When can Revenue seize goods?

Updated on April 16, 2022

Revenue may forfeit goods in the course of a VAT intervention if the following conditions are met:

However, even if you applied the zero-rate VAT to a supply for those products, you kept them in the State without permission.

Due to the inaccurate VAT number provided to the supplier, you are able to purchase these items from a supplier in another EU country without having to pay VAT.

or

Failure to inform Revenue that you have become a responsible individual and are making supplies of those products constitutes theft of tax revenue in the first degree.

If you purchase a new mode of transportation within the EU, you will be subject to the forfeiture provisions if you:

are not able to take back the VAT they paid on those purchases.

and

the goods in question don’t have any VAT applied to them.

What happens if Revenue seize my goods?

If your things are taken, Revenue must decide within two months whether or not they are subject to forfeiture or should be freed.

Customs Acts provisions

Commodities subject to forfeiture under VAT law are covered by the provisions of the Customs Acts regulating forfeiture and condemnation of goods.

Tax and Duty Manual Part 38-04-01
The information in this document is provided as a guide only
and is not professional advice, including legal advice. It should
not be assumed that the guidance is comprehensive or that it
provides a definitive answer in every case.
1
Revenue powers exercised in places other than a
Revenue office
Part 38-04-01

Tax and Duty Manual Part 38-04-01
2
Table of Contents
1 Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………………………..3
2 The need for Revenue powers…………………………………………………………………….3
2.1 Self-assessment ………………………………………………………………………………….3
2.2 Co-operation of taxpayers……………………………………………………………………4
2.3 Non-compliant behaviour…………………………………………………………………….4
3 The Customer Service Charter …………………………………………………………………….4
4 Authorised officers…………………………………………………………………………………….4
4.1 Verification powers……………………………………………………………………………..5
5 Visits to taxpayer’s premises ………………………………………………………………………5
5.1 Obligations of officers………………………………………………………………………….6
5.2 Entry to private residence ……………………………………………………………………6
6 Financial records of professional persons……………………………………………………..7
7 Seizure, search, entry and arrest powers………………………………………………………7
7.1 Seizure of goods………………………………………………………………………………….7
7.2 Search of an individual…………………………………………………………………………8
7.3 Entry to premises without consent ……………………………………………………….9
7.4 Arrest powers …………………………………………………………………………………….9
8 Stopping motor vehicles and other conveyances…………………………………………10
9 Removal of records………………………………………………………………………………….10
10 Requiring assistance from taxpayers and other persons ……………………………10
11 Garda assistance…………………………………………………………………………………..11
12 Monitoring the use of powers………………………………………………………………..12
13 Complaint and review procedures………………………………………………………….12

Tax and Duty Manual Part 38-04-01
3
1 Introduction

When dealing with taxpayers for revenue reasons in locations other than revenue offices, Revenue officers should follow the guidelines laid out in the Manual. On-site and mobile task units are used by Revenue agents to carry out these duties in all areas of California. There are also sections in the manual devoted to search capabilities. In order to guarantee that these Revenue powers are properly used and taxpayers are aware of their rights and obligations, the Manual was created.
The Commissioners of the Revenue have granted special authorization to Revenue personnel who are necessary to use Revenue authorities. All revenue officers who are authorised to exercise powers are given an Identity Card that lists the authorities they are authorised to exercise. Another form of written authorization, granted by another piece of legislation, may be available to the officer. When on outdoor duty, revenue officers are expected to carry their identification card and display it if requested.
For the purposes of this manual, the terms “authorised” and “authorised officer” refer to the process by which an officer is granted authority to carry out the duties and powers delegated to them by statute in the areas of excise, customs, and tax law, respectively. The terms “tax” and “taxpayer” refer to all taxes, duties, levies, and charges that fall under the purview of the Revenue Commissioners, respectively.

2 The need for Revenue powers
2.1 Self-assessment

There are a large number of transactions in which taxpayers and Revenue rely on taxpayer-provided information to process tax liabilities or fulfil other Revenue responsibilities on a “self-assessment” basis. Verification processes must be in place for all self-assessment systems in order for them to work. A wide range of powers provided by tax law enable Revenue’s functions in dealing with both compliant and noncompliant taxpayers to be carried out. In some cases, a personal visit to the taxpayer is the best way to meet the verification objectives.
Such a visit may be the only way of making progress in some situations.

