to get the balance right and protect the compliant by pursuing the non-compliant.”
The Revenue is vowing to crack down hard this year on those operating in the so-called “shadow economy”. In this, it has the full co-operation of the Department of Social Protection and the National Employment Rights Authority.
“Last year we focused on sectors such as entertainment, restaurants, beauty salons, head shops and taxis,” Whelan said. “We have another project that we refer to as ‘Streetscape’ – we visit every business on a street or in a market. We go in and check the number of employees, look at the stock levels and cash register management and the follow up as required.”
“Our mission is to serve the community fairly and efficiently collecting tax and duties,” Whelan said. “Our main challenge is to give business the assurance that they are being treated fairly and that everyone can compete on a level playing field that isn’t being distorted by fraud, evasion or artificial schemes of tax avoidance.
“It is important we make things as easy as possible for those who want to do business with us, but equally as difficult as possible for those who don’t”.