The haul follows an audit programme, known as ‘the national contractors project’, which targeted people who provided professional, technical, scientific and IT services; mostly to large manufacturing businesses through a company structure.
In the past year alone, Revenue collected €7.6m after having collected €9.3m in the first year of the initiative. It started the countrywide probe after an earlier pilot project, in the south-west region, yielded €4.5m.
A spokeswoman for Revenue yesterday confirmed that of the €17m collected in the past two years, €10.87m was made up of unpaid taxes along with penalties of €3.05m and interest of €3.1m. She said there are 184 cases still under investigation.
As part of the probe, Revenue discovered that significant amounts were extracted from some personal service companies without payment of tax. The amounts were generally labelled as motor, travel and subsistence or other expenses. In some instances, the expenses had not been incurred at all; in others, they had been incurred, but were not expenses which could be legally paid tax free.
According to Finance Minister Michael Noonan, between July 2013 and last month, 686 audits of contracting companies and a further 494 audits of the directors of those companies were concluded.