Sunday 25 February 2018

Wallace €2.1m tax bill: the questions he won't answer

Mick Wallace

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

TAX cheat Mick Wallace has left a series of holes in his story about how he reached a deal with the Revenue Commissioners over unpaid VAT.

Experts said several aspects of his listing on the tax defaulters' list "just do not add up", including the timing of the settlement and the category of offence.

The TD has until next week to decide if he will waive his right to confidentiality over his company's tax affairs, after it emerged he came to a €2.1m settlement with Revenue.

However, despite giving a 15-minute speech to the Dail this week, serious questions remain about how Mr Wallace conducted the finances at his firm MJ Wallace, which is now in receivership.

It is still unclear whether Mr Wallace volunteered information to the Revenue, as he has previously claimed, or whether the tax dodging emerged when the Revenue prepared an audit.

But tax experts said Mr Wallace's claim he went voluntarily to Revenue did not tally with him being named on the defaulters' list.

Former Revenue employee Fiona O’Shea said there were three questions arising from the listing which made it unusual:

- Why was the settlement published if he went to Revenue voluntarily?

- Why was it only published now when the settlement was reached two years ago?

- Why did Revenue categorise the false declaration as carelessness when it was deliberate?

“It just doesn’t add up,” she said. Ms O’Shea said the latest defaulters’ list dates sets out settlements made in the first three months of the year, yet Mr Wallace said he reached the deal two years ago.

If he had gone to Revenue and made the disclosure voluntarily, then he shouldn’t have been named, she said.

And categorising the original default as carelessness is “not consistent” with Revenue being told it was deliberate, she said. Mr Wallace told the Dail he voluntarily went to Revenue and informed it of the unpaid VAT liability.

“The following year, 2010, the situation had continued to deteriorate and the company made a full declaration to Revenue and opened its books.

“Revenue then proceeded to carry out a full audit of the company’s books and, after some weeks, an agreement was reached between both parties whereby a sum of money would be paid each month by the company to Revenue to deal with the outstanding amount, and all other ongoing tax liabilities would be honoured,” she said.

Mr Wallace has failed to answer a series of questions put to him by the Irish Independent to clear up outstanding issues after his Dail statement.

- Whether the disclosure about underpaying VAT was instigated by himself, or by the Revenue.

- Whether he told the Revenue that the money would likely never be repaid before they reached a settlement.

- Why he awarded six-figure pay rises to himself and his son when his company was being hit by the property crash.

- Whether he continued to pay himself a six-figure fee during the time when the company was dodging VAT payments.

- Whether he can dispose of any property or other assets in order to help repay the sizeable Revenue bill.

Mr Wallace is entitled, by law, to keep his dealings with Revenue confidential. The Dail committee on members’ interests has asked the TD to waive this right. The committee wants to see if Mr Wallace’s tax settlement in any way crossed over with his time as a TD, before deciding if it can investigate.

Irish Independent

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