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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Tax cheat Wallace to give up half of his Dail salary and Press Association reporters

TAX cheat TD Mick Wallace has refused to step down over his controversial tax affairs but will give half of his Dail salary to settle his VAT bill with the Revenue Commissioners.

Speaking in the Dail he said he will continue his work on behalf of his constituents in Wexford despite widespread pressure from many political fronts for him to quit.

The Wexford Independent, who knowingly misled the taxman over money owed by his former construction firm, apologised over the matter during a 15 minute address to the Dail.

He said he would make immediate arrangements to start paying back the €2.1m owed as a mark of "solidarity to the citizens of Ireland".

He receives more than €130,000 a year in his TD pay and perks.

Mr Wallace said he had considered resigning and giving up politics altogether after the controversy which emerged on news of his controversial settlement with the Revenue in relation to MJ Wallace Ltd.

“But I have never been good at quitting,” he added.

“I am taking steps to immediately arrange that half my Dail salary will go towards paying MJ Wallace Ltd VAT liabilities with the Revenue," said the emotional TD as he addressed the Dail.

Mr Wallace said since he now works for the people, he feels obliged to look beyond the bounds of company law and start making the repayments.

He maintained he made an error of judgment when he lied about his VAT bill as the property bubble burst, but stressed his personal finances were always under control.

"The manner in which the VAT was dealt with was, in hindsight, an error of judgment made under pressure at a time when the approach of the banks were changing dramatically and the value of property was dropping sharply," he said.

"There was never an intention that the money that was owed would not be paid to Revenue and the motive behind the underpayment was to delay payment in order to see out this difficulty."

Mr Wallace had initially distanced himself from the tax bill, stating it was the company's liability and that as it is now insolvent, it could not be paid back to the authorities.

"This was not a cavalier comment, but a statement of fact," he went on.

However, the 56-year-old said he was aware that his remarks had upset Irish citizens who were struggling due to the dire economic climate.

The usually flamboyant Independent was on the verge of tears as he addressed his colleagues - notably without his trademark pink T-shirt and instead dressed in a more sombre dark blue.

He apologised to his constituents in Wexford as he explained the details of his dealings with Revenue.

"In 2010, I made a self-declaration to the Revenue," he went on.

"Revenue proceeded to carry out a full audit."

Mr Wallace said an agreement to pay back the VAT owed was reached, but following a court case at the end of last year in which he was ordered to repay €19m to ACC Bank, it became clear the company could not make its repayments.

However, he could still face a motion of censure in the Dail over the issue.

Party whips held a meeting last night to decide how to proceed with the matter.

Dail ethics watchdog - the Members' Interests Committee - wrote to Mr Wallace yesterday asking him to authorise Revenue to disclose their dealings.

Chairman Thomas Pringle said the group needs a timeframe as to when Mr Wallace informed the tax chiefs of his VAT dodging and exactly when the settlement was reached.

If it finds the platinum-haired politician had these dealings with Revenue after he became a TD, it will have grounds to investigate.

The group could, if it investigates Mr Wallace and finds against him, suspend the deputy from the Dail for up to 30 days without pay.

Irish Independent

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