Wednesday 24 January 2018

Tax inspectors target sex shops

Adult entertainment investigated in black economy crackdown

Michael Brennan

REVENUE investigators are targeting sex shops and lap-dancing clubs as part of a crackdown on the black economy.

Officials recently carried out an operation to look into the "cash flow" of a sex shop in an unnamed location, saying they had cooperated with social welfare investigators "to good effect".

The Revenue declined to release any more information on this case, but confirmed it was carrying out operations to check tax compliance in the adult-entertainment industry.

"Revenue has carried out interventions throughout the country in the adult-entertainment sector including sex shops, lap-dancing clubs, casinos and head shops," a spokesman said.

According to the Revenue, it has focused on the adult-entertainment industry in recent years because it is one of a number of sectors which deals with cash and is seen as a high risk. There are no specific figures on how much it has recovered in taxes and penalties from the sector -- because it is included in the broader 'retail' category and is not measured separately for statistical purposes.

Other recent Revenue activity includes:

•Joint operations with the gardai, customs and social welfare officers to detect "illegal activity" at the Smithfield Horse Fair in Dublin over the May and June Bank holiday weekend. VRT and excise offences were detected.

•Checks on tax compliance of T-shirt sellers, takeaways and temporary car park operators at gigs in the O2 and Malahide Castle, as well as the Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park

Investigations

The Revenue confirmed that as part of its crackdown on the black economy, it has recovered more than €10m from restaurants and takeaways. In all, there were investigations into 248 restaurants and takeaways last year.

According to the Revenue, the risk of black economy activity will grow during the recession "unless there is a very strong and visible response" by its officials. A Revenue spokesman said it also wanted to ensure all businesses and individuals were operating on a level playing pitch.

And the Revenue now has new powers to deal with "double jobbing" in the taxi industry -- where workers hold down a second job as a taxi driver and fail to declare their income.

Last year's Finance Act meant that it can access information on holders of taxi permits from the Commission for Taxi Regulation.

It has also stopped taxi drivers during 44 checkpoint operations in the South West Region and the Border Midlands West Region so far this year.

The Revenue spokesman said around one-in-five of drivers stopped required some "follow-up action".

Irish Independent

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