Revenue tax settlements ‘below what could be due’

The Revenue made two confidential settlements in 2012 where the amounts of tax paid was significantly below the €68 million that the Revenue thought could be due, according to the report. Photograph: Reuters

The Revenue made two confidential settlements in 2012 where the amounts of tax paid was significantly below the €68 million that the Revenue thought could be due, according to the report. Photograph: Reuters

Tue, Oct 1, 2013, 09:47

The Revenue made two confidential settlements in 2012 where the amounts of tax paid was significantly below the €68 million that the Revenue thought could be due, according to the report.

In one case two Irish subsidiaries of an unidentified multinational made corporation tax payments in 2005 for 2004, prompting the Revenue to notice that they had not made returns for previous years.

The companies lent money to their parent company and booked interest due, but not paid, as income.


High Court
In 2008 the Revenue raised assessments for €11.8 million for the pre-2004 period.

When the Appeal Commissioner confirmed these assessments, the companies appealed that decision to the High Court.

The Revenue estimate was that, with interest, it would get €14 million if it won the case. However before the case was heard, the issue was settled for €8 million.

The settlement details, which were approved by a Revenue commissioner, were not published.

In a second case an audit in 2011 led to a capital gains assessment for €22 million as a result of a transaction which the taxpayer’s agent said should not trigger a tax bill. The Revenue believed the transaction was motivated by tax avoidance rather than commercial objectives.

With interest and potential penalties, the final bill for the taxpayer could have been as high as €54 million.

During negotiations, where it was agreed the matter could take years if it went to court, the taxpayer’s agent offered to settle for €15 million.

The settlement was approved by a Revenue commissioner in December 2012.

No penalties were applied, and the details were not published.


Penalties
The C&AG report noted that there was nothing on the file to indicate that the Revenue made a claim for interest or penalties, or that it sought a figure of more than €15 million during the settlement negotiations.

In response to queries from the C&AG, the Revenue pointed out that the taxpayer had offshore companies and that there was a danger of a “leakage” of funds through them.

Further revenues
They also said there was a danger it could lose further revenues from the taxpayer depending on how the case was settled.

In another chapter the C&AG looked at the amount of accumulated losses that exist and which can be used by companies against future corporation tax bills.