Friday 24 November 2017

Noonan knew about pension clampdown

THE Revenue Commissioners today denied "scaring the living daylights" out of the elderly in the pension debacle.

However, the organisation admitted it will now have to examine its communication strategy, which has received harsh criticism.

It has emerged that Finance Minister Michael Noonan included a warning about the pensions clampdown in his Budget speech in December.

In the Budget Mr Noonan outlined: “In recent years the Revenue Commissioners have sought and obtained an increase in their ability to obtain information on payments made by Government bodies and others to third parties.

“In addition, the Commissioners have continuously upgraded and extended the range of information they receive from the Department of Social Protection.”

However, he did not explain that this meant the Revenue would be targeting pensioners.

A special phoneline set up to deal with queries has received 20,000 calls since Friday.

In all, 115,000 OAPs were advised in a letter from the Revenue that there may be changes to their tax liabilities.

Declan Rigney of the Revenue Commissioners insisted,that for a lot of people, no backdated payments will be required.

Speaking about the Revenue's communications, Mr Rigney said: “Like any major communications exercise like this, we will need to take it away and look at how we approached it.”

Senior officials from the Revenue Commissioners are to be asked to explain before an Oireachtas committee why it sent letters seeking payment of extra tax in cases where there may have been no tax liability.

Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath said: “Fine Gael and Labour promised the Irish people that they would be upfront and honest with them at all times.”

Mr Noonan last night rejected the criticism, saying that the Government did not have a role in “operational” aspects.

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