Saturday 17 March 2018

Father-of-six could face five years or €126,000 fine for failing to make tax returns on newspaper distribution route

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Aoife Nic Ardghail

A father-of-six could face five years in jail or a fine of over €126,000 for failing to make tax returns going back to 2003 on his newspaper distribution route.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that James Mahon (47) had received payments totalling €3.3m from Dolianus Enterprises Ltd from 2003 to 2009 to distribute free newspapers around Dublin.

Mahon, with an address at St Fintan's Park, Deansgrange, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to failing to deliver tax returns for 2003, 2008 and 2009.

He has no previous convictions.

Sheila Hanley, Assistant Principle Officer with the Revenue Commissioners, said Mahon came under investigation in 2008 when it was found he had not paid tax for years.

She said Mahon currently owed Revenue €869,731, excluding interest and penalties.

Ms Hanley told Anne Rowland BL, prosecuting, that Mahon had not received social welfare payments since 1997 and his last recorded employment had ceased in 1994.

She said a colleague in Revenue went to Mahon's former address in 2008 after receiving no response to a number of letters sent.

Mahon claimed he had been earning €400 a week from newspaper distribution, but a 2011 routine exam at Dolianus showed it had paid him €384,342 in 2006 and €478,713 in 2008, excluding VAT.

Revenue discovered Mahon had not been registered for income tax since 1991 and contacted him in 2011 to say his tax affairs from 2006 to 2009 were under investigation.

He failed to respond to all correspondences from Revenue.

Bank records showed that a total of €1.9m went through the Bank of Ireland and EBS accounts held by Mahon.

Ms Hanley said Revenue doesn't know where the balance of the €3.3m went. She said Mahon met with colleagues in October 2015 and told them he was on a disability pension of €186 a week.

He promised to engage with an accountant, but this had not happened.

Ms Hanley accepted when Garnet Orange SC, defending, suggested to her that Mahon had employed people to distribute the free newspapers, such as The Herald AM, around the city.

She agreed there was a pattern of “headline” amounts going into his client's bank accounts and then being withdrawn.

Ms Hanley further accepted that Mahon “stuck his head in the sand and ignored everything” and that his affairs in running business were “totally calamitous”.

Mahon's partner explained to Mr Orange that the couple had six children, including two with disabilities.

His partner told the court that she didn't know how the family would cope without Mahon as he would bring the children to their hospital appointments.

Mr Orange submitted to Judge Melanie Greally that Mahon had been trusted by Dolianus to handle the distribution “without ripping people off”.

Counsel said that though his client liked to work, he was not a business minded person and was living in very difficult circumstances.

Judge Greally remanded Mahon on continuing bail until February 15, when his sentence will be finalised.

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