Nursing homes and security sector among Revenue targets


COURIERS, THE security sector, nursing homes and solid fuel merchants will be targeted for audits by the Revenue Commissioners this year, the organisation said yesterday.

Launching its annual report for 2011, the Revenue said it increased its rate of audit activity last year by almost 20 per cent, yielding €520 million in tax and penalties.

The Revenue focused its audits on “shadow economy” activity in the construction industry, where more than 1,800 audits yielded €58.8 million. More than 600 audits of bars and restaurants yielded €16.9 million, while “white collar” professionals and landlords were also targeted.

Cash businesses in those sectors remain “top of our list for 2012”, said Revenue chairwoman Josephine Feehily.

The Revenue would also continue to target the evading of excise duty on diesel.

“Streetscape” operations carried out by Revenue last year – visits to every business on a particular street or in a particular town – revealed “several hundred” cases of employees getting paid off the books. The Revenue will this year launch a programme of on-the-spot fines for employees who do not register for PAYE or keep an up-to-date register of employees.

The Revenue secured more than 1,000 convictions in 2011 for failure to file an income tax return. Some 55 custodial sentences were imposed last year for tax evasion, 21 of which were not suspended. So far in 2012 there have been 15 further custodial sentences, with 10 people going to jail.

The level of outstanding tax debt stabilised in 2011 and is now beginning to decrease, Ms Feehily said. The Revenue increased the number of staff dedicated to debt collection and recovery last year, redeploying them from other areas of the organisation.

“Overall I would say last year was a year of really solid performance in challenging circumstances,” Ms Feehily said.

While tax and duty receipts were €831 million below budget targets, net tax and duty receipts in 2011 were up 7 per cent to €34.2 billion, a reversal of three years of falling returns to the Exchequer.

Ms Feehily said the Revenue had looked at the cases of 2,500 pensioners who had income in excess of €50,000 in addition to their Department of Social Protection pensions. Some 800 of these were new cases where the tax was not yet payable.

The process of examining the rest individually was “extremely labour intensive” and the Revenue was now writing to some of the pensioners concerned “inviting them to self-review” their tax position within 30 days. “We do expect the majority of this group to owe us €2,000-€3,000 a year.”

The Revenue has paid back €2 million to 7,000 pensioners who have overpaid their tax. The question of tax liabilities owed by pensioners arose this year after the Department of Social Protection sent records pertaining to 560,000 cases to the Revenue.