Tax and Duty Manual Part 38-04-01
4
2.2 Co-operation of taxpayers

The vast majority of taxpaying citizens comply fully with all obligations of the Internal Revenue Service. As a result, Revenue is able to operate quickly and efficiently while causing the least amount of inconvenience to taxpayers. For example, only basic powers, such as those that allow for the examination and sampling of goods and admission to premises, are employed in everyday situations, such as those that allow for the examination and copying of records.

2.3 Non-compliant behaviour

Taxpayers who try to avoid their obligations and refuse to cooperate with Revenue regulations, particularly those related to audits and other visits, are a small minority. A failure to solve this issue would result in some taxpayers not paying their fair share of taxes or failing to complete their compliance requirements in full, putting other compliant taxpayers at a disadvantage.

3 The Customer Service Charter

Revenue officers must adhere to all applicable legal requirements and restrictions when exercising their authority under the Revenue Act. Customers’ rights and responsibilities are reflected in the Customer Service Charter, which all officers must adhere to at all times. Officers must also follow the Revenue Commissioners’ commands, instructions, and directives. As part of their responsibilities, Revenue officers must conduct their visits in a fair and unbiased manner while also taking into account any potential difficulty to taxpayers.

4 Authorised officers

Only officers who have been specifically authorised by the Revenue Commissioners to exercise revenue powers may do so. As part of their oversight of the tax collection process, the Revenue Commissioners ensure that only qualified officers are authorised, and that those officers receive sufficient training and instruction. Only after the proposal of a senior officer nominated by the Revenue Commissioners for this reason can an officer be authorised by the Revenue Commissioners.

Part 38-04-01 5 of the Tax and Duty Manual
His or her identification card lists the officer’s authority. All of the following information is included on the Identity Card: • the officer’s name • the officer’s photograph • the officer’s list of authorised legislation • the facsimile signature of the Revenue Commissioner by whom they were authorised • the Revenue Hologram.
In addition, the officer may possess a written document containing authority granted by another piece of legislation.
Section 858 of the Taxes Consolidation Act of 1997 provides for the Identity Card and its contents (TCA). When an officer presents his or her Identity Card to a person, it will be interpreted as proof of authorization and will meet the officer’s responsibility to present his or her authorization to that person when requested.

4.1 Verification powers

There are two types of verification powers available to Revenue officers: standard verification powers, which are usually used with the consent of the taxpayer, such as entering premises to examine, copy, or remove records (including computer records) and to examine and sample goods; and exceptional verification powers, which are only used in specific or unusual circumstances, such as searching for records and goods, detention, and seizure.

5 Visits to taxpayer’s premises

Taxpayer visits come into the following three categories: routine visits; inspection of records or stock, or examination of consignments; and extensive study of a taxpayer’s records.

Many visits by Revenue officials to taxpayers’ residences are for regular purposes, such as explaining a transaction or inspecting paperwork. This type of visit is short and can be done without an appointment. This visit may be rescheduled to avoid disruption to the taxpayer or to allow the officers to address any issues that arise in a more timely manner.
Examination of consignments, records, and inventory: Customs and Excise officers undertake unannounced visits to taxpayers’ residences to conduct record and stock checks and examinations. In order to minimise burden to taxpayers, these checks will be carried out in the most efficient manner feasible.
Most visits other than routine matters or stock checks or examinations of consignments are pre-scheduled by officers and the taxpayer and his or her advisors are accommodated at times convenient to both parties. Before the visit, taxpayers are informed of the date, time, and purpose of the inspection, as well as the records that will be examined.

5.1 Obligations of officers

Meeting with a taxpayer necessitates the officer showing their ID card and stating the reason for their visit. Additionally, officers should hand out business cards that provide their office’s location and phone number.
Customs and Excise checks conducted in clearly defined areas of operation where officials can be easily identified are exempt from these procedures (for example, at sea and air terminals). Officers should, however, always carry their official identification card with them and be prepared to present it when requested.
If you have a busy schedule, it’s best to schedule a visit at a time that doesn’t disrupt your daily routine. Compliance with reasonable demands from an officer should enable most visits or meetings to be completed quickly and effectively, avoiding the need for repeated visits or a lengthy audit or investigation.
It is possible that advance notice of a visit might not be acceptable in some cases, so the typical method for advance notice of visits would not apply.

5.2 Entry to private residence

Only with the permission of the occupant can routine or pre-arranged visits be made to the private dwelling section of the property. Only in the conditions outlined in paragraph 7 below would it be permissible to enter such property without permission.)

Tax and Duty Manual Part 38-04-01
7
6 Financial records of professional persons

Officers have the authority to inspect the financial records of professionals as part of their duties. Officers will refrain from interfering with expert advice given to customers. As a result, they will not inquire into any information supplied by clients to their advisers, including any information that might be relevant to court proceedings or settlements.

