A Revenue Commissioner’s spokesman said in the region of 25,000 to 30,000 “put up your hands or else” letters would be sent to suspected tax rogues within the next 10 days to a fortnight giving them a 60-day deadline to come forward.
“It is difficult to say how many people will be involved as the letters are being addressed to combinations of the names involved — including variations like O or Mac before surnames — in case people tried to disguise their identity,” the spokesman said.
The last warning letters that the Revenue sent out in October brought in an extra euro 100 million to add to the euro 550 million already collected.
One tax dodger had to hand over euro 6 million and there were a large number of sizable payments in excess of euro 100,000.
Those who were contacted and failed to respond now face additional penalties and interest charges. Now, assessment and enforcement action for them will also include investigation with a view to prosecution.
A special unit of tax officials, lawyers and accountants involved in the probe are culling the names and addresses of the tax dodgers from a huge quantity of documentation that has been handed over by banks and building societies on foot of court orders. “At this stage we have more or less got all the information from the financial institutions through the court orders.
The Revenue has never given a definitive overall estimate of how many tax dodgers opened bogus accounts going back to the 1970s. The 14-month investigation by the Oireachtas “watchdog”, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), suggested there could have been as many as 50,000.
“We said there could be somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000 of these accounts. We are making progress and are in this for the long haul. This latest batch of letters is by no means the end of it,” the spokesman said.
Look-back audits of 37 financial institutions following the PAC inquiry brought in euro 220 million. A Nov. 27, 2001 voluntary disclosure program resulted in euro 227 million being paid when 3,675 people owned up to 8,380 bogus accounts.