Why do they exist?
The commissioners were created when income tax was first introduced in Jersey in 1928 and are completely independent of the taxes office. They exist as the first point of appeal for a taxpayer who is in dispute with the comptroller of taxes. They hear appeals in private and their decisions are not published.
Can anybody be a commissioner?
Any person who is resident in Jersey who has experience in financial matters but who is not actively engaged in any trade business or profession can be appointed by the States on the recommendation of the Treasury and Resources Minister following advice from the Treasurer of the States. The qualities required in a commissioner are those that would be expected in any person making judgements and exercising powers over their fellow citizens. A commissioner should:
- be independent, impartial and confident
- possess common sense, integrity and patience
- have excellent communication skills
- give direction, take advice and share responsibility
- have the ability to understand the principles of income tax and GST
- be able to determine in a just manner the issues coming before them
What are their powers?
The commissioners have extensive powers to enable them to discharge their functions. They are to:
- obtain expert advice in cases where they consider it necessary
- postpone or adjourn the hearing of an appeal
- issue precepts to obtain informationto put questions to the appellant or their representative
- summon and examine witnesses
- conduct an appeal hearing in the manner considered most suitable
- amend assessments
- confirm assessments
- review their final determination
How many commissioners are there?
The total number of commissioners that can be appointed by the States is 11. When any 3 out of the 11 meet, a quorum is constituted for the purpose of hearing appeals.
Where are their meeting held?
Appeals are currently heard at the office of the clerk to the commissioners. An appeal meeting is never heard at the taxes office.
What kind of appeals do they hear?
There are 2 types of appeal usually heard by the commissioners.
The first kind is commonly referred to as a 'delay' case, where the appellant has lodged an appeal against his assessment but has not submitted the tax returns or business accounts or other relevant information to show the assessment is incorrect.
The second type is a contentious appeal in which the appellant or his advisers are in dispute with the comptroller of taxes over matters of fact or law.
What is the procedure for getting an appeal heard?
If an appellant wishes to have an appeal heard by the commissioners, the most convenient way to do this is to inform the comptroller, who will then advise the clerk to the commissioners. The clerk will arrange the appeal meeting and then advise the appellant of the time, date and place of the hearing.
What happens at the commissioners meeting?
Many appellants, and even some advisers, find themselves in an unaccustomed situation when they appear before the commissioners. So far as it appears appropriate, therefore, the commissioners will seek to avoid formality in procedure and determine in which order the parties to the appeal will be heard.
For example, in 'delay' cases, the chairman of the commissioners may ask the comptroller to introduce the appeal and give some background information, then ask the appellant to present his case. It is important to remember that the commissioners are impartial and that it is their responsibility to ensure the appellant has a fair hearing.
When do the commissioners give their decision to an appeal?
The commissioners' decision is usually given orally at the end of the hearing.
What can I do if I disagree with their decision?
If an appellant does not accept the commissioners' decision, he must immediately express dissatisfaction and give notice to the commissioners of his intention to appeal to the Royal Court. He then has 21 days in which to bring the appeal to the Royal Court.