7 Seizure, search, entry and arrest powers

In order to combat tax evasion and obstruction, revenue legislation includes measures that grant certain non-routine authorities. Among them are the powers of seizure, search, admission to properties (including private residences in some circumstances) to conduct inquiries or investigations, and the right to arrest in certain limited circumstances.
To ensure that these powers remain controlled and defined, the Revenue Commissioners have made a concerted effort. These powers can only be used in special circumstances, and not in the course of a normal or pre-arranged visit where the taxpayer cooperates with the officer, as is the case in most cases. There are varying levels of management from which consent must be acquired depending on the level of power being used.

7.1 Seizure of goods

If goods supplied at zero-rate VAT in another Member State are held for sale on the home market, or if goods are supplied by a taxable person who does not register for VAT, a detention of goods will emerge in a VAT investigation.
Revenue authorities may also detain or seize the following items:
Imported or exported goods that have not cleared Customs or have not been charged import duties; goods that are prohibited or restricted from import or export; motor vehicles on which Vehicle Registration Tax or VAT has been evaded;

Part 38-04-01 8 of the Tax and Duty Manual
Vehicles or conveyances used in the transportation of goods subject to forfeiture, as above; materials and equipment used to remove the marker from gas oil or kerosene; materials and equipment used to make goods subject to forfeiture, as above; goods on which excise duty has been evaded; rebated marked gas oil (diesel) or kerosene from which the proper markers (chemical marker and colourant) have been removed;
An itemised list of the items detained by an officer must be provided to the taxpayer, as well as a notice of seizure in the event that the commodities are being formally confiscated. Officers will, to the extent possible, minimise the annoyance to the driver and occupants of detained vehicles or conveyances.

7.2 Search of an individual

Unless an officer has a reasonable basis to believe an individual is hiding information that could be used in criminal actions connected to VAT on his or her person, a search of an individual other than for Customs purposes is not warranted. If a Customs officer has grounds to think that an individual possesses items that have not been declared on his or her person and has not been able to produce them upon request, he or she will conduct a search of the subject.
In these searches, just the wearer’s outer garments are examined; no other clothing or intimate body searches are performed except in cases of suspected drug smuggling. Customs agents working in this sensitive region employ the most recent best practises in cooperation with their superior officers when dealing with suspected drug smugglers. Neither the IRS nor any of its agents conduct internal body searches. It is only permitted to conduct a search on a person of the right gender by an officer.
Section 30 of the Customs Act 2015 gives Customs officers the authority to conduct a search of an individual.

Part 38-04-01 9 of the Tax and Duty Manual
An individual search is not permitted by Section 138 of Finance Act 2001, but receptacles can be searched in connection with suspected tobacco violations.

7.3 Entry to premises without consent

A search of any premises will arise only if prohibited, smuggled or illicit goods (including illegally manufactured alcohol or tobacco products or fuel from which prescribed markers have been removed) or documents relating to smuggling or evasion are believed to be present, or in other limited circumstances. For example, a search of premises would happen if an individual does not produce records or goods required for examination when requested to do so and an officer has reason to believe that the records or goods required for examination are in the premises and would constitute evidence of serious evasion.
Entry to a premises under a search warrant, where that is required, may occur in cases dealt with by Investigations and Prosecutions Division in the course of investigation with a view to prosecution, and in cases investigated by enforcement staff in Customs Division.
Entry by an officer to a premises, or a portion of a premises, which is occupied wholly and exclusively as a private residence, without the consent of the occupier, arises only in limited circumstances and requires approval at senior management level in all cases, as well as a Court Order or search warrant as prescribed by law.

7.4 Arrest powers

If there are reasonable suspicions that a criminal offence in regard to VAT has been committed by an individual who is not established in the State or who is expected to leave the State, a Revenue officer may arrest that individual for VAT reasons.
Arrest may be necessary in Customs or Excise cases if an officer has reasonable suspicion that a significant offence has been committed. An arrest will only be conducted as a last option in most circumstances other than drug smuggling. While there are many reasons for an arrest to be made, some of the more common ones are: 1) the person being sought is not a resident of the state; 2) an officer is being seriously obstructed or assaulted during an investigation (such as in the prevention of smuggling, at an oil laundry or at an illicit still).
Tax stamp offences do not fall under Section 139 of the Finance Act 2001’s authority to detain under the authority of the Excise Department. In contrast, that clause gives a detention power to designated personnel for the purpose of handing over a person to An Garda Sochána.

