Tax Reference Number

A tax reference number is a unique number used by Revenue to identify each person or business in the tax system. The tax reference number is a prerequisite for all dealings with Revenue and will be quoted on all correspondence from Revenue to the taxpayer.

The Personal Public Service Number (PPSN) is an individual's unique reference number for all dealings with the public service, including social welfare, tax, education and health service eligibility. The PPSN is issued by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) to an individual and is used by Revenue as the tax reference number for that person.

However, a PPSN does not become a tax reference number until such time as it has been registered with Revenue for that purpose. Consequently, if a PPSN is quoted in a stamp duty return before it is registered with Revenue, it will not be recognised and the return will be rejected by the e-Stamping system. If a client has neither a tax reference number nor a PPSN, they (or the practitioner acting on their behalf) must apply to the DSP for a PPSN.

Except in a small number of exceptional cases, practitioners will need to apply for replacement PPSNs for those clients with 'W' format PPSNs. Practitioners have expressed concern about delay in the application process. However, the DSP has advised that the omission by practitioners of documentation mandatory to the application has caused considerable delay. The DSP advises that practitioners ensure that all necessary documentation and evidence is supplied with the application. In addition, applications for new PPSNs should be sent only to the DSP's Client Identity Services Office in Carrick-on-Shannon. The address of this office and details of the documentation to be forwarded with these applications are included in Revenue's publication pdfAdditional Notes for Guidance on e-Stamping (PDF, 162KB).

Tax Reference Numbers & Tax Types

A common error by practitioners completing a return is to assume that the tax type refers to stamp duty. Tax type does NOT refer to the type of tax being paid but to the tax type under which the tax reference number is registered by Revenue.

All tax reference numbers used by Revenue are registered against a tax type. For example, tax reference numbers for employees (the PPSN) are registered by Revenue under the tax type PAYE. A business may be registered with Revenue under more than one tax heading, depending on what type of tax liability it is incurring, e.g VAT, IT, etc. The vast majority of tax reference numbers are registered under a few main tax types, including PAYE, VAT, Corporation Tax (CT), Income Tax (IT) and PREM (PAYE Remittance Employers).

If the wrong tax type is entered against a tax reference number on the stamp duty return (or is omitted), Revenue's systems will reject the tax reference number and the return. It is advisable, therefore, to validate the tax reference number and its corresponding tax type as soon as possible before the instrument is executed. The most efficient and effective validation method available to a practitioner is to view a copy of recent correspondence from Revenue to the taxpayer. This correspondence will show the tax reference number and tax registration type and will show the name of the party, as recorded by Revenue, that will appear subsequently in the stamp certificate.

There is only one occasion where stamp duty should be selected as the tax type. If, unusually, a person is not registered with Revenue for tax purposes and has no economic activity, apart the activity giving rise to stamp duty, the practitioner should contact Dublin Stamping District and, on production of the necessary documentary evidence from the Department of Social Protection (DSP) to support the validity of the PPSN, the person’s PPSN will be registered as a tax reference number by Dublin Stamping under the tax type "stamp duty" (note: this registration does not provide registration under any other taxhead). Accordingly, the practitioner must select the tax type “stamp duty” when entering this party’s details on the stamp duty return.

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Tax Reference Numbers & Applying for a Personal Public Service Number

The Department of Social Protection (DSP) allocates all Personal Public Service Numbers (PPSNs) and application for a PPSN must be made to that Department. Guidance on the process of applying for a PPSN provided by the DSPExternal link.

Resident parties to instruments who have not previously been allocated a PPSN must complete an Application Form (REG 1) available only in the network of DSP local offices (listed on the website). The applicant must complete the form and submit it, with the appropriate identity documents (listed at Appendix 1) to the local office in question. Note: The form must be picked up at a DSP office.

Proof of identity is a vitally important aspect of the registration procedure and must be established before a PPSN is allocated. Documents presented to the DSP may be held for authentication. For information on prescribed documents to accompany a PPSN application, please see pdfAdditional Notes for Guidance on e-Stamping (Appendix 1 in Chapter 5) (PDF, 162KB).

