€40m remains unpaid by tax defaulters in last two years

Over €39.82 million remains unpaid to the Revenue Commissioners in taxes, penalties and interest from published tax defaulters in last two years.

That is according to figures provided by the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe which show that €15.5 million remains unpaid by published tax defaulters in tax, penalties and interest frrom 2018.

In a written Dáil reply to Joan Burton TD (Lab), Minister Donohoe confirmed that a further €24.2 million remains unpaid in taxes, penalties and interest from the 2017 lists of published tax defaulters.

The figures show that the percentage value of unpaid tax, penalties and interest from the final quarter of last year from defaulters totalled 42.1% and this compared to 26.3% for the third quarter, 29.4% for the second quarter and 44.7% for the first quarter of 2018.

The figures show that of the 265 tax settlement agreed last year with defaulters, the numbers that remain unpaid amount to 79 or 30% of settlements.

This compares to 289 settlements agreed for 2017 where 101 settlements remain unpaid or 35% of the overall total.

Labour Finance spokeswoman, Deputy Burton said: “I’m very shocked at the level of non-payment of tax settlements.”

She said: “It is very unfair on the hard-pressed tax-payer that some of these tax defaulters can seemingly walk way from their obligations. A lot of tax-payers will feel angry over these figures.”

Deputy Burton said that she would be asking the Revenue Commissioners to attend at the Oireachtas Finance Committee to explain the reasons behind the level of non-payment.

A spokeswoman for Revenue said today while Revenue vigorously pursues collection/enforcement of unpaid settlements “in some cases, the collection/recovery of the full amount unpaid will not be possible”.

She explained: “In some instances for example, a company may have gone into liquidation, while a number of the unpaid settlements in the Tax Defaulters List are as a result of the taxpayer claiming ‘inability to pay’.

“It is the responsibility of the taxpayer claiming ‘inability to pay’ a tax or duty default settlement to satisfactorily demonstrate that inability. Documentary evidence of ‘inability to pay’ must be submitted to Revenue, with each case then considered, on its own merit, as to whether an ability to pay exists or not.”

She said: “If it is accepted that the taxpayer has no ability to pay, we do not pursue collection of the unpaid amounts.

She stated that the Revenue’s new Debt Management Services (DMS) application which launched in March 2019 “provides advanced profiling of cases and delivers significant increased capacity for compliance and enforcement activities”.

She stated there are currently approximately 500 Revenue staff actively engaged in all aspects of debt management.

She said that Revenue will continue to focus on minimising the level of debt to the Exchequer.

She said: “In 2018, we collected €211.6 million as part of our debt collections and enforcement actions. We can, and do, work very successfully with businesses and individuals who engage early with us to resolve their payment difficulties.”

In 2018, Revenue facilitated 9,088 businesses and individuals with phased payment arrangements covering €93 million of debt.

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