Finance Act, 1979

Power to obtain from certain persons particulars of transactions with and documents concerning tax liability of taxpayers.

31.—(1) (a) In this section—

“an authorised officer” means an inspector authorised by the Revenue Commissioners to exercise the powers conferred by this section;

“business” means any trade, profession or business (other than banking business within the meaning of the Central Bank Act, 1971 );

“documents” includes books, accounts and records;

“tax” means income tax or corporation tax.

(b) The persons who may be treated as “the taxpayer” under this section include a company which has ceased to exist and an individual who has died; and,in relation to such an individual, the reference in subsection (2) to the spouse is then instead to the widow or widower (the circumstance that she or he may have re-married being immaterial for the purposes of that subsection).

(2) Where a person (in this section referred to as “the taxpayer”) delivers to an inspector a statement of the income, profits or gains arising to him from—

(a) any business (past or present) carried on by him or his spouse, or

(b) any business (past or present) with whose management either of them was concerned at a material time,

and the inspector is not satisfied with the statement, the inspector may serve on the taxpayer a notice in writing stating—

(i) that he is not satisfied with the statement delivered to him, and

(ii) that he has requested an authorised officer to serve notice under this section on persons who, in relation to the taxpayer, are subject to this section.

(3) Where a notice under subsection (2) has been served on the taxpayer, an authorised officer may, for the purpose of enquiring into the tax liability of the taxpayer, by notice in writing served on any person who, in relation to the taxpayer, is subject to this section require him, within the period stated in the notice, or within such further period as the authorised officer may allow—

(a) to furnish him with particulars of any business transactions which that person had with the taxpayer during a stated period, and

(b) to deliver to him or, if the person to whom the notice is given so elects, to make available for inspection by an authorised officer such documents specified or described in the notice as are in his possession or power and as, in the first-mentioned officer's opinion, contain, or may contain, information relevant to any tax liability to which the taxpayer is or may be or may have been subject, or to the amount of any such tax liability.

(4) Nothing in this section shall be construed as requiring a person who is carrying on a profession, and on whom a notice under subsection (3) has been served, to furnish any particulars relating to a client to an authorised officer, or to deliver to, or make available for inspection by, an authorised officer any documents relating to a client, other than such particulars or documents—

(a) as pertain to the payment of fees or to other financial transactions, or

(b) as are otherwise material to the tax liability of the client,

and, in particular, he shall not be required to disclose any information or professional advice of a confidential nature given to a client.

(5) Where a person fails to comply with a requirement duly made on the person under subsection (3) within the period stated in the notice containing the requirement or such further period as may be allowed by the authorised officer concerned, the person shall be liable to a penalty of £500.

(6) The persons who, in relation to a taxpayer, are subject to this section are any person who is carrying on a business, or was doing so at a material time, and any company whether carrying on a business or not.

(7) For the purposes of subsection (2), every director of a company is to be taken as being concerned with the management of any business carried on by the company, and a material time is any time which, in the authorised officer's opinion, is, or may have been, material in the ascertainment of any past or present tax liability of the taxpayer.

(8) Where documents are to be delivered to an authorised officer pursuant to a requirement duly made under subsection (3), copies of such documents may be delivered instead of the originals; but—

(a) The copies must be photographic or otherwise by way of facsimile; and

(b) if so required by the authorised officer, the originals must be made available for inspection by an authorised officer, failure to comply with this provision being treated as failure to comply with the requirement.

(9) An authorised officer may examine any documents furnished or made available for inspection under this section and may take copies of, or extracts from, them.

(10) When exercising any powers conferred by this section, an authorised officer shall, if so requested by any person affected, produce to that person a certificate of the Revenue Commissioners authorising him to exercise the powers conferred by this section.