Part 38-04-01 10 of the Tax and Duty Manual
Section 32 of the Customs Act of 2015 gives customs officers the authority to make arrests.

8 Stopping motor vehicles and other conveyances

It is possible for Customs or Excise officers to ask a driver to halt a vehicle if they feel it is transporting illicit items or products subject to excise taxation. Checking for Vehicle Registration Tax may also require a vehicle to be pulled over (see section 134 Finance Act 2001). Only uniformed police officers will be able to halt a car, and plainly visible signs will be put along the roadside at regular intervals. The vehicle and its contents will be thoroughly examined as soon as feasible. Boats, vessels, and other modes of transportation may also be requested to come to a halt by officers for inspection.
Members of An Garda Sochána and tax officers can work together on activities of this type.
Section 26 of the Customs Act of 2015 gives customs officials the authority to halt moving vehicles, while Section 27 of the same law gives them the authority to board and search moving vehicles.

9 Removal of records

Officers are required to provide the taxpayer with a list of the records removed from the location where they are working, and in some cases, the list might be endorsed jointly by both them and the taxpayer. It is ideal if the officer can give an approximate time frame for when the documents will be returned, but this may not always be possible (for example, if the records are taken as part of an investigation with the goal of criminal prosecution).
Copies of records that were removed and are needed by the taxpayer shall be provided to the taxpayer, or if necessary, a limited access to the records removed will be granted to the taxpayer.
As quickly as feasible, the taxpayer will receive the records that were erased. For legal proceedings, if records are needed by Revenue, they will be returned after the conclusion of those procedures.

10 Requiring assistance from taxpayers and other persons

Taxpayers or the person designated by the taxpayer to interact with the officer will typically be the ones who receive requests for reasonable assistance, such as information, explanations, and documents, during Revenue visits. They are made in an informal and cooperative manner in Tax and Duty Manual Part 38-04-01 11. Authorities have the right to request reasonable help from taxpayers or others, but they will only consider a formal request in cases where those being investigated refuse to cooperate with usual requests from officers.
When police need to use their statutory authority, they will make it plain to the people they are dealing with. Section 902 of the TCA should be consulted.
If the taxpayer is a corporation, the secretary, directors, senior executives, or other person designated to assist the Revenue officer must provide reasonable assistance; if the taxpayer is an individual, the taxpayer must provide reasonable assistance; and if the taxpayer is not an individual, employees of the taxpayer other than those mentioned specifically at the beginning of this paragraph must provide reasonable assistance (i).
It is only possible for officials to ask for help with their personal emoluments, tax affairs, or roles inside their employer’s business if they fall within category (iii). Officers don’t need help with their employer’s or other people’s personal tax matters.)
Anyone not listed above will only have access to this ability if it is granted to them by a senior officer designated by the Revenue Commissioners for this purpose. Refer to TDM Part 38-04-02 and other manuals on Revenue powers for additional information.
It is prohibited for police on site visits to request help from members of the public who are on the premises to purchase goods or get services save for Customs or Excise.

11 Garda assistance

An Garda Sochána officer may be accompanied by another officer under Section 906 TCA and certain aspects of Customs and Excise legislation. If it is thought that an officer may be impeded or dangerous substances are being smuggled, then the Garda presence will be necessary.

12 Monitoring the use of powers

For the Revenue Commissioners, monitoring and reviewing how they work is a top priority. Unless a smuggling case necessitates quick action, officials must have discussed and received prior consent from more senior authorities before taking any action. There are varying levels of management from which consent must be acquired depending on the level of power being used.

13 Complaint and review procedures

Anyone who has had dealings with Revenue agents has the right to have such dealings reviewed. In Revenue’s Complaint and Review Procedures Leaflet, you’ll find detailed instructions on how to file a complaint (CS4). Stages one, two, and three
The first step is to file a formal complaint with the Revenue office where your matter is being handled (the Local Office).
There is an option if the issue cannot be fixed or if you are dissatisfied with the outcome:
Stage 2: Ask for a local review to be conducted by the manager (principal officer) of the local office or, in some cases, by the manager (principal officer) of the relevant divisional office, as appropriate.
There is an option for you if you are not satisfied with the conclusion of the Local Review.
Request a review, either by an internal or external reviewer, at this stage.
There is no need to go to the local or divisional office to request a local review. The contact information can be found on the Revenue website’s contact locator page. Contact the Review Secretariat, Revenue Commissioners, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2, to request an Internal or External Review.