In order to allow taxpayers to file with certainty, the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA) will, in certain circumstances, provide its opinion on the tax consequences of specific circumstances or transactions.
Before asking for a WRA tax opinion you must first have consulted the relevant WRA guidance to see if this answers your question(s).
What information you need to provide
To help you decide what information is relevant to your application when you write to the WRA you should use the following checklist:
The WRA asks for this information to make sure it understands the background to your request and where your uncertainty lies. This helps to process your application more quickly.
When you write to the WRA you must certify that the information you give is, to the best of your knowledge and belief, complete and correct.
When the WRA will provide an opinion
If you have done the following you can ask the WRA for an opinion:
- fully considered the relevant guidance, and
- not been able to find the information you need, or
- remain uncertain about the WRA's interpretation of devolved tax legislation
The WRA will then set out its opinion in writing.
When the WRA will not provide an opinion
If you ask for an opinion and the WRA does not provide it, we will tell you why. For example:
- the WRA will not provide views on speculative or hypothetical circumstances and/or transactions, or answer “what if” type queries
- you haven't provided all the necessary information - see the checklist above for details of what you need to provide
- the WRA doesn't think that there are genuine points of uncertainty - we will explain why we think this and, where appropriate, direct you to the relevant online guidance
- you're asking the WRA to give tax planning advice, or to 'approve' tax planning products or arrangements
- your application is about treatment of transactions which, in the WRA's view, are for the purposes of avoiding tax
- you’re asking about the possible application of the general anti-avoidance rule (GAAR)
- the WRA is checking your tax position for the period in question, in which case you will need to contact the WRA official dealing with the check
- any related return for the period or transaction in question is final.
Where you should submit your request for an opinion
It is most efficient to submit your request for a tax opinion via the contact form. The contact form allows you to upload attachments.
Alternatively, requests may be sent by post to the following address:
Welsh Revenue Authority Tax Opinions
Welsh Revenue Authority,
PO Box 110
How long the WRA will take to reply
The WRA will usually give a full reply within 25 working days, and straightforward cases may be dealt with more quickly than this. But where difficult or complicated issues are involved it may take us longer to reply. If this is the case, the WRA will acknowledge your request and tell you when you can expect a full reply.
Sometimes the WRA may need to ask you to provide more information before it can send you a full reply. Where further information has been requested, you should provide this promptly so that the WRA can respond. The WRA will suspend the handling time for your application until you're able to provide the additional information requested. If there are delays to the provision of information requested by the WRA, you may be asked to submit a new tax opinion request to ensure that the WRA has an up-to-date view of the facts.
The WRA may also wish to contact you by telephone for clarification, so it helps if you can provide a day time contact number.
The WRA's tax opinion does not affect time limits, interest and penalties
The WRA’s tax opinion does not affect the date by which you have to submit your return or pay your tax. You may have to pay interest and late payment penalties on any tax that you pay late, for whatever reason.
If you've asked for a tax opinion before a transaction has taken place, but not received this by the time your return is due to be submitted, then you should still send your completed return in on time.
If you send the WRA your return on time, you won't be liable to penalties for failing to make a return. When you receive the WRA's response you can, if necessary, amend your tax return as long as you are within the normal time limits to do so.
If you disagree with the WRA's tax opinion of your circumstance or transaction and complete your return and pay tax in accordance with your own view of the proper tax treatment, then you may not have paid the right amount of tax at the right time. In such circumstances, if your return contains a careless or deliberate error which results in a loss of tax or an inflated claim to repayment of tax, then you may be liable to interest and penalties.
When you can rely on a tax opinion provided by the WRA
Provided the information you have supplied is accurate and complete, and you carry out the proposed circumstance or transaction exactly as you describe them, you will generally be able to rely on the WRA’s tax opinion. However, a tax opinion cannot be relied on if the transaction forms part of or is in respect of a tax avoidance or evasion arrangement. A WRA tax opinion only applies to the taxpayer who sought it (either directly or via their agent) and to the particular circumstance or transaction in relation to which the tax opinion was sought. WRA tax opinions have no application to other taxpayers, circumstances or transactions.
What you can do if you disagree
While the WRA aims to give you a clear reply to your questions, sometimes you may not agree with the WRA’s opinion, or you may not be happy with the service provided.
If you disagree with the WRA's tax opinion you may complete your return in accordance with your own view of the proper tax treatment, but you should draw the WRA's attention to the particular entry in your return, or write to the WRA separately at the same time as you submit your return and explain what you have done.
If you believe that the WRA has failed to take account of some of the material facts set out in your tax opinion request, please contact the WRA to explain what facts you feel were overlooked.
If you're unhappy with the way the WRA has handled your request, as distinct from being unhappy with the tax opinion the WRA has given, please tell the person you have been dealing with. If they're unable to resolve the issue, you may be able to make a complaint.
Whether you can appeal
There is no general right of appeal against WRA tax opinions. Rather, appeal rights are usually against decisions the WRA takes, such as issuing an assessment for underpaid tax or imposing a penalty.
If you disagree with the opinion expressed by the WRA, you may submit your return and pay tax in accordance with your view. However, as noted above, you may then pay the wrong amount of tax and potentially be liable to interest and penalties.