Appendix III: Survey Selected Comments

1. How are Taxpayer Rights set out?

2. Is there an explicit Taxpayer Charter in your country?

3. What form does the Taxpayer Charter take?

4. Is the Taxpayer Charter legally binding?

5. Is the Taxpayer Charter followed by the tax authority?

6. Do tax professionals use the Taxpayer Charter in dealing with the tax authority?

7. What are the main aspects of how the Taxpayer Charter is used by professionals?

8. How is the Taxpayer Charter seen by tax professionals in general?

9. How is the Taxpayer Charter seen by taxpayers?

10. Do taxpayers have a right to be presumed to be honest by the tax authority, unless there is evidence to the contrary?

11. Can taxpayers use Taxpayer Rights to delay payment of tax or delay disclosure (of information relevant to a calculation) of tax?

12. Are taxpayers entitled to use reasonable tax planning to pay the minimum amount of tax possible?

13. Are there limitations on Taxpayer Rights where their use is to obstruct or delay actions of the tax authority without a reasonable basis?

14. Where there is reasonable cause, are there provisions for the relief of interest at the tax authority's discretion?

15. Where there is reasonable cause, are there provisions for the relief of penalties at the tax authority's discretion?

16. Where there is reasonable cause, are there provisions for an extension of deadlines at the tax authority's discretion?

17. What constitutes 'reasonable cause'?

18. Is discretion routinely used by the tax authority?

19. Is the authority to exercise discretion granted by legislation?

20. In your country, are all taxpayers within a broad definition (e.g. individual/corporation) treated basically the same?

21. Is there a precedent for the tax system being used to tax more heavily a specific sector (i.e. speculation tax on real estate, tax on bankers bonuses)?

22. In what other ways is the tax system used that could be considered discriminatory?

23. Does the tax authority provide clear instructions, forms, guides and information to assist the taxpayer in making a tax filing?

24. Which aspects of the instructions provided by the tax authority are well done?

25. Which aspects of the instructions provided by the tax authority are poorly done?

26. Is there a statutory requirement that the tax authority provide clear instructions, forms, guides and information?

27. Can the tax authority apply refunds due to a taxpayer against other liabilities owed by the taxpayer?

28. Is there specific legislation permitting the tax authority to apply refunds due to a taxpayer against other liabilities owed by the taxpayer?  If yes, please add citation in textbox.

29. Can the tax authority apply refunds that are due to the taxpayer to the liabilities owed by a related taxpayer (i.e. A husband or wife, related corporation...etc)?

30. Can the tax authority apply refunds of a year against the tax liability of another year where that year is under appeal?

31. When a taxpayer files a tax return is an assessment always provided?

32. Is it clearly set out in law that the tax authority shall provide an assessment?

33. Can the tax authority delay an assessment if they choose to? (e.g. If an important case is pending in the courts?)

34. Under what circumstances would the tax authority delay assessment?

35. Can the taxpayer compel assessment from the tax authority?

36. Are the assessments delivered by the tax authority clear and show the computation of tax and the basis upon which is was levied?

37. When assessments from the tax authority differ from the taxpayer's calculation, are the reasons clearly explained?

38. When interest is levied, is the cause clearly explained, as well as the methods of calculation?

39. When a penalty is levied, is the cause clearly explained, as well as the methods of calculation?

40. Is the taxpayer notified of their right to appeal when an assessment is received?

41. Is the taxpayer provided with reasonable deadlines for appeal that are clearly outlined?

42. What information is a taxpayer required to provide during the course of an audit?

43. Does your country limit evidence that can be admitted in a criminal matter when it was procured using broader audit powers?

44. Is the taxpayer required to answer questions regarding intent?

45. Prior to carrying out a routine audit or enquiry, are tax officials required to notify the taxpayer of the audit or enquiry?

46. Are tax officials conducting an audit only permitted to request information that is applicable to the matters under review and reasonably necessary in the circumstances?

47. Are tax officials permitted to use penalty provisions as negotiating tactic?

48. Do tax officials ask questions of taxpayers without necessarily disclosing the intent and implications of the questions?

49. If the taxpayer requests all communication be in writing, is the tax authority obligated to comply?

50. Does a taxpayer have a right to have a tax advisor (which may include legal counsel) present at all meetings and other interactions? (e.g. during an audit)

51. Are preliminary audit results or conclusions given informally to the taxpayer or tax advisor with reasonable time to respond so there can be dialogue before a final audit position is reached?

52. When the imposition of a penalty is considered by the tax authority, is this disclosed to the taxpayer at the time the tax authority becomes aware of the circumstances which might justify the penalty?

