Hundreds of businesses seeking more time to pay tax bills

Hundreds of businesses are pleading with tax collectors every month for more time to pay their bills, it emerged today.

Revenue also revealed the total tax take last year was a massive €8bn less than the Government expected.

In a stark reminder of the deepening crisis, Revenue chairman Josephine Feehily said it was increasingly making arrangements to help struggling taxpayers.

“Very substantial numbers of businesses are coming to us looking for time to pay,” she said, launching Revenue’s annual report.

“For example, the collector general would say that there are about 400 cases a month that come looking for time to pay.

“Now, actually, we encourage this, because it’s much more important that they comply rather than they comply on time.”

The annual report revealed last year’s tax take was €41.1bn, down almost €6.5bn on the previous year and some €8bn less than the Budget estimate.

Other significant findings included:

:: There were 15 court cases related to serious tax evasion last year, a 50% increase on the previous year.

:: Debt was up to €1,233m from €895m.

:: Major ’legacy’ investigations recovered €75.6m, bringing the total so far to €2.48bn.

:: A voluntary disclosure scheme for untaxed deposits more than €100,000 has brought in €73.8m.

Ms Feehily said revenue from all taxes and duties was down, but the slump was impacting most dramatically on asset-related taxes, with capital gains tax and stamp duty down by 50%.

The chairman said there would be a sympathetic hearing for those finding it difficult to pay their tax bill, but warned they must get in contact with Revenue.

“We don’t want to make things worse for them but it won’t be good for them if we find them before they come into us,” she said.

“We are open for business for instalment arrangements and about 45% more tax is under instalment arrangements at the end of 2008 than there was in 2007.”

Ms Feehily said Revenue was presently dealing with around 15,000 cases who are struggling with taxes.

Inspectors will focus particularly this year on so-called cash businesses, such as pubs and the security industry.

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