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Small changes at Revenue could raise over €600m

THE Revenue Commissioners has told the Government the organisation could raise over €600m in extra revenue if a number of small changes were made.

In a submission made to the Department of Public Expenditure, the organisation also delivered its severest warning yet about the impact the public service recruitment embargo is having on tax collection.

About 560 people are due to retire between now and 2014 from the Revenue, removing key skills and experience, the service warned.

The organisation claimed that, for very little cost, a huge increase in taxes collected would be possible. Among the measures it supports is €255m, which would come from better management of long-term tax debts.

Changing the way the Universal Social Charge is collected could produce revenues of €50m, while €100m would come from wider withholding taxes on professionals.

A general increase in auditing work and investigations would bring in €100m of extra revenues, while a small €4m saving would come from stopping the use of "expensive'' outside IT consultants, and instead recruiting specialists at a graduate level.

"Revenue's staffing is back at the level it was in 1976 -- but our contribution will principally be on the revenue collection side of the equation,'' stated the paper.

"Increased non-compliance would more than outweigh any savings on staff and, in fact, many revenue administrations recruit additional staff in a recession because of the increased risks,'' it added.

"In the area on non-pay expenditure, Revenue needs an ongoing adequate IT budget to enable us to continue to take transactions out of the system, thereby releasing staff for compliance work, and to enable us to keep improving our risk analysis,'' the paper explained.

The service -- headed up by chairwoman Josephine Feehily -- has been given targets by the Department of Public Expenditure, but it wants to stretch these out so it can cope with the level of departures.

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The departures will have dramatic effects, the organisation explained. "Due to the profile of our staff, we expect to lose further significant numbers of experienced and knowledgeable staff to retirement.''

The complexity of its work is increasing at the same time.

"Due to the current economic conditions, the ownership and relationships with business are often more complex, eg increased receiverships, examinerships and liquidations.''

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