Wednesday 16 October 2019

Revenue Commissioners' offshore probe lands €40m


Revenue Commissioner Josephine Feehily. Photo: PA
Revenue Commissioner Josephine Feehily. Photo: PA

Emmet Oliver Deputy Business Editor

SOME 235 wealthy individuals who set up offshore trusts in locations such as the Isle of Man, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, have now paid over €40m to the Revenue Commissioners.

The probe of offshore activities -- which began in late 2009 -- is continuing with banks asked to provide details if they were involved in facilitating the setting up of the offshore structures.

A trust involves an individual transferring assets into a structure for the benefit of another party -- usually a family member. However, the Revenue Commissioners have been investigating whether tax was ever paid on the assets placed in the trust originally.

Based on the current numbers, the average settlement has been about €171,000 per person.

The Revenue Commissioners are continuing to examine paperwork submitted by taxpayers and also examining previous settlements made by taxpayers, who may not have disclosed offshore structures.

It is understood that over the last few years over 1,100 people set up offshore trusts, but the Revenue have made it clear many of these were fully tax compliant. The Revenue points out that by their nature trust cases are complex and involve different offshore structures and the investigations can be time-consuming.

The Revenue Commissioners have been obtaining court orders requiring banks to reveal the identity of customers who have placed funds in a number of offshore jurisdictions.

They have been warning for some time about the growth of the "shadow'' economy, insisting that during recessions extra resources are often needed for tax collection agencies.

Last week the Revenue said it could raise €600m in extra revenue annually, if certain changes were made in how tax is collected and in how tax debt is chased down.

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