AT least 10 Revenue officials have seen their salaries slashed by thousands of euro after being found guilty of misconduct, the Herald can reveal.
In a circular to staff members, Revenue bosses have warned of "serious sanctions" against those who break the rules.
Information obtained by the Herald reveals that at least 23 employees have faced "serious disciplinary action" recently, including being sacked and being referred for garda investigation.
And 10 officials who were found guilty of misbehaviour had their salaries slashed by up to €11,000 each.
In the latest example, a male employee was discovered to have "inappropriately accessed" the tax records of dozens of friends and family members -- many of whom were keen to find out if they were entitled to a tax refund.
Official revenue documents reveal that those who had their records checked included the man's father, aunt, friends, drinking partners and members of his football team.
During an interview with a principal officer, the official admitted his actions were "naive" and "stupid" -- but did not appear keen on being quizzed over every individual document he accessed.
"They are all going to be the same, viewing that I shouldn't be doing, it was naivety and stupidity on my part. I'm sure if we go through all these cases we are going around roundabouts," he said.
And in further comments, the man accuses his interviewer of "entrapment".
"Is there something behind this, is there a compliant [sic] behind this? If there is something out there that has been made by an outside person, then this is entrapment."
The man was found guilty of misconduct -- having admitted to accessing dozens of records in order to:
•Satisfy his curiosity
•Check if friends and family members were entitled to tax refunds
•Provide "advice" in relation to tax affairs
•Check whether those who contacted him were entitled to tax credits.
The man had his salary reduced and was debarred from promotion.
The circular to Revenue staff members, released following a Freedom of Information request, describes the confidentiality of taxpayers as being of "fundamental importance to our business and reputation".
"The message is clear: accessing and/or disclosing confidential Revenue information constitutes serious misconduct and staff found engaging in such action face sanctions up to and including dismissal," Revenue officials were warned.