Target owes €600,000 in taxes to Revenue
INSOLVENT TRUCKING company Target Express owes €600,000 in workers’ social insurance contributions and PAYE to the Revenue Commissioners.
Target ceased trading with the loss of 398 jobs this week. Managing director and owner Séamus McBrien claimed the Revenue forced it out of business in a dispute over €175,000 in unpaid taxes.
It emerged yesterday that it is likely to take the State between four and six months to process Target workers’ claims for statutory redundancy, minimum notice and other payments due to them.
Mr McBrien confirmed that the money due to the Revenue is PAYE and social insurance deducted from Target Express workers’ pay.
An affidavit submitted by the company to the High Court earlier this week shows Target owes the Revenue €600,000.
This is made up of three monthly payments of €175,000 in PAYE and PRSI, totalling €525,000; and a further €75,000, also employee deductions, that dates back to last year.
Employers deduct both payments from their workers’ wages and pay them directly to the Revenue. In the case of social insurance, a failure to keep these payments up to date can result in staff losing out on welfare benefits.
Tom Cullen, workers’ representative at Target’s depot in Cork, where staff last night ended a three-day sit-in protest, confirmed the company deducted the payments from employees’ wages.
Liquidators Michael McAteer and Stephen Tennant of Grant Thornton met workers at Target’s depots around the Republic yesterday.
They told staff it could take four to six months to process their statutory pay claims.
As Target does not have the cash to cover workers’ entitlements, they will be paid from a social fund operated by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
It takes the department between four and six months to process and pay such claims.
Workers at the Cork depot said they were informed that back pay and holiday payments would be made in six weeks, while the statutory payments would take up to six months.
While Mr McBrien conceded that Target had PAYE arrears, he pointed out that the company had paid its corporate taxes. He also said Target paid about €700,000 a month to the exchequer in various taxes, including duty on fuel and VAT.
The Revenue last week ordered Target’s three largest customers and its bank to forward directly to the tax authorities money due to the company.
The Revenue makes such orders, known as attachment orders, in exceptional circumstances only.
Figures from the Revenue show that last year it issued attachment orders against 4,460 companies, less than 1 per cent of the 600,000-plus taxpaying businesses in the Republic.
It is thought Target owes €5 million to its single biggest creditor, British-based Close Brothers, an invoice-discounting specialist.
The debt was secured by a charge over the company’s book debts – money owed to it by customers.
Mr McAteer is also acting as receiver to Farnley, Target’s Northern Ireland-based property holding company. Bank of Scotland appointed him this week at the company’s request.
Jim Hamilton and Peter Doherty are provisional liquidators of its Republic property company, ASDA.
Target Express workers at the company’s Cork depot in Little Island agreed to end their sit-in protest last night after talks with the liquidators and Government representatives.
Mr Cullen said the workers had made a collective decision. “Discussions with the liquidator were open, we understood they had a job to do and they expressed what they could do for us,” he said.