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'Non-resident' loses on the double in tax row

A BUSINESSMAN claims he is being punished on the double by two government agencies who disagree over his status as an Irish resident.

Mark McMenamin (31), from Killygordon in Co Donegal, works in the UK so regularly that the Department of Social Welfare has cut off family allowance payments.

But Customs officers disagree. They have seized his €33,000 British-bought car, insisting he resides in the Republic and had been driving the vehicle illegally.

Mr McMenamin, a father of three whose wife is a civil servant in the North, told the Irish Independent that the Government was "trying to have their cake and eat it".

He says he is planning a legal action for the return of his 2010 Toyota Landcruiser which was seized in Letterkenny last October. He had paid £27,500 for it just three weeks earlier.

"I am in this absolutely ludicrous position where one part of the State says I'm a UK tax resident and I should get family allowance from the UK; and another part of the State says I'm an Irish resident and should have imported the car they have taken off me," Mr McMenamin

The car is registered to his company in Co Tyrone, but was seized from his foreman during a trip to Co Donegal.

Mr McMenamin said: "I explained that the car was registered to a company in Northern Ireland. However, it was later taken away by Customs and they've had it ever since. They've refused to give it back.

"I've taken advice, and I am convinced that what happened should not have. I am out of the State more than 183 days a year and I pay taxes in the North because my steel-erecting business is based in Co Tyrone."

Mr McMenamin says the loss of the car has caused him problems running his business.

Ryan Stewart, who campaigns to have Vehicle Registration Tax abolished, says the case is "mind-boggling" and he has lodged a complaint against the Government with the European Commission.

"A young man and his family are being penalised because they run a business in another European country," said Mr Stewart.

"We also have a clear contradiction between two government departments where one says he is a UK tax resident and should be treated as such, and another government department is taking the completely opposite view."

Both the Revenue and the Department of Social Welfare said they do not comment on individual cases.

Irish Independent