Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary, 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 Calleary said: “Since these letters landed I have been contacted by many pensioners and concerned family members who are shocked and confused about what this means for them. They have been told with no warning that they may be tax defaulters, and they will now have to pay up. There is no clarity on whether this will be backdated, it is not clearly stated how much they will have to pay, or how the payments must be made.
Calleary says the Goverment has ‘seriously mishandled’ the process.
“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.
Meanwhile Age Action has called for a major public information campaign to explain how pensioners can remain tax compliant.
The older people’s charity made the call after the Revenue Commissioner notified 115,000 recipients of pensions paid by the Department of Social Protection, stating that they owe money as a result of an under-calculation of their tax liabilities.
The situation emerged after the Department of Social Protection shared details of 560,000 cases with the Revenue Commissioners.
“The letters have caused anger and anxiety among older people who previously believed they were tax compliant and who had been tax compliant all their working lives,” Age Action spokesman Eamon Timmins said.
However, Mr Timmins believes that the Revenue Commissioners’ actions have at least highlighted older people’s misunderstandings about their tax obligations. “A public information campaign is needed to highlight these issues so that we do not have a recurrence of this week’s events,” he said.
Age Action is hoping to meet with the Revenue Commissioners to address this issue next week.
Deputy Calleary has also called for a public information campaign. “Many of the older people affected by this in Co Mayo are in nursing homes or are heavily dependent on every penny 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.”