53. Is there an internal appeals process if the tax authority makes decisions with which the taxpayer disagrees?

54. Is the process mandated in law which is binding on the tax authority?

55. Can the tax authority require the taxpayer's waive rights of appeal as a condition of settlement agreement, before the expiration of the time to file an appeal as part of a negotiated settlement?

56. Can a taxpayer withdraw from an appeal without consent of authority?

57. Do taxpayers have the right to all relevant information pertaining to an audit in a timely manner upon request to the tax authority (except information obtained from a third party and certain other information which may be properly withheld)?

58. Is the period for filing an appeal held in abeyance during the time that the taxpayer has requested, but not received information in the possession of the tax authority relevant to the audit or inquiry which the taxpayer has a right to receive?

59. Are tax officials conducting an appeal able to exercise independent and objective decision making and not be bound by decisions by the administration (i.e. Head Office Policy)?

60. Are taxpayers required to make any payments of tax, interest or penalties in respect of a matter which is under appeal?

61. Can a taxpayer use the appeals process to delay the payment of tax, interest, or penalties without a valid reason (i.e. a frivolous appeal)?

62. Is a taxpayer entitled to self-representation at an appeal of first instance?

63. Is a taxpayer entitled to a claim of privilege (so that information does not have to be revealed) in respect of communication with a duly appointed tax advisor concerning a tax appeal?

64. Is a taxpayer entitled to costs in respect of an appeal, when justified?

65. On what basis are costs awarded?

66. Does the taxpayer have the legal right to be heard and responded to and to receive reasonable assistance from the tax administration?

67. Does the tax authority provide assistance as to the application and interpretation of tax laws (but not of course planning advice)?

68. Does the tax authority provide tax legislation, regulations, forms, guides and information to taxpayers in an accessible manner?

69. Are the forms and guides kept up-to-date?

70. Is this information available for free?

71. Are tax officials expected to be thoroughly familiar with the law as it is applicable to their duties?

72. Are tax officials knowledgeable and adequately trained?

73. Is the taxpayer entitled to information concerning past tax records in possession of the tax authority?

74. Does the tax authority define services standards for its dealings with taxpayers?

75. Do the service standards include...

76. Are the service standards legally binding, administrative or both?

77. Does the tax authority investigate and measure actual performance against these service standards?

78. Are these service standards published?

79. Are the results of performance of service standards published?

80. Does the tax authority publish the results of its audit programs?

81. Do the publications include...

82. Is the tax authority responsible for information it puts into writing so that a taxpayer may rely on it?

83. Is the information the tax authority puts into writing legally binding?

84. If the information put into writing by the tax authority later proves to be wrong but was in the taxpayers' favour, can the taxpayer rely on the error?

85. Does your tax authority have a mechanism for issuing rulings and technical interpretations?

86. When the tax authority adopts a position on legislation, does the tax authority publish this position and make it available to taxpayers?

87. Does the tax authority publish the adopted position and make it available to taxpayers with respect to valuation issues?

88. Does the tax authority publish the adopted position and make it available to taxpayers with respect to pricing data?

89. Can a taxpayer require that the tax authority provide an interpretation of the law?

90. Can a taxpayer require the tax authority to provide a ruling on a tax matter?

91. Are tax rulings binding?

92. Are published interpretations binding on the tax authority?

93. Does the tax authority adhere to their past rulings and technical interpretations, and keep them up to date?

94. Do taxpayers have an obligation to maintain accurate records in order to verify their tax filings?

95. Are taxpayers protected from unreasonable search and seizure without due process?

96. When taxpayer's records are seized, is a copy of materials provided to the taxpayer so that their business is not impaired?

97. Where the taxpayer's records are inadequate, can the tax authority penalize the taxpayer?

98. Where the taxpayer's records are inadequate, can the tax authority deny deductibles or add additional income as may be appropriate?

99. If a taxpayer is otherwise presumed to be honest, does the lack of appropriate records call their honesty into doubt?

100. Are the affairs of the taxpayer kept confidential by the tax officials who are charged with handling the affairs of the taxpayer in question?

101. Are tax officials who have a personal relationship with the taxpayers not to be involved with the taxpayers' dealings with the tax authority?

102. Do taxpayers have the right to refuse to disclose information that is clearly unrelated to the issue being dealt with by the tax authority?

103. Can the tax authority obtain information from third parties about large groups of taxpayers (e.g. require centralized data from banks)?

104. Does the tax authority have broad powers to interpret the laws passed by the State?

105. Does the tax authority interpret the laws passed by the State without bias towards the taxpayer or the State?

106. Can the tax authority conduct broad audits which target for example specific industries, sectors of the economy or professions?

107. Will the tax authority respond to arguments put forward by taxpayers with sufficient detail and reference to legislation in regards to a taxpayer's specific situation?

