Thursday 23 November 2017

Courier facing up to five years in jail after failing to pay nearly €300k in taxes

Conor Gallagher

A courier is facing up to five years in prison after failing to pay to nearly €300,000 in taxes.

Mark Tierney (43) was proscuted for failing to pay income tax for five years. He was also charging VAT to his clients but failing to pass it on to the Revenue.

Tierney of Cardonagh Drive, Donaghmede, Dublin 13 will be sentenced in October after pleading guilty to ten counts of not paying VAT between 2006 and 2010 and two counts of filing incorrect tax returns. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine or €126,000.

Tierney has repaid none of the money so far. He is now on social welfare and The Revenue has obtained a judgment against his home.

Defence counsel David Staunton BL told Judge Mary Ellen Ring that there was no “hard and fast rule” that she had to impose an immediate jail sentence. However Judge Ring noted another similar case where the accused had repaid the money and was still jailed for two years.

The judge also noted the case of Paul Begley, the fruit and vegetable importer who was jailed for six years for failing to pay €1.6 million in duty on imported garlic.

This was later reduced to two years by the Court of Criminal Appeal. Mr Begley was actively repaying the outstanding money when he was jailed.

Mr Staunton said Tierney’s case merited a non-custodial sentence because of the “substantial mitigating factors involved.” He said that his client has health difficulties resulting from a hip replacement and is already being financially penalised through the judgement against his house.

He added that the father of one is heavily involved in the local community and manages football teams in his area.

Judge Ring asked prosecuting counsel John Byrne BL if the Court of Criminal Appeal has issued any sentencing guidelines for such offences. Counsel responded that there were no specific guidelines and that revenue offences don’t fall into any special sentencing category which separates them from other crimes.

The judge remanded Tierney on continuing bail until October and ordered a probation report into his situation.

Revenue Officer John O’Reilly told the court that Tierney entered into a contract with transportation company, TNT, in 2004 to provide courier services for them.

He would issue the company invoices which included 21 per cent VAT but would not pass this on to the authorities. He also filed incorrect income tax returns during this period, misrepresenting how much he owed.

In 2010 auditors began to enquire into the tax affairs of TNT and came across Tierney. He was interviewed by Revenue officers and told them that he was living in England at the time.

He later admitted this was a lie and said that he was working unofficially for TNT.

He currently owes the Revenue €147,797 in income tax and €135,844 in VAT, inclusive of penalties and interest.

Irish Independent

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