Written answers

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Department of Finance

Revenue Commissioners Investigations

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Labour)
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To ask the Minister for Finance if he will allocate additional resources to the Revenue Commissioners in 2013 to tackle the black economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57437/12]

Photo of Michael NoonanMichael Noonan (Limerick City, Fine Gael)
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Shadow/hidden economy activity creates distortions in the economy and competitive disadvantages for compliant businesses. For these reasons, Revenue focuses on deterring shadow/hidden economy activity and non-compliance through its audit and investigation programmes based on risk analysis, use of Revenue powers and their intelligence and information systems. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that its compliance programmes are under constant review to ensure that they are focussed on the areas of greatest risk, including risks from the shadow economy, and that this approach contributes to optimising the effectiveness of their audit resources. The results of its audit and compliance programmes are published each year in the Revenue Annual Report and in 2011, Revenue carried out over 11,000 audits that resulted in additional yield of €440.5m to the Exchequer, with a further €81.3m collected from other compliance interventions and assurance checks,

The type of initiatives aimed specifically at shadow economy activity include:

- Joint Investigation activities with the Department of Social Protection aimed at uncovering either non-declarationor under declaration of income and/or fraudulent DSP claims;

- Strengthening tax legislation to provide for a robust framework within which the Revenue Commissioners may tackle tax and duty evasion, including recent provisions relating to the making of returns of transactions by merchant acquirers and the more effective investigation of white-collar crime;

- A comprehensive package of measures in relation to Excise (Oils) including, a requirement for separate licences for auto-fuel traders and marked fuel traders, a requirement to have a separate licence for every premises or place at which the fuel concerned is dealt in, and a requirement that a licence must be clearly displayed at the premises or place;

- Revenue’s tobacco strategy, “Strategy On Combating the Illicit Tobacco Trade (2011- 2013)” was published on the Revenue website in June 2011. This three-year strategy is underpinned by annual action plans;

- Regulations introduced in 2011 requiring Government Departments and State Bodies to supply details of payments made to the Revenue Commissioners;

- Revenue has a prioritised focus on those sectors that traditionally have been susceptible to shadow activity such as cash businesses. All possible sources of information, including following up on services advertised on TV, Radio, Local newspapers, Internet, special interest publications are used by Revenue;

- Holding meetings with trade and representative bodies through The Hidden Economy Monitoring Group where mutual interest issues are discussed;

- Focusing Revenue investigations on the use of computer programmes or electronic devices to alter or conceal sales records;

- Streetscape programmes, in which every cash business in an area is visited, without prior announcement, have been carried out to detect unregistered businesses and non-recording of cash sales.

The Deputy will appreciate that the scale and range of activities carried out by the Revenue Commissioners to tackle the shadow economy are extensive. In addition, the nature of these activities is highly resource intensive however, as is the case with all public service organisations, the Revenue Commissioners must play its part in meeting Government policy on reducing public service staffing numbers. I am satisfied that Revenue is optimising the outputs from its existing audit and compliance resource, and is affording as much priority as possible to shadow economy activities. I can further confirm that the question of resources for Revenue is kept under review by my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in the context of competing demands for resources across the public service.


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