108. Does the tax authority publish statistics of reasonable detail with respect to the tax levied under the tax legislation?

109. Does this include tax relieved by deductions?

110. Do taxpayers have the right to communicate with the tax authority in any official language of the State?

111. Can this choice of language be altered by the taxpayer without reasonable case?

112. In general, is the burden of proof on the taxpayer?

113.  Is the burden of proof where it involves the imposition of a penalty on the taxpayer?

114. Is the State required to prove the facts for the justification of a penalty?

115. Is the burden of proof to demonstrate the policy intent of legislation on the State?

116. Is there a statute of limitations on when the tax authority can reassess or audit a taxpayer?

117. Is the statute of limitations on audit and reassessment clearly stated in legislation?

118. If the tax authority wishes to assess a taxpayer beyond the statute of limitations, is the burden on them to show that such action should be allowed?

119. Is it required that tax legislation be written in a clear and unambiguous way such that a taxpayer without specialized knowledge can understand and thereby comply with it?

120. Has there been an instance of tax legislation, duly passed into law, being void because it was impossible to interpret and/or comply with?

121. Before tax legislation can be enforced is it required to be passed into law by the State?

122. When legislation increases tax, is it required to be accompanied by revenue projections?

123. When legislation is to be interpreted in accordance with its underlying tax policy, is there a requirement this policy is to be written in a clear and unambiguous manner?

124. Are tax laws that are no longer relevant removed from tax legislation?

125. Is retroactive tax legislation permitted?

126. Is retroactive legislation commonly used?

127. If retroactive legislation is not commonly used, is it used to curtail tax avoidance?

128. Are there examples of legislation pending for long periods of time? (e.g. several years)

129. Is there a requirement to provide transitional rules when legislation taxes something that was not previously taxed?

130. Does legislation provide for the relief of double taxation?

131. How in general terms is double taxation avoided?

132. Is double taxation an important issue and a common problem?

133. Does the State pay interest on overpayments of tax?

134. Is that interest rate tied to the rate that taxpayers pay if they are late with their payments?

135. Is the basis for a penalty clearly explained when a penalty is assessed?

136. Can taxpayers who conduct their affairs in good faith and appropriate diligence be assured that a penalty will never be levied?

137. Does the tax authority possess the authority to exercise discretion and waive penalties?

138. When there is no fault on behalf of the taxpayer, will the tax authority exercise discretion and waive the penalty?

139. Are penalties levied that are unreasonable considering the conduct of the taxpayer and the amount of tax owed?  If yes please give an example.

140. Can interest owing by the State to the taxpayer and interest owed by the taxpayer to the State, be offset?

141. Are penalties levied against a taxpayer forgiven in the event of death?

142. When the government considers changing the tax laws is there a consultative process?

143. Is the consultative process binding in any sense?

144. Can citizens force a change of tax law by way of plebiscite or referendum?

145. Is there a mechanism in the legal system for challenging legislation that violates the constitution (if applicable), goes against public policy, or is impossible to follow or implement?

146. Could you briefly describe the mechanism for challenging legislation that violates the constitution and has it ever been used?

147. Is there a mechanism for taxpayers to disclose past omissions with a reduced penalty (voluntary disclosure)?

148. Are there laws that require a tax advisor to inform the tax authority of a client or prospective client who has unreported income or other irregularities?

149. Are there laws that protect communication between lawyers and clients as privileged?

150. Are there laws that protect communications between accountants and tax professionals and clients as privileged?

151. Would your professional body like to see a Charter of Taxpayer Rights and Obligations with the force of law?

152. Is it realistic that in your country a Taxpayer Charter of Rights and Obligations could become law?

153. Do you think a Taxpayer Charter is a good mechanism to protect taxpayers?

154. Do you think the Taxpayer Charter of Rights and Obligations should apply to all taxes levied by the State? (i.e. Income. VAT, Estate, etc.) or only on certain taxes (i.e. income)?

155. What is the attitude of the tax authority in general towards taxpayers?

156. How does the tax authority see taxpayers?

157. How do taxpayers see the Tax Authority?

158. A Taxpayer Charter of Rights and Obligations would be viewed favourably by taxpayers?

159. A Taxpayer Charter of Rights and Obligations would be viewed favourably by tax professionals?

160. A Taxpayer Charter of Rights and Obligations would be viewed favourably by the tax authority?

161. Taxpayer Charter of Rights and Obligations would be viewed favourably by government?

162. Do you see any issue with a Taxpayer Charter of Rights and Obligations applying to corporations?

163. Do you have any comments or suggestions that do not fit within any of the questions asked?

164. Please indicate the names and contact details of the persons who have completed the survey.