An Garda Síochána must be immediately sanctioned by the Revenue Commissioners over failure to clarify if it is tax compliant, a year on from the Garda college financial scandal, a TD has said.
Labour’s Alan Kelly demanded the referral is made after the force missed yet another Public Accounts Committee (PAC) deadline to confirm it is now tax compliant.
At the launch of the PAC’s periodic report late last month, committee members said that despite the Garda college financial scandal hitting the headlines a year ago, serious questions remain. In particular, members noted that the force had yet to confirm the organisation and the college itself were fully tax compliant as it has still not explained why there were five tax numbers for the college instead of just one.
Criticising the ongoing delays in answering the question, PAC chair and Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming said An Garda Síochána had had until the end of March to confirm it is now fully compliant.
However, with no response to the request being made available to PAC members at the time of going to press, Mr Kelly said the committee now has no other option but to refer the matter to Revenue for sanction.
“It’s incomprehensible that the gardaí haven’t been able to reconcile their tax numbers,” said Mr Kelly. “It’s a year on from the Garda college finances first becoming known, and the refusal to answer a simple question is just astonishing.
“The gardaí should be referred to Revenue over this; they need to face sanction on this.”
Under PAC questioning last year, Garda college chief administrative officer Joe Nugent said there were five Garda tax numbers at Templemore and they were in “discussions with Revenue about four”.
Asked if the accounts were up to date, he said his “understanding” was that returns had been made and were “the subject of discussions with Revenue”.
Mr Nugent said at the time that the “nub of the problem” was some entities were not Garda ones, but some of the directors of one them, Sportsfield, were senior gardaí.
During the discussions last year, Mr Fleming said the situation was “extraordinary” and there was the “possibility of a substantial liability”. However, despite a previous deadline to the PAC to clarify the matter, the Garda college and Garda authorities failed to do so last year, with Revenue subsequently examining the situation.
While Revenue is continuing to investigate the issue, the latest PAC warning that the force has again failed to meet a deadline to clarify its tax status is likely to lead to further pressure for sanction.
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