Garda Finance boss explains 'muddy up' letter to Revenue
Garda Finance boss Michael Culhane has moved to explain why he used the phrase "to muddy things up" in relation to a letter he sent to Revenue that included a query about charitable tax status for Templemore Training College.
Earlier this month the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard that Mr Culhane emailed the Department of Justice in 2010 writing: "To muddy things up, I included charitable status for the college in the letter to the Revenue dated May 28."
Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry, who revealed the email said he found it "particularly troubling".
In recent weeks senior Garda officials have been unable to confirm that all four tax numbers associated with Templemore are tax-compliant, with the PAC being told the force is currently "in discussions" with Revenue.
During her PAC appearance last week, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan said the language in the "muddy things up" email was "unusual" but that she wasn't aware of its context.
Ms O'Sullivan said Garda chief administrative officer Joe Nugent would provide a note on the matter to the PAC.
Last Friday, Mr Culhane wrote to Mr Nugent giving an explanation for why he used the phrase. That letter has been sent to the PAC.
He wrote that in May 2010 the principal issue for discussion with Revenue was the tax status of a number of allowances paid to Garda members following a voluntary disclosure on the matter made by the force.
Mr Culhane said a separate issue he raised in the letter was getting "confirmation of the charitable tax status of the Garda College".
Mr Culhane wrote: "The term 'to muddy things up' was used in the context that the action of including the issue of charitable tax status in the voluntary disclosure may have unnecessarily complicated same, as the Revenue Commissioners were focusing on the allowances."
"It may have been better to keep the two issues separate," he added.
He said the response from the Revenue Commissioners only dealt with the allowances issue.
Mr Culhane wrote: "Given the significance of the taxable status of the allowances this matter was dealt with by the senior professional staff in the Revenue Commissioners who would not have [been] deflected from that purpose by any other matter."
Mr Culhane included a copy of his May 28, 2010, letter to Revenue in his correspondence last Friday.
In it he writes that a matter that needs to be addressed is the "availability or otherwise of charitable tax exempt status for the Garda College".
He said the college is an educational facility "no different to other third level institutions".