Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act 1997, gives every person statutory rights:
- to access information held by public bodies;
- to have official information relating to him/herself amended where it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading;
- to obtain reasons for decisions affecting him/herself.
The Act asserts the right of members of the public to obtain access to official information to the greatest extent possible consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy of individuals.
Routinely available information
Revenue currently makes information routinely available to the public in relation to its functions, activities and schemes. Such information will continue to be made available without the need to use the FOI Act. Under the Act this routinely available information is supplemented by the publication of Revenue's Tax and Duty Manuals for staff and A Guide to the Functions and Structures of the Office. In addition, Revenue also has a wide range of leaflets and guides available in our website.
Information requiring an FOI request
The FOI Act is designed to allow members of the public access to information held by public bodies which is NOT routinely available. Access to information under the Act is subject to certain exemptions and involves specific procedures and time limits.
Information to be disclosed under FOI
In general the Act relates to information created after April 1998. There are however some exceptions. In the case of personal information relating to the requester, the Act applies to old information still held on file, as well as to new information arising after April 1998. There is also an exception where older "non-personal" information is needed to understand the newer information of that kind.
Limitations to the type of information which can be accessed
There are, of course, other limitations to the type of information which can be accessed. These are covered by exemptions within the Act.
The first major restriction is on access to personal information. There are provisions to protect personal information from access by third parties and to protect information given in confidence.
The second major restriction is on access to information which would compromise law enforcement, security or the finances of the State. However, the general policy will be to grant the greatest extent of access consistent with the protections and restrictions set out in the Act.
Rights of review and appeal other than under FOI
Complaints about the quality of services or the manner in which they are delivered by the Office are normally dealt with by the relevant Customer Service areas. Where decisions made by Revenue are disputed or disagreed with, an appeal may be made to the relevant area which made the decision.