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New Self-Assessment System - What Does it Mean?

By Eilish Keegan

Officer of the Revenue Commissioners

New assessing rules were introduced in the Finance Act 2012. With effect from 2013, a system of full self-assessment will apply for direct taxes. The overall aim of the change is to modernise and streamline the assessing rules for direct taxes, reduce complexity, advance the Government's simplification agenda and provide greater clarity and certainty for taxpayers and agents.

New Provisions

The new provisions apply to the tax year 2013 and for accounting periods commencing on or after 1 January 2013. In general the changes impacting on tax payers include

  • Individuals and companies must include a self-assessment of the tax payable for the tax year or accounting period with the tax return. The ROS Corporation and Income Tax returns will continue to include the ROS calculation facility, which will provide a tax computation. However, the tax payer must then decide to accept this computation as their self-assessment or declare an alternative.
  • The ROS and paper returns will contain a new self-assessment panel where the taxpayer will enter their self-assessment. Completion of this detail will be mandatory in all cases.
  • Revenue will not issue a Notice of Assessment. Instead, an acknowledgement of the self-assessment will issue, mirroring current practice, either to the ROS inbox or by post, depending on whether or not the tax payer and/or the agent is a ROS customer. This notification will contain the details of the self-assessment as computed by the tax payer and submitted to Revenue.
  • There is an improved Expression of Doubt facility which must be made by the return filing date. All supporting documentation in support of the “doubt” must be emailed via secure email to the tax payer's local tax district when the tax return is submitted. Tax payers, must complete their self-assessment even in cases where they have a doubt. It is important to note that Revenue may refuse an Expression of Doubt where it is of the opinion that the doubt is not genuine – for example, where Revenue guidelines have already clarified the matter involved.
  • No appeal can be made against a self-assessment.

In addition to the above all e-filed returns must be e-amended, where amendments are deemed essential by the tax payer. The current restrictions for amending returns electronically on ROS will be reviewed to allow tax payers / agents use ROS to amend their own or client returns, within permitted time frames. This will negate the need to contact local districts with details of the changes and greatly simplify current practices. However, this amendment facility will not be available where Revenue has initiated an audit or investigation for that chargeable period.

Changes to ROS System?

While there are a number of significant changes associated with the introduction of this self-assessment regime in many respects the system will remain as it currently is. Some familiar processes that won't change include

  • ROS will continue to acknowledge receipt of all returns filed as is current practice, i.e. a complete copy of the return e filed will be acknowledged into the ROS inbox by the filer.
  • Individuals who are paper filers (Income Tax only) may continue to opt to submit the paper return by the early filing deadline and Revenue will compute the self-assessment.
  • Taxpayers will continue to be subject to normal Revenue audit and compliance interventions.
  • Revenue retain the right to raise assessments.


The changes outlined are significant but will only impact on returns filed for accounting periods commencing on or after 1 January 2013, and the tax year 2013. The majority of tax payers will therefore not be impacted by these changes until 2014, when they are due to file their 2013 returns. This time frame provides sufficient time for tax payers and their agents to familiarise themselves with the new procedures and to adjust their working practices accordingly.

These changes should provide greater clarity and certainty for taxpayers and agents and contribute to reducing the administrative burden on taxpayers and associated compliance costs.

Eilish Keegan Principal Officer, Planning Division, Office of the Revenue Commissioners.