Tuesday 20 November 2018

Tax amnesty economist who broke black economy dies

Frank Brennan: Wrote the seminal article ‘The Last Chance Saloon’ which set the ball rolling for a tax amnesty
Frank Brennan: Wrote the seminal article ‘The Last Chance Saloon’ which set the ball rolling for a tax amnesty

Paul Williams

Dr Frank Brennan, the widely respected economist and tax consultant who designed the blueprint for tackling Ireland's black economy in the early 1990s, has died following a long illness.

A native of Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, Dr Brennan first produced an extensive research paper which laid out a road map for how black money could be harnessed to kick-start an otherwise stagnant economy.

He used his research as the basis for a seminal article on the subject in the Sunday Business Post, entitled 'The Last Chance Saloon', which convinced former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds to establish a tax amnesty.

The amnesty was credited with helping to turn the fortunes of the Irish economy from bust to boom.

After qualifying from UCD, where he was a friend of former Labour minister Ruairi Quinn and economist Moore McDowell, Frank Brennan worked with the Revenue Commissioners before joining accountancy firms Ernst and Young and later Stokes Kennedy Crowley.

In 1978 he became the country's first independent tax consultant, which was unheard of at the time, and built a hugely successful practice over the following three decades. He was the second person in the State to be awarded a doctorate in economics after Dr TK Whitaker, for his extensive research in the field of tax law and economics.

Each year he co-authored the Tax Commentary, a comprehensive analysis of the annual Finance Act, which ran into 1,000 pages and was regarded as the bible for accountants and tax professionals.

His insights into the ­minutiae of each year's ­Finance Act were legendary and his post-budget breakfast briefings and lectures were regarded as not-to-be-missed events in the professional calendar.

He also co-authored an annual analysis of changes in corporation tax on behalf of the Institute of Taxation and for several years sat as a member of its ruling council.

One of Dr Brennan's ­passions were the works of his good friend, the late John McGahern, who also grew up and lived beside Ballinamore.

Each year Frank organised seminars and tours of ­McGahern country in south Leitrim.

Frank Brennan, who was 67, is survived by his daughters, Orlaith and Dearbhla, grandson Jack, sons-in-law, brothers and sisters. He will be laid to rest following Requiem Mass this afternoon in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim.

Sunday Independent

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