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Dubliners least likely to be named and shamed on tax

Over the last nine years, the Revenue Commissioners have published the names of 4,961 people who have made settlements with them. Irish Examiner Business Editor Conor Keane examines the geographic and occupational breakdown

DUBLIN based taxpayers are the least likely to be named and shamed as tax defaulters by the Revenue Commissioners, an analysis of almost 5,000 settlements made with the taxman over the past nine years reveals.

Taxpayers in Kerry and Monaghan are the most likely to have their names published in the Iris Oifigiúil, the Irish State Gazette, by the Revenue Commissioners each quarter when they publish the names of tax defaulters where the settlement was in excess of €30,000, or €12,700 if pre 2005, and if the amount of fine or penalty included in the settlement exceeded 15% of the tax and where the taxpayer did not avail of the opportunity to make a voluntary disclosure.

Over a nine-year period, from the fourth quarter of 2001 to the third quarter of this year, an analysis of the 4,961 cases published by the Revenue Commissioners shows that there were 403 people from Kerry named and shamed, which represents 29 people per 10,000 of the population. A total of 769 people with Dublin addresses were listed as tax defaulters, which represents just 6.5 people per 10,000 of the population.

This means a taxpayer in Kerry is 4.5 times more likely to be named and shamed than a Dublin-based taxpayer, and those in Cork and Galway twice as likely to be caught as a counterpart in Dublin.

It is clear that Dublin, followed by Kildare and Clare are the best places to live if you do not want to be named and shamed as a tax defaulter by the Revenue Commissioners while Kerry and Monaghan are the worst.

Revenue sources also suggest that Bogus Non Resident accounts were disproportionately prevalent in some counties and could have a distorting effect on these statistics.

The Revenue says its audits do not have a regional bias and says the published cases represent only a fraction of all settlements made with the Revenue and points out that:

"The published settlements are not a representative sample of the whole. This has the capacity to distort the results."

In October 2003 the Revenue carried out a major organisational restructuring.

"Essentially, we rebuilt our organisation around different groups of taxpayers with a focus on risk. These groups consist of taxpayers in each of four geographic regions and a national large taxpayer group called Large Cases Division. Revenue also set up Special Compliance Districts that enable Revenue to identify and profile cases and sectors that present risks," a Revenue spokesman explained.

However, after the implementation of the new strategy which was expected to provide a more balanced regional targeting of tax defaulters, taxpayers outside of Dublin still remain the most likely to be named and shamed by the Revenue.

To support this new risk-based approach, Revenue developed an electronic risk analysis system Risk Evaluation and Analysis Programme (REAP), which was in use nationally from January 2008.

"Using REAP to identify and quantify risk has many advantages. It’s comprehensive – all data over an extended period is analysed. It’s fair – the same rules apply to every taxpayer and the scores are applied consistently. It’s flexible – REAP will constantly evolve based on past experience. Experienced officers make final selection of cases for intervention," Revenue said.

Among the spin-offs expected from this reorganisation is better targeting of tax defaulters in Dublin and Cork as well as bringing state employees living outside Dublin, but paid centrally like gardaí and teachers, under scrutiny of local tax offices.