Pensions ombudsman to highlight possible tax offences
IRELAND - The Pensions Ombudsman has stated information relating to possible tax offences uncovered through its own inquiries will be passed to the Irish Revenue Commissioners under a new memorandum of understanding.
The document sets out the procedures for exchanging information between the organisations, with the expectation that any formally requested information would be provided within a period of one month, unless an alternative date is agreed.
The memorandum also sets out guidelines for disclosure when "information comes to the attention of either authority which suggests the commission of an offence under the Tax Acts or the Pensions Acts".
It confirmed this information would be provided on a voluntary basis, rather than a legal requirement, though it also states "where the Pensions Ombudsman has reason to believe that a breach of the Code of Practice outlined in the Revenue Pensions Manual has taken place or may be about to take place, he shall immediately notify the Revenue Commissioners".
Paul Kenny, the Pensions Ombudsman, pointed out in the course of investigations into complaints he can receive information which might suggest a tax offence has been committed and it is "very important such information be made available to the relevant authority".
He highlighted his office investigates complaints relating to financial losses received as a result of maladministration of pensions, and once a determination is made it can only be appealed to the high court.
However, he warned: "If my investigations suggest that activities by individuals or companies may constitute an offence under the Tax Acts, it is only right that this information be brought to the attention of the relevant authorities.
"Those who are compliant have every right to feel aggrieved at the actions of those who are not. Consequently this is not simply a mechanism to ensure that wrongdoers in the pensions and taxation areas are brought to justice but it also strengthens the position of those who conduct their affairs with integrity," he added.
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