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Access to the rulings of the tax dispute committee

5.12.2013 Gunnar Egill Egilsson

We have not seen as many amendments in the Icelandic Income Tax act as the during last years. During that time the number of cases brought before the Tax Dispute Committee the number of publisher rulings reduces dramatically. Shouldn't it be the other way around?

During the past years, various amendments have been made on the Icelandic Income Tax, some of which have been complicated technical changes, which have had substantial effects on the tax system, both for individuals and corporations. Additionally, new exceptions where introduced, as regards the relief from taxation when individuals and corporations receive debt forgive, following the collapse of the Icelandic economic system. And lastly a, the in personal income tax scheme was revolutionised with the introduction of the three bracket personal income tax system.

Therefor it should not come as a surprise that following such amendments, various complications, and disputes may arise during the filing of tax returns or when taxes are being levied. Therefore a grave responsibility is borne by the Tax Dispute Committee, when it hands down its rulings under such circumstances. It's findings are considered final ruling as regards the tax amount payable and disputes regarding tax duty, but the findings can be appealed to the Icelandic courts.

The Tax Dispute Committee is obliged to publish the their main findings each year on their web site, as the findings can be viewed as precedents, as regards other tax persons with compatible complications or disputes.

In the table below the total number of rulings the committee hands down each year can be seen, as well as the number of rulings published. It should be noted that despite the fact that the total number of rulings is have been increasing from 2008, the number of published rulings is drastically reduced. For example, there are only 2 rulings published from 2011 and five 2012, despite that the amendments introduced in the Iceland tax system during the last years is unprecedented. One can argue that during that time, the findings of the committee has the most relevance for the general public and corporations.

What is of much more concern is that it has been known to happen during a dispute between tax persons and the directorate general, the public servants have based their findings on tax committee rulings that have not been made available to public. Therefore it has been evident that the directorate general had access to rulings that other tax persons where had not been granted.

Tax assessments are made accessible to the public each year, where anyone so inclined can review the income tax levied on all taxable persons in Iceland. Additionally the directorate general supplies the press with information on assets and income of the Icelandic public, for them to publish, as they seem fit. Taking that into considerations, should anyone object if the tax dispute committee would publish all it's findings each year – of course all personal information have been excluded from the rulings.