Commissioner’s discretion for tax pooling

Commissioner’s discretion for tax pooling

Commissioner’s discretion for tax pooling 1200 630 Lee Stace

A provision within legislation allows taxpayers to use tax pooling for certain income tax or RWT voluntary disclosures where no return has been previously filed.

This is known as Commissioner’s discretion.

And it’s worth seeking if a taxpayer satisfies all relevant criteria (see below), as settling these underpaid tax types through an approved tax pooling provider such as Tax Management NZ (TMNZ) can result in significant interest savings. We can reduce the interest payable by up to 30 percent.

To use tax pooling for historical income tax and other tax types, there generally needs to be a notice of reassessment issued by Inland Revenue (IRD).

However, section RP17B (9) Income Tax Act 2007 stipulates that the Commissioner’s discretion found in RP17B (10) of the Act may be available in situations where a voluntary disclosure for income tax or RWT is made and a return for that tax type has not previously been filed.

The criteria for Commissioner’s discretion

That said, there are three conditions a taxpayer seeking Commissioner’s discretion to use tax pooling funds to settle income tax and RWT obligations must meet.

They are as follows:

  • The increased amount arises as a result of an event or circumstance beyond the person’s control; and
  • The person has a reasonable justification or excuse for not filing the return by the required date; and
  • The person has an otherwise good compliance history for two income years before the income year in which the voluntary disclosure is made.

A taxpayer must satisfy all three requirements for the Commissioner to exercise her discretion.

This ensures that in exercising discretion she is satisfied that each occasion of non-compliance is not a deliberate act or a continuation of failures because of the taxpayer’s inadequate or poorly applied internal controls.

We recommend you refer to the examples 12 and 13 (pages 44 and 45) of the Tax Information Bulletin Vol 23, No 8, October 2011 to get a sense of the scenarios where IRD will allow or decline a request for Commissioner’s discretion.

Applying for Commissioner’s discretion

The process is straightforward.

An application asking the Commissioner to exercise her discretion to use tax pooling funds can be made in writing.

Be sure to include the taxpayer’s name and IRD number in this correspondence.

Outline the details of the case in a few paragraphs. We recommend splitting this information under the following headings:

  • Background information. Include information about the taxpayer and nature of their business. It should also contain contextual information that you deem relevant, such as historical business relationships, personal circumstances, and relationships with other/historical accountants.
  • The increased amount arises as a result of an event or circumstance beyond the person’s control. Include detailed (and chronological) events or factors that have occurred throughout the period in question that provide further contextual explanation as to how the liability has arisen and not been declared until now, and how this was beyond the taxpayer’s control.
  • The person has a reasonable justification or excuse for not filing the return by the required date. Include any details that show the client has not been purposefully negligent.
  • The person has an otherwise good compliance history for two income years before the income year in which the voluntary disclosure is made. Include details that support a good prior history. It’s important to show this occurrence is out of the ordinary and therefore worthy of consideration.

TMNZ has an email template available should you require this.

Requests asking the Commissioner to exercise her discretion can be sent to Rajni Raju at IRD by emailing Rajni.Raju@ird.govt.nz.  

TMNZ is here to help

If you’d like further information on Commissioner’s discretion or wish to discuss a particular scenario, please call us on 0800 829 888 or email support@tmnz.co.nz.

Lee Stace

Lee Stace is the PR and Content Manager at Tax Management NZ.

All posts by: Lee Stace