Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins has called for urgent clarification 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.
Deputy Collins has criticised what he describes as the “gross mismanagement” of informing 115,000 pensioners that they now owe the revenue money for tax liabilities and called for clarity on the suggestion that the demands may be backdated for a number of years. He has called on the Government to explain when they became aware of the issue and why he did not move to explain to pensioners what was happening before tax demands began landing on 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,” said Deputy Collins.
“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 or the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton that these letters were being sent? If so, why did the Government not inform those affected? If not, why not?
“I am calling 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 by this in Co Limerick 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.”