Code of Practice for Revenue Audits/Queries
Revenue have recently published the updated Code of Practice for Revenue Compliance Interventions and an updated compliance intervention framework. These changes took effect from 01 May 2022.
Code of Practice for Revenue Audits/Queries
Revenue’s previous compliance intervention framework was made up of non-audit interventions, audit interventions and investigations. With effect 01 May 2022, the previous framework was replaced by a new framework which comprises three graduated levels, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. The objective of Level 1 of this framework is to support compliance, whereas the objective of Level 2 and Level 3 is to confront non-compliance.
A Level 1 intervention occurs where Revenue has not already engaged in any detailed examination of a taxpayer. Examples of Level 1 interventions include:
When notified of a Level 1 intervention, a taxpayer can still make an unprompted qualifying disclosure and self-correct tax returns (if within the required timeline). Unprompted qualifying disclosures cannot be made at any level other than Level 1. Revenue have indicated that standard information requests would generally be classed as Level 1 interventions. This includes for example VAT verification check letters seeking supporting information on refund claims and the standard questionnaire for R&D Tax Credit claims. Profile interviews are also classified as being a Level 1 intervention.
A Level 2 intervention occurs where Revenue has identified risk or risks in respect of a taxpayer.
There are 2 types of Level 2 interventions:
Taxpayers (and agents if applicable) will be notified in writing by Revenue of a Level 2 intervention. The notice will also clarify whether the intervention is a risk review or an audit. The rules relating to Revenue audits have generally remained unchanged in the updated code. Risk Reviews are a new concept.
A risk review will operate in a similar manner as an aspect query under the previous code. A risk review will be a focused intervention that relates to a particular item/issue in a tax return. For example, a review of rental income relating to a 2020 Income tax return. These reviews will typically be desk-based. The main difference between a Risk Review and an Aspect Query is once a taxpayer has been notified of a Level 2 intervention, they will no longer be able to make an unprompted qualifying disclosure or self-correct tax returns. Taxpayers will still have the opportunity to make a prompted qualifying disclosure.
Taxpayers will now have 21 days to notify Revenue if they intend to make a prompted qualifying disclosure and all issues under the tax head and period in question will need to be reviewed before the prompted disclosure is submitted to Revenue.
The risk review will bring about the biggest change and challenge for taxpayers and agents under the new code.
A Level 3 intervention occurs where Revenue has identified cases displaying risks of suspected fraud and tax evasion. Level 3 interventions are in the form of Revenue Investigations, the process of which largely remains unchanged. Taxpayers will be notified of a Level 3 intervention in writing or in certain cases with an unannounced visit. Revenue may also carry out investigations without notifying the taxpayer in writing.
As in the previous code, when notified of a Level 3 intervention, a taxpayer will no longer be able to make a prompted qualifying disclosure.
The updated code published by Revenue in February also introduced a number of notable changes to their code of practice for Revenue Compliance Interventions. These changes will have a significant impact on how taxpayers approach their tax compliance.
Under the new code, a taxpayer must notify Revenue in writing of any self-correction being made. For example, when a company files a corporation tax return based on draft accounts and subsequently files an amended corporation tax return, there is a requirement to notify Revenue that the return is being self-corrected. This notification in writing will have to be submitted separately to the amended tax return.
The deadline for submitting a notice of intention to make a prompted qualifying disclosure to Revenue has increased from 14 days to 21 days.
The time to prepare for a Revenue audit has increased from 21 days to 28 days.
The option to make an unprompted qualifying disclosure is only available under Level 1 of the updated framework.
The difference between a prompted and unprompted disclosure is there is a reduction in the penalty amount when a taxpayer makes an unprompted disclosure instead of a prompted disclosure.
The threshold for publication of taxpayers in default has been increased from €35,000 to €50,000. Previously the €35,000 threshold included the total settlement combined with any interest and penalties. The updated threshold of €50,000 includes the tax settlement only and ignores the interest and penalties.
The intention of the new code of practice is to encourage taxpayers to regularly self-review their tax affairs to ensure they remain tax compliant. The biggest challenge for taxpayers under the new code is the introduction of the risk review under Level 2 of the new framework. It remains to be seen how the new code of practice will be implemented from a practical point of view.
If you have any questions in relation to the above, or if you would like to discuss this topic further, please contact a member of the Mazars corporate tax team below:
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