Following successful registration the DSP will advise customers of their new number, within 3 to 5 working days, through a letter of notification sent automatically to the address given on the application form. This letter is acceptable proof of a valid PPSN for transactions with Revenue.

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Tax Reference Numbers & Registering PPSNs with Revenue

Once the PPSN has been received from the DSP, it must be registered with Revenue's Central Registration System (CRS) under the tax head in question, before it can be used in a stamp duty return. An unregistered PPSN will cause a stamp duty return to be rejected by the e-Stamping system. The DSP notification letter should be presented to Revenue for registration.

The following items of data are required for registration with Revenue: Evidence of the PPSN and forename, surname, address line 1, address line 2,. This information is contained in the DSP notification letter. The notification letter and a letter requesting registration should be sent to Dublin Stamping Office, Stamping Building, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2, by the PPSN holder, or a representative authorised to act on their behalf. The Revenue registration process should be completed within a day of receipt of the required documentation.

It should be noted that some people who already hold a valid PPSN from the DSP may not be registered with Revenue. This may happen if the person concerned has not previously used their PPSNs for tax purposes. Where this arises, the PPSN will not be recognised by Revenue's systems and a stamp duty return will not be accepted. The PPSN must be presented for registration to the Dublin Stamping Office.

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Tax Reference Numbers & 'Level W' format PPS number

Historically, on marriage, the wife assumed her husband's tax reference number with the letter "W" appended (for example, if a husband’s tax number was 1234567A, (or 1234567W) his wife would have been assigned 1234567AW (or 1234567WW) on their marriage. The policy has since changed to ensure that every individual holds a unique PPS number. Where the wife had a PPS number in her own right prior to marriage this number will have been reactivated by the DSP. If a pre-marriage number did not exist, DSP will assign a new PPS number to the person concerned.

Revenue's systems will recognise those 'Level W' format numbers that have been registered in the past for tax purposes and that remain in current tax usage. Therefore, there is no need to apply for a new number in these cases.

However, a 'Level W' format number that is not in current use for tax purposes will not be recognised by Revenue’s systems and a stamp duty return will not be accepted if the numbers is used. In these circumstances, the number needs to be replaced.

The person should contact the DSP's Client Identity Services at the following address in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Client Identity Services
Social Welfare Services Office
Shannon Lodge
Carrick on Shannon
Co Leitrim.
Phone (071) 9672500

to check whether they have already been issued with a replacement PPS number and, if not, to arrange a new PPS number. The DSP uses a shortened process to replace these numbers and replacements are available generally within 2 – 4 days of application. Applications and queries to the DSP on this matter should include the following information to ensure early resolution.

  • 'Level W' PPS number
  • Birth surname
  • Mother's birth surname
  • Date of birth.
  • Pre marriage PPSN if known.

Once received, the DSP notification of the replacement PPS number should be presented to Revenue to allow the new PPS number to be registered. Revenue registration of the PPS number must be completed before the stamp duty return is filed.

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Non-Resident PPSN Applicants

The same PPSN application process applies to resident and non-resident applicants, but the DSP has made some exceptions to the process for non-residents applying for PPS numbers for capital taxes and stamp duty purposes. Please see pdfAdditional Notes for Guidance on e-Stamping (Appendix 1 in Chapter 5) (PDF, 162KB).

These applications should be made to the DSP Client Identity Services at the following address in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Client Identity Services
Social Welfare Services Office
Shannon Lodge
Carrick on Shannon
Co Leitrim.
Phone (071) 9672500

The DSP will accept applications from a solicitor acting on behalf of a non-resident party needing a PPS number for capital tax and stamp duty purposes (this means that the non-resident does not have to appear in person) and will accept certification from the solicitor that the ID documents submitted are correct and original and represent the non-resident person in question. When applying for registration on behalf of a non-resident party, the practitioner should allow 3 to 6 weeks for the process to be completed.

On receipt of the PPS number from the DSFA, they should register the number with Revenue for stamp duty purposes. The PPSN can be used for other heads of tax but only if the taxpayer decides to register the number under the tax in question. Applying for the PPSN and registering it with Revenue for stamp duty purposes will not of itself render such persons liable to tax in Ireland nor open them to other tax requirements.

