Revenue probe targets 'close' companies in investment sector
Firms in the investment and banking sectors have received letters from the Revenue Commissioners concerning "compliance'' issues which have been identified over recent months.
The Revenue's large cases division sent out the notices in recent weeks and the Irish Independent understands they concern mainly investment-type companies.
The probe of compliance concerns so-called "close companies'', firms controlled by less than five shareholders.
These firms usually hold the proceeds of financial investments or properties and must be resident in Ireland. These companies must pay out the proceeds regularly to their owners or they face a surcharge.
The Revenue declined to specify the kind of companies being looked at or whether they were primarily based in the IFSC, simply describing them as "financial services companies''.
Revenue recently told the accountancy bodies the letters were sent to all companies identified on their systems as close companies.
The Revenue emphasised there was only compliance issues with a minority of the firms and discussions were ongoing.
"It looks to me like an enforcement issue,'' said one tax expert last night. He said the Revenue were highly active at present after an aggressive target was set for tax collection in 2011.
Revenue collected €31.9bn last year and it is understood it could collect about €34bn this year.
The tax take in Ireland is down 33pc on the peak of 2007 when property-related receipts were at their most buoyant.
"The maintenance of a high level of timely compliance is a task that requires sensitivity and sound judgment, as many businesses and individuals struggle to make ends meet,'' said the Revenue's chairwoman Josephine Feehily recently.
"Our approach is tempered by a concern not to impose undue burdens on taxpayers experiencing temporary cash-flow difficulties.
"We can, and do, put alternative payment arrangements in place to help customers through difficult periods," Ms Feehily added.
The Revenue is also pursuing a high-profile investigation of those holding bank accounts in Switzerland and Lichtenstein, although it emphasises that many of these account holders have declared these accounts in previous investigations.