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Revenue wrote off more than €1bn in unpaid taxes

REVENUE Commissioners have written off more than €1bn in lost taxes from businesses that have gone bust over the past decade.

They have effectively abandoned any hope of clawing back the massive tax take from firms who failed to pass on fiduciary taxes -- PAYE, PRSI and VAT -- which they had collected from employees and customers. Businesses hold such taxes in trust and are supposed to pass them on to Revenue at a later date.

However, new figures reveal a total of €1.07bn was not collected from 90,100 businesses in the nine-year period from 2000 to 2009.

According to the Revenue Commissioners, more than €140m was written off in fiduciary taxes between January and September of 2009 -- that was almost 93pc of all tax written off by the Revenue in the period and a hike of 80pc on the €78m written off in 2000.

The CEO of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, Mark Fielding, said banks must start lending again in order to keep firms alive.

He warned: "The danger is that more companies will go whallop this year, meaning a further loss of fiduciary taxes."

IBEC senior economist Fergal O'Brien said the Government also needed a stronger strategy to ensure such tax write-offs did not occur in the future.

He said: "There is a massive need for credit to flow to small and medium businesses."

The Department of Enterprise and Employment insisted the Government was doing everything it could to help firms in the current crisis.

However, Fine Gael enterprise spokesman Leo Varadkar said the cost of doing business was too high for many firms.

He added: "Gas and ESB prices are still very high for businesses who find it hard to trade in the current climate."

Irish Independent