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New tough tax plan to catch dodgers

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN – As a series of high profiles tax scandals were revealed to be much bigger than had been believed, a new get tough policy on tax dodgers was pledged by the Revenue Commissioners in an attempt to repair their image.

The inquiry into the Ansbacher accounts scandal has widened from the original 120 people to include 400 more individuals, trusts and companies.

Only 40 people have come forward to pay £8 million on account for taxes owned, interest and penalties. The payments do not represent full and final settlements.

The ongoing investigation into the National Irish Bank scandal has so far yielded £22 million as a result of the Australian-owned bank’s sale of unauthorized offshore investment products.

Seeking underlying tax on the DIRT scandal will involve over 50,000 tax cheats but only £7 million has come in so far.

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Over 18,000 tax audits last year yielded £310 million as a result of under-payment of taxes.

Collection enforcement programs involving solicitors and sheriffs recovered another £83 million from more than 21,000 cases.

Tax inspectors are closely monitoring the Moriarty and Flood tribunal allegations of widespread evasion.

Responding to criticism of their failure to vigorously pursue tax cheats in the past when he launched the Revenue’s report for last year, chairman Dermot Quigley outlined a three-year strategy that involves new moves to deter and tackle tax dodgers.

"Revenue acknowledges the damage done to public confidence from the events of recent years and is committed to addressing this issue.

"A central part of the strategy is restoring public confidence is the establishment of new Large Cases (including wealthy individuals) and Prosecutions Divisions."

Quigley warned tens of thousands of tax dodgers involved in the DIRT tax scandal to "pay up or else" before a 15 November deadline.

An unprecedented inquiry by an Oireachtas watchdog body into DIRT tax has already led to a trawl through the books of the country’s 37 banks and financial institutions going back to 1986.

That ‘look-back audit’ by Revenue inspectors resulted in the institutions paying £173 million in DIRT (Deposit Interest Retention Tax).

DIRT was levied at 35 percent and the financial institutions were required to collect it from their accounts for the Revenue Commissioners.

Now the second stage of the process is underway — getting the unpaid tax on the capital in the accounts from the individuals who opened bogus non-resident accounts.

The Commissioners estimate there may be 50,000 bogus accounts but many observers think the problem is much bigger.

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