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Tax Reference Numbers for Foreign Companies

Revenue provides a fast-track process for obtaining customer numbers for foreign registered companies not registered for tax in Ireland that will allow them to be listed as parties on the return.

The companies should apply to the Dublin Stamping Office for a customer number in writing, either by secure e-mail, letter, or fax, prior to filing the return. Firstly, Revenue will require details of their business name and addresses, supported by documentary evidence, and subsequently will issue them with a dedicated customer number that can be used for stamp duty transactions. The company will not be registered under any other tax head and the customer number cannot be used in returns for any other tax type. The process should be completed within a day of receipt of the application, assuming the documentation submitted is satisfactory.

Application for a customer number can be made by a solicitor acting for the non-resident company, provided s/he can show that s/he is authorised to act on behalf of the company in question.

Applying for a customer number and having it issued by the Revenue for stamp duty purposes will not of itself render such companies liable to tax in Ireland nor open them to other tax requirements.

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Tax Reference Numbers & Fiduciary Capacity

When completing the stamp duty return, the tickbox for "Fiduciary Capacity" should not be ticked if the practitioner is merely filing the stamp duty return on behalf of their client.

The tickbox for "Fiduciary Capacity" under the section 'Instrument Party Details' should be selected only where a party is both recited on the instrument as a party to the instrument and acting in a fiduciary capacity, such as legal personal representative, nominee, trustee, etc.

In certain cases (as outlined in the table below) the tax reference number of the party who is acting in a fiduciary capacity is not required. The name of the party in question and the capacity in which s/he is acting should be declared on the return. For example, in the case of a receiver selling property on behalf of a company in receivership, the name and tax reference number of the company in receivership should be entered on the return. Only the receiver’s name and the capacity in which they are acting should be entered.

Where a party to an instrument is acting in any of the capacities referred to in column 1 of the table below, the details referred to in column 2 of the table should be entered in the Vendor/Purchaser section of the return. For the purpose of the e-Stamping return "Vendor" includes Vendor, Transferor, or Lessor and "Purchaser" includes Purchaser, Transferee, or Lessee.

Tax Reference Numbers & Fiduciary Capacity
Capacity * Vendor/Purchaser details required.
Personal Representative (Executor/Administrator) (see below for Assents) Name and Tax Reference Number of the deceased or the deceased’s estate (where assigned a separate Tax Reference Number).
Bare Trustee/Nominee Name and Tax Reference Number of the beneficial owner(s).
Trustee of a Charitable Trust/Discretionary Trust Name and Tax Reference Number of the trustee(s).
Liquidator Name and Tax Reference Number of the company in liquidation.
Receiver Name and Tax Reference Number of the company in receivership.
Power of Attorney Name and Tax Reference Number of the beneficial owner(s).
Committee of the Ward of Court Name and Tax Reference Number of the Ward of Court.
Trustee of partnership property Name and Tax Reference Number of the partnership.
Official Assignee in bankruptcy Name and Tax Reference Number of the bankrupt person(s).

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Tax Reference Numbers & Receivership cases

Practitioners (and Receivers in particular) should note that the provision of valid tax reference numbers in respect of each party to an instrument is a mandatory legal requirement when submitting an e-stamping return. Compliance with this requirement is required in every case.

Please also note that Revenue is examining cases involving the improper use of tax reference numbers for compliance checks.

Revenue recognises that practical difficulties can exist where the vendor for various reasons is not co-operating with the requirement to provide a valid tax reference number. Receivers may - only in exceptional cases - approach Revenue for assistance where every other possible attempt to obtain a valid tax reference number has firstly been exhausted. Each submission for assistance must be accompanied by documentary evidence showing that every reasonable step was taken to obtain a valid tax reference number and each submission will be treated on a case-by-case basis.

Revenue will reject paper return forms where no satisfactory documentary evidence to the effect that every reasonable effort has been made to obtain a valid tax reference number.

Receivers (and solicitors attempting to file e-stamping returns in receivership cases) are advised that Revenue will not disclose the tax reference number in such cases under a duty of taxpayer confidentiality.

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