Tuesday 21 May 2019

Revenue hiring spree beefs up wealth division

Staff numbers will rise by up to 1,000 this year as super-rich targeted, writes Fearghal O'Connor

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Frank McGrath
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Frank McGrath

Fearghal O'Connor

The Revenue Commissioners are in the midst of a hiring spree as it prepares to widen the tax net for super-rich individuals and deals with Brexit.

The tax authority will hire 350 more staff across a range of grades by year end, excluding the hundreds of new staff it has already hired to deal with Brexit, new figures reveal.

The hiring spree has allowed the agency to beef up a special division that deals with high-wealth individuals and that now employs 125 staff in Athlone, Kilkenny, Waterford and Dublin.

It also confirmed to the Sunday Independent that it had separately appointed over 500 staff since the start of this year to handle Brexit.

"The majority of these have been assigned to customs roles or to backfill positions from which existing Revenue staff were assigned to customs duties," it said.

"In the event of a no-deal Brexit, a further 200 staff will be recruited in the period up to December 2019," it said.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said in response to a parliamentary question last week that a structural realignment by Revenue last year "had a particular focus on optimising the alignment of resources and risk" and this had increased the number of specialist and experienced staff assigned to the high-wealth focused division.

The division is set to get even busier following a review that the Minister confirmed was "just completed" and which is expected to lower the threshold for high-wealth individuals from €50m to possibly €30m or lower.

A Revenue spokeswoman confirmed that the recommendations of the review will shortly be considered by the Revenue Board.

Donohoe added: "The work of the division includes profiling high-wealth individuals and their related entities and carrying out a programme of risk-based compliance interventions, including audits, as deemed necessary."

"I am further advised by Revenue that the increased staff in the division will initially manage the expanded case base that will arise from a lowering of the threshold used to determine allocation to LC-HWID [Large Cases - High-Wealth Individuals Division] and the matter of assigning further staff to the Division is and will remain under regular review."

The recruitment drive at the State's tax authority comes amidst something of a brain drain from its ranks, with Donohoe also revealing that the number of Revenue staff forecast to retire between now and the end of 2019 is 180.

"I am satisfied that there will be sufficient staff recruited to replace all staff retiring and other losses, such as mobility to other Government departments," said Donohoe.

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