Tax officials are warned not to share 'inside' knowledge
The head of the Revenue Commissioners, Josephine Feehily, has warned senior colleagues leaving the organisation they are not allowed to share their professional knowledge with the private sector upon retirement or when they take a career break.
Ms Feehily told members of the Revenue's senior management at a meeting in Trim, Co Meath, recently that those departing, even for short-term work arrangements, must obey rules governing outside employment in the private sector.
Large sections of the Revenue Commissioners have been decimated by staff departures in the second half of 2009, including the large cases division, which deals with the wealthiest taxpayers. The organisation said the main reason for defections and retirements was the organisation's older age profile.
Senior tax practices in Dublin are believed to be interested in hiring some of the tax inspectors, often on multiples of their current salaries.
The recent imposition of the pension levy and other public sector pay cuts has, in some cases, created a gap between what senior tax inspectors can earn in the private sector compared to the public sector.
Ms Feehily reminded her senior colleagues at the meeting in October that they needed to be aware of the potential for conflicts of interest when members of the Revenue Commissioners accept jobs outside the civil service.
According to standards in public office rules, the main area of difficulty arises when a tax inspector joins a company he or she previously had official dealings with. Very senior tax inspectors are not allowed accept a private sector position within 12 months of leaving the Revenue Commissioners.
But according to the rules set out by the Standards in Public Office Commission, this only applies if the nature of the appointment "could lead to a conflict of interest''. Even after year has elapsed senior tax inspectors must continue to observe the Official Secrets Act.
Tax inspectors below assistant secretary level must apply to the head of the organisation for permission to take up a private sector role.
Officers at and above assistant secretary level must apply to the Outside Appointments Board, the state body that covers the entire public sector.
Applications from tax inspectors are considered by the authorities "on the basis of determining whether or not a clear conflict of interest exists''.
Approval to take up a private sector role may either be unconditional or have conditions attached.