Wednesday 23 January 2019

Lowry tax form 'didn't add up to hill of beans', jury told

Michael Lowry. Photo: Collins Courts
Michael Lowry. Photo: Collins Courts

Sonya McLean

A corporation tax form submitted on behalf of Michael Lowry's business "didn't amount to a hill of beans" because it was unsigned, a jury has heard.

The trial has been hearing from Revenue officers in relation to the accused's tax returns for himself and his company.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard an income tax return for the year ending 2002 was submitted on behalf of Mr Lowry, Independent TD for Tipperary, in October 2003 using Revenue Online Service (ROS).

It indicated the accused had a total income of €151,050, including a public office salary of €69,515, but as he had already paid PAYE for that year, he had no tax liability and had in fact overpaid his tax by €136.

A corporation tax (CT1) form submitted on behalf of his company Garuda Ltd concluded it operated at a loss of almost €100,000 for the year ending December 31, 2002 and as such had no tax liability. This form also stated the company was due a refund of €3,500.

A CT1 form submitted in August 2007 for the year ending 2006 stated Garuda Ltd had an income of just over €915,000 and a tax liability of €114,000.

Thomas Keating, a retired inspector of taxes who was stationed in Thurles from January 2006 to October 2014, agreed with Patrick Treacy SC, defending Garuda Ltd, that the declaration on the CT1 form received on behalf of Garuda for the year ending 2002 was neither signed nor dated.

"It doesn't amount to a hill of beans if the form is not signed," Mr Treacy said.

He continued after he quipped there was "a lot of beans mentioned" by prosecuting counsel Remy Farrell in his opening address to the jury.

Again referring to Mr Farrell's opening statement, Mr Treacy asked the witness if he had heard the quotes from Monday's hearing "putting the toothpaste back into the tube" or "cooking the books not once but twice".

"But when the form is not even signed the lid isn't even taken off the tube - the books weren't even cooked," Mr Treacy submitted.

Mr Keating accepted again the form was processed without the signature but added Garuda Ltd received a rebate because of the CT1 form being accepted.

He agreed with Michael O'Higgins SC, defending Mr Lowry, that his client's tax agent BBT Accountants received a letter from Revenue in August 26, 2013, concerning the sum "that is the core issue of this case".

He accepted the letter stated that Revenue considered that the sum of £248,624 sterling, received in 2002, constituted income for tax purposes. It outlined he owed income tax on that, along with levies, penalties and fines, totalling €516,000.

Mr Keating further accepted that a similar letter was issued to Garuda Ltd, as Revenue determined the company owed PAYE and PRSI on the sum.

This letter stated the company owed just over €510,000, which again included the original tax, penalties and fines.

The witness agreed Mr Lowry and Garuda had a right to reply and successfully challenged Revenue's findings with the Appeals Commission. The Appeals Commission assessed both Mr Lowry's and Garuda's tax liability at zero.

Mr Lowry (64), of Glenreigh, Holycross, Co Tipperary, has pleaded not guilty to four charges of filing incorrect tax returns on dates between August 2002 and August 2007 in relation to a sum of £248,624 received by his company, Garuda Ltd and one charge in relation to failing to keep a proper set of accounts on dates between 28 August, 2002 and August 3, 2007.

He further pleaded not guilty on behalf of Garuda Ltd to three similar charges in relation to the company's tax affairs and one charge of failing to keep a proper set of accounts on the same dates.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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