Revenue recovers €2.6bn from tax cheats
REVENUE Commissioners have recovered €2.6bn from tax cheats since 2001, following special investigations into offshore assets and bogus non-resident accounts.
Almost €1bn has been generated from offshore assets held by Irish residents abroad since investigations started nine years ago, preliminary new figures from the tax authority reveal.
Special investigations last year generated €114.4m in 2009, compared with €54m in 2008.
However, the figures are tapering off as the biggest investigations took place in the first part of the decade when the Revenue first began its probes following the Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) enquiry.
Under the 1999 Finance Act, Revenue was given new powers to follow tax evaders.
It was given the authority to access bank accounts of a group or class of individuals, subject to High Court approval, as well as to enter a financial institution to check on the veracity of returns.
A breakdown of the 2009 figures shows most of monies recovered from tax evaders last year came from off-shore assets generating €18.3m. Investigations into bogus non-resident accounts secured €7.7m.
At the end of 2009, there were a total of 114 ongoing investigations into serious tax evasion including 12 before the courts with four being considered by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
There were six convictions for serious tax evasion in 2009.
Other prosecutions included 1,622 for non-filing of tax returns and 181 anti-fraud cases.
With our current budget deficit of €24.6bn, the Revenue is taking an aggressive stance on tax evasion. At the end of last year, it sent out letters to more than 7,000 people who sold properties last year, outlining the law in relation to capital gains tax (CGT).
There is no CGT liability on the sale of a principal residence, but the tax must be paid on disposal of a a second home or an investment property.
After an assessment of its records, the Revenue concluded that a number of people had sold properties last year but had not declared the money for tax. These individual are being targeted by the Revenue's CGT team, which was established in 2007 to monitor tax compliance on the disposal of assets.
The tax authority now plans to use the same strategy in the enforcement of a range of other taxes.