CLARITY on the possibility that 115,000 pensioners may be liable for backdated taxes over a number of years due to an under calculation of their liabilities is being sought by Fianna Fail’s spokesperson on Social Protection, Barry Cowen, TD.
Deputy Cowen has criticised what he described as the “gross mismanagement” of informing 115,000 pensioners that they now own the revenue money for tax liabilities, and has called for clarity on the suggestion that the demands may be backdated for a number of years.
The Fianna Fail front bench spokesperson also called on the Finance Minister, Michael Noonan, TD, to explain when he became aware of the issue and why he didn’t move to explain to pensioners what was happening before tax demands began landing on their doorsteps.
“These 115,000 pensioners have essentially been labelled as tax cheats, despite the fact that vast majority of them had no idea their liabilities had been miscalculated. This has caused great distress and confusion among many of our most vulnerable older people.
“Who in Government thought it was a good idea to land a letter telling pensioners they are not tax compliant on 115,000 doorsteps just days after Christmas without warning, explanation or clarity on what approach will be taken? Questions must be asked about who in Government knew this was coming and why they did not insist on a proper public information campaign before issuing the letters.
“At a time when people are already concerned about how they will manage through the year ahead, terrifying them with the label of tax defaulter shows a complete lack of empathy and understanding. Did the Revenue Commissioner inform the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan that the mail out was about to take place? If so, why did he not believe it was necessary to inform those affected? If not, why not?”
Deputy Cowen called for an immediate information campaign to clear up all of this “confusion and spell out exactly” what this means for pensioners, including immediate clarity on whether they intend to backdate the claims.
“I am also calling on the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton and the Revenue Commissioners to outline what efforts are being made to allow any extra payments to be made on a phased and manageable basis. Many of the older people affected are in nursing homes or are heavily dependent on every penny of they get in their pension. They have spent a lifetime paying the taxes they were asked to and are deeply concerned about how they will pay the extra liabilities arising from this miscalculation. The very least they can expect now is clarity on what they are being asked to do.”