Sunday 28 May 2017

Schools and GPs facing surprise Revenue visits

Unannounced checks loom as plunging tax returns prompt fresh clampdown on cheats

Emmet Oliver Deputy Business Editor

THE Revenue Commissioners is making unannounced visits to pharmacies, dentists, schools and charities in a fresh clampdown on potential tax evasion involving employees not properly registered for tax, the Irish Independent has learnt.

The Revenue is doing audits to establish whether all the people working there are categorised correctly for tax purposes.

Asked about the scale of the probe, a Revenue spokeswoman said: "We are continuing to examine the employment status of individuals across a multiplicity of sectors to ensure that they are correctly classified." Revenue declined to say how many premises have been visited.

The Irish Independent understands that Revenue staff have conducted audits of GPs' locum arrangements, of temporary pharmacy workers and also of dental hygienists.

The focus has been to identify cases where self-employed status was incorrectly applied and where PAYE should have operated.

The self-employed must register with the Revenue in their own right and also complete an annual tax return. The self-employed must be providing services to more than one person (or organisation) to be categorised as self-employed.

Accountants in various locations have also reported that Revenue is starting to make unannounced visits to schools.

Charities

One source familiar with the recent activity said some charities were so supportive of their own charitable objectives they seemed to ignore the requirement to operate the PAYE system in the normal way.

It has been reported by accountants dealing with Revenue that the directors of one national charity were threatened with prosecution if any further examples of "non-compliance'' with tax law were identified.

School principals in particular have been warned to exercise care when allowing employees to register as self-employed.

The Revenue is determined to improve tax compliance at present as returns for the exchequer have plunged.

Income tax, the largest source of revenue, is now way off boom-year highs.

The Revenue is also looking to identify tax schemes that enable people to avoid or evade tax. This has prompted the Government to introduce a mandatory reporting regime, where those designing and administering such schemes must report them to Revenue proactively.

This regime has caused a lot of concern among accountants, solicitors and bankers involved in designing or advising on such schemes. The issue of legal privilege has also arisen but the Government claims the scheme won't infringe this principle.

Irish Independent

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