Ms Y and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners

JudgeStephen Rafferty, Senior Investigator
Judgment Date31 August 2015
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator found that Revenue was not justified in its decision to refuse the request under sections 10(1)(a) and 10(1)(c) of the Act. He annulled the decision of Revenue and directed it to undertake a fresh decision making process on the request.
Record Number150123
CourtInformation Commission
RespondentOffice of the Revenue Commissioners
Whether Revenue was justified in its decision to refuse access to details of the number of instances where individuals were afforded tax relief on pension contributions in particular circumstances on the ground that the records sought do not exist
Conducted in accordance with section 34(2) of the FOI Act by Stephen Rafferty, Senior Investigator, who is authorised by the Information Commissioner to conduct this review

On 9 October 2014 the applicant submitted a request to Revenue seeking details of the number of instances where tax relief was afforded to individuals for contributions to a pension scheme under two specified circumstances in respect of each tax year since the commencement of the FOI Act. In its decision letter of 7 November 2014, Revenue stated that it was not in a position to provide the information sought as it does not capture the data to the level of detail sought.

The applicant sought an internal review of Revenue's decision on 4 December 2014 and suggested that Revenue should be able to provide the data by identifying and counting the relevant cases. She suggested that the exercise could be confined to certain State agencies if the exercise would be too large. In its internal review decision of 29 December 2014, Revenue again stated that the information sought is not available as it is not captured in the Revenue system. It added that in order to identify relevant cases it would have to examine all taxpayer records to identify relevant cases. On this basis, Revenue also decided to refuse the request under section 15(1)(c) on the ground that granting the request would cause a substantial and unreasonable interference with, or disruption of, work of Revenue. The applicant submitted an application to this Office for a review of that decision on 24 April 2015.

In conducting this review I have had regard to correspondence between the applicant and Revenue, to correspondence between the applicant and this Office, to correspondence between Revenue and this Office and to the provisions of the FOI Act 1997, as amended.

In the interests of clarity, I should point out that this review was carried out under the provisions of the FOI Acts 1997-2003 notwithstanding the fact that the FOI Act 2014 has now been enacted. The transitional provisions in section 55 of the 2014 Act provide that any action commenced under the 1997 Act but not completed before the commencement...

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