Sunday 19 November 2017

Speech on tax cheats back to haunt Mick Wallace

Fionnan Sheahan and Michael Brennan

TALK about a speech coming back to haunt you.

Tax cheat Mick Wallace's indignant lament about tax fraud from 12 months ago will certainly fall into that category.

The Government is expected to discuss today whether to hold a vote to condemn the Independent TD.

If a debate on Mr Wallace's actions in making a false declaration to the Revenue Commissioners is held, he's certainly left plenty of ammunition for his detractors.

The latest gem comes from a debate on the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2011, last June.

Of social welfare and tax fraud, Mr Wallace declared "neither form of fraud should be tolerated".

"I know from experience that if workers collect dole while working and cheat the system, it is demoralising for guys who are in work.

"Likewise it is demoralising for the State to see the richest people in our society not carrying their fair share and cheating the system in a very sophisticated way," he said.

Power

However, it is still not clear if the anticipated motion of censure will actually be debated this week.

The controversy over Health Minister Dr James Reilly's listing as a debt defaulter has cast a doubt over whether the coalition will want to criticise a TD over a personal financial issue at the moment.

Mr Wallace is set to face the official motion after he failed to co-operate fully with a Dail watchdog looking into his €2.1m tax settlement.

The Dail committee of members' interests decided last week it didn't have the power to investigate Mr Wallace's tax affairs after he failed to provide it with the information it needed.

The committee was trying to establish if the settlement crossed over into his time as a TD since he was elected in last year's general election.

The committee said it was unable to establish whether parts of the tax settlement flows into his time as a TD.

But it said it was satisfied the original under-declaration of VAT happened before his time as a TD.

Mr Wallace only answered two out of seven questions put to him, as he said legal advice from his solicitor prevented him from answering the rest.

The Government has previously mooted tabling a motion of censure in Mr Wallace.

A source said the response to the Dail committee's findings will be teased out by Government today.

Irish Independent

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