The Maples Group has a market leading Tax Disputes practice. Andrew Quinn, William Fogarty and Jean-Dominique Morelli from our Tax team and Robin McDonnell, Kevin Harnett and Eugene McCormick from our Litigation team lead this practice and together form an integrated and technical team of experts with the combined expertise to deal with all aspects of a tax dispute.
We regularly represent and advise on a wide range of tax investigations and disputes with the Irish Revenue Commissioners, Luxembourg tax authorities and overseas tax authorities. We also advise clients on matters relating to tax disputes or potential disputes, such as cases where there are contractual or indemnity claims with third parties relating to tax liabilities and also matters involving assessing and protecting against tax risk.
In our experience, tax authorities worldwide have become more assertive in investigating and disputing the affairs of taxpayers. In Ireland, there have been a number of high profile Irish Revenue interventions in recent times. For example, in 2018, the Irish Revenue Commissioners issued a tax assessment for €1.64 billion on an Irish subsidiary of Perrigo Company plc, an international US listed healthcare group, and in 2019 an assessment against Takeda, the pharmaceutical company, for €398 million. In Luxembourg, there has also been a notable increase of tax disputes.
Many Irish and Luxembourg tax disputes do not result in public litigation. Although some of our work is public, such as our representation in the courts, for financial institutions a large amount of our work is undertaken privately and without disclosure. We have considerable expertise in assisting with enquiries, audits and the negotiation of settlements with tax authorities. The creation of the Irish Tax Appeals Commission in 2016, which replaced the Appeal Commissioners regime, has created a more formalised and rigorous process for appeals from assessments by the Irish Revenue Commissioners. Where settlements with the tax authorities cannot be achieved, we work closely with our clients to assist them in the robust pursuit of appeals against erroneous assessments.
Our recent experience includes advising:
- An international financial institution in Irish Commercial Court proceedings regarding the tax treatment of Irish dividend withholding tax. This was a widely-reported action which resulted in a successful outcome for our client.
- Companies and insurance companies with regard to protecting against potential future tax risk related to a transaction. This includes both ‘warranty and indemnity’ insurance and specific tax risk insurance.
- An international investment firm with regard to the denial of a tax refund by the German tax authorities to their Irish company in which we utilised European law to successfully obtain the full refund.
- Several investment funds in a tax investigation and settlement relating to directors' fees for non-executive directors. This involved detailed discussions with the Irish Revenue Commissioners and a subsequent successful settlement involving over 15 individual clients.
- A class action appeal involving over 60 high net worth individuals in a tax avoidance case. This case broke new procedural ground and resolved a case which, prior to our involvement, had persisted for over 10 years of difficult and costly litigation.
- Several Irish property owners on VAT audits. In one case, a client had recovered significant amounts of VAT. The case involved a detailed analysis of Irish and EU VAT legislation and was ultimately resolved in favour of that client.
- Appearing at the Irish Tax Appeals Commission on behalf of clients to dispute cases involving trading status for Irish tax purposes.
- A client with regard to a professional negligence claim against an Irish advisory firm with regard to alleged negligent tax advice.
- Acting on behalf of a financial institution in an international tax dispute involving questions of beneficial ownership and double tax treaty access.