Revenue Tax Briefing Issue 52, May 2003
The purpose of this article is to clarify Revenue’s policy in relation to the obligations on telecommunication service providers and other persons to retain records under both the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997 and the VAT Act, 1972 in respect of personal data relating to telephone calls made by individual subscribers to telecommunication services.
Section 886 TCA 1997 imposes an obligation on taxpayers, including telecommunication service providers, to keep certain records. The definition of “records” is quite broad and includes accounts, books of account, documents and other data maintained manually or by electronic, photographic or other process, relating to:
Section 16 VAT Act, 1972 also imposes an obligation on persons who are obliged under the VAT Act to operate VAT, to keep full and true records of all transactions which affect or may affect that person’s VAT liability.
The general rule is that details of the dialled number, the date and time and duration of particular calls are not records that are required to be kept by telecommunication service providers or taxpayers for the purpose of any tax. The word “tax” means any tax, duty, levy or charge under the care and management of the Revenue Commissioners.
However, this general rule does not apply to invoices, bills or other documents, or parts thereof, insofar as such documents or such parts show total billing amounts, or breakdowns of total billing amounts into categories of a general or aggregate nature. Accordingly, where one part of a document consists of a page or pages showing the total billing amount (or showing a breakdown of this billing amount into general or aggregate categories), and another part of the same document consists of a page or pages showing details of particular telephone calls made by individual subscribers, only the page or pages showing the total billing amount (or showing the breakdown of this amount as aforesaid) need be retained for tax purposes.
Revenue reserve the right to withdraw this policy in light of their ongoing operational requirements.