THE taxman has toughened up his campaign to bankrupt people who refuse to pay their tax bills.
The Revenue Commissioners has emerged as one of the biggest bankruptcy petitioners in the High Court where it is currently involved in some 37 cases against defaulters who refuse to settle their outstanding tax bills.
Revenue was the petitioning creditor in six bankruptcies in 2010, compared to four in 2009 and just three in 2008. But it is now one of the main players in the bankruptcy division of the High Court.
Ireland's bankruptcy figures are traditionally low because of the severe consequences including a 12-year term before a bankrupt is discharged.
Just eight people were declared bankrupt in 2008, but last year 29 people were made bankrupt according to new figures released to the Irish Independent.
So far this year, seven people have been made bankrupt and the Revenue has confirmed that it has moved against six people since January alone.
James Treacy, managing director of 'BusinessPro', the publisher of debt weekly 'Stubbs Gazette', said that it was inevitable that the Revenue would dominate bankruptcy actions as it is already the biggest player in debt actions in the courts.
The volume of Revenue's debt actions has increased by 17pc in the first six weeks of 2011 compared to the same period last year. The value of claims has also increased by 27pc.
"Revenue, followed by credit unions, are the most prolific players in the courts," said Mr Treacy, who predicted "an avalanche" in bankruptcy actions once the government introduces a new personal insolvency and debt regime as required under the EU/IMF deal.
The Revenue, whose claims rank ahead of ordinary creditors, said that bankruptcy is just one of a range of enforcement options to force debtors to face up to their debts.
"Each non-compliant case is individually assessed by a caseworker prior to referral to enforcement to ensure that the most appropriate enforcement option is taken, given the known circumstances of the case," said a spokesman.