Revenue puts brakes on double-jobbing taxi drivers
WORKERS who hold down a second job as a taxi driver and who fail to declare their income face a crackdown by the Revenue Commissioners.
New powers granted in the Finance Bill yesterday allow the taxman to gather information on people holding taxi permits, and to check their annual returns to see if they are declaring their income.
Until now, Revenue could not access information on holders of taxi permits from the Commission for Taxi Regulation.
But the new powers are contained in the bill, which must be approved by the Houses of the Oireachtas.
Taxi drivers have bitterly complained for years about double-jobbing in the industry where drivers work full-time in one job and ply for hire at night.
With more than 28,000 taxis licensed across the country, the situation has become worse since the economic downturn as people stay home and avoid spending money.
Taxi unions have said that most drivers are compliant, but estimate a section of the industry has a full-time job and operates a taxi in the "black market".
One source said yesterday that taxis were being used to supplement a regular pay packet, and the extra income used for luxuries such as new cars or taking holidays.
Last night, the Department of Finance said the powers in the Finance Bill were part of a tax-compliance programme.
"Revenue is seeking information from the Taxi Regulator concerning persons who operate and are licensed in the taxi/hackney sector," a spokesman said.
"The Taxi Regulator and organisations representing taxi drivers have requested that information on these persons holding permits be transferred to Revenue, but a legal basis for doing so was required."
One source said the move came about because of submissions from taxi unions and the regulator, Kathleen Doyle.
"Obviously they feel that there are individuals operating as taxi drivers who shouldn't be and this would be one way of identifying them," the Finance spokesman said.
Last October Ms Doyle announced reforms to the industry where it would work with the Department of Social and Family Affairs to ensure that people claiming unemployment benefit were not driving a taxi.