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Revenue use estate agents to catch tax dodgers

THE Revenue Commissioners are to use estate agents to find out if investors are evading tax by under-declaring the amount they received for the sale of land or property.

If tax officials suspect they have been given incorrect information, valuers will be called in to calculate the market value of buildings or land so the correct amount of capital gains tax (CGT) can be levied.

The estate agents, who will not have been involved in the sale, are expected to provide an independent valuation of commercial or residential property and development land so tax collectors can ensure they are receiving the correct amount of CGT.

The tax, which is charged at 20pc of the sale price of assets, is charged on property transactions which do not involve a family home. The agents will only be used in cases where Revenue suspect the amount a property was sold for has been under-declared to reduce a tax bill.

Examples where estate agents could be used include where there was a property sale between 'connected persons' such as family members or business partners.

Another case could be where Revenue are seeking the value of a property on a particular date, for cases where a person under investigation died.

There is also provision in tax law that a property sold within three years of purchase can be opened up for re-valuation.

Estate agents will also be obliged to represent the Revenue Commissioners in cases which go to arbitration or the courts.

The move comes as part of Revenue's greater focus on risk which will see the development of new audit and compliance programmes to cover areas of "emerging risk", including taxes that have grown significantly in recent years.

Valuers, who must be members of the Society of Chartered Surveyors in Ireland or of the Irish Auctioneers and Valuers Institute (IAVI) or equivalents, will be obliged to compile reports on property values for use in audit cases where Revenue are investigating an individual or company.

Service

Although the Valuation Office used to provide the service to Revenue, it has since been decided to sub-contract it to the private sector.

"They're complex cases. The taxpayer might have a different valuation, and there could be questions as to whether you paid the market value," a Revenue spokesman said.

The valuers will assess the accuracy of valuations provided by taxpayers or their agents, and will have to provide a report explaining and justifying how they reached their valuation.

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"Clearly this will be particularly important when this valuation differs from that provided by the taxpayer or his agent," the spokesman said.


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