herald

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Shock and anger as OAPs face tax raid on pensions

THE Government was today facing a ‘silver revolution’ as the taxman raided pensioners. The Revenue Commissioners were preparing to trawl millions of euro in backdated taxes from 115,000 OAPs.



Tax officials warned that they may look for tax going back years.

The strategy was met with disbelief by angry pensioners who threatened a major backlash against the coalition government.

One 80-year-old Dubliner today expressed her outrage with the Revenue Commissioners.

"I’m very annoyed. They wrote me a letter saying I owed them tax, but they were wrong," Mary Morrison told the Herald.

"As a citizen I feel it is not right what they are doing to people," she added.

Representatives of elderly people said that the reaction had been one of "shock and anger".

The clampdown came following an exchange of information between the Department of Social Protection and the Revenue Commissioners.

It has matched private pension recipients with details of those claiming State pensions and calculated 115,000 would have to pay more tax this year.

The move will cut some pension incomes by up to €8,800 a year.

Eamon Timmins, from Age Action, said: "This has caused huge concern for older people who always believed they were tax compliant."



He added that people who were tax compliant all their working lives were finding out now their State pension "had tipped them over and that they have a liability and facing a tax bill this year".

"It's coming at a time when there's huge demand on their pensions," he said.

Shock and anger is the main response, Mr Timmins said.

Declan Rigney, from the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, said they "need to do more analysis on these figures" before deciding on whether to impose backdated liabilities.

He said there were some people who owed "a very small additional tax charge".

"It may be uneconomic to go and collect those in certain circumstances. We would be looking to target our resources at people who would have a higher exposure," Mr Rigney said today. However, he denied that meant there would be an "amnesty".

"We need to do more analysis of the groupings involved and see what the implications are," he said. Asked whether he was ruling out back tax, Mr Rigney said "no".

Mairead Hayes, from the Senior Citizens Parliament, said that the announcement was causing panic for older people.

"What we would say is, don't panic about this. It can be sorted and maybe the announcement (from the Revenue) has a bit too much testosterone in it. What we should be doing is working together to see if we can make everybody compliant," she said.

She insisted organisations should have been informed about the investigations.

"I think that in the spirit of partnership with groups such as ourselves ... it would have been a very good idea to have signalled this to us. Most of the people that we're aware of only got the notice in mid-December or later," she said.

Officials discovered that a huge number of retired people had second pensions that the taxman knew nothing about.

The new data emerged when the Revenue and Minister Joan Burton's department began cross-checking data.

They discovered large numbers of pensioners were earning more than the records showed, meaning their tax credits had been incorrectly calculated for years.

comurphy@herald.ie

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