Revenue under fire over rule change

The Revenue has come under fire after publishing details of changes to group relief which come into effect only from 29 December.

Experts have complained this leaves only a three day window for groups with a 31 December year end to take advantage of the new rules.

With the usual delays in the Christmas postal service, commentators believe companies have been put in an impossible position. The alternative is to use the existing regime.

‘By neither having had the regulations laid in time for them to be effective, nor saying they would accept the new basis before 29 December, the Revenue has produced the worst of all worlds,’ said one commentator.

A Revenue spokesman said: ‘It took time to lay the regulations and we wanted it to go through so at least a few people could use it.’

Companies use group relief to set a loss made in one subsidiary against the tax on profits paid in another. Changes made in an attempt to simplify the procedure failed, hence the new regulations revealed on 8 December.

According to some, the new arrangement will leave companies facing a dilemma:

If they wait until 29 December, they risk a delayed postal service holding up the paper work beyond the deadline at the end of the month, and if they choose to submit returns under the old style now and then submit again under the new rules, the Revenue could ignore the second submission.

Forms to allow returns under new rules will not be available until 15 December.Frank Haskew of the English ICA’s Tax Faculty, said: ‘Most companies will have already submitted their returns but this is a strange date to choose.’

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