The issue – most recently exposed in the ‘Omega’ case – revolves around share buy-back schemes that the Revenue has argued gave the funds an ?abnormal? dividend.
While a final ruling has yet to be made, tax investigators are saying to the trustees: ‘Pay some now or cough up the lot if the decision goes our way’. If the appeal goes against the Revenue, what chances would the funds have of getting their money back?
This is not just a business decision. Trustees are expected to act in the best interests of pensioners. And this might not mean taking a hit and moving on. They are ‘trusted’ with other people’s money.
Unfortunately, and despite their importance, things which affect pension funds do not tend to attract wide public interest, and they are often seen as a soft target by the taxman.
You can guarantee the opposition would be up in arms if it were the pensioners themselves that had to give money back. Pension funds have been acting in good faith – the Revenue itself had said it would not be appealing against earlier decisions, so in the light of the law as it stood at the time, the funds were doing nothing wrong.
Is it right that the Revenue can go back on history? More importantly, are the hardman tactics being used by the Revenue acceptable?
The Revenue is being heavy-handed and underhanded – it should not be allowed to ask trustees to gamble with other people’s money.
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