Wallace not the first politician to cheat taxman
MICK WALLACE, the property developer and Wexford Independent TD, isn’t the first politician to have cheated with his taxes. And if history is anything to go by, he won’t be the last.
From secret payments via property developers to undeclared income resting in offshore accounts, many politicians have had trouble being truthful about their income in recent decades.
Wallace’s explanation – that he filed a false income declaration to try to save his business – echoes various excuses offered by elected representatives. Former Kerry Fianna Fáil TD Denis Foley dodged tax by using an Ansbacher account but claimed he wasn’t aware he was an account-holder; former Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Michael Collins denied having a bogus non-resident account – until he was prosecuted for obtaining a tax clearance certificate by false pretences; former Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Beverley Flynn didn’t cheat on her taxes, but encouraged some clients to evade tax as an employee of National Irish Bank.
The consequences for politicians who were exposed have been mixed. For most, the details only came to light towards the end of their careers or once they had left public life. Most went on to make settlements with the Revenue Commissioners.
Ward – also known as Dr Francis Constantine Ward – a founder member of Fianna Fáil, became embroiled in controversy in 1946. He owned a pig factory, the Monaghan Curing Company.
He dismissed the manager and replaced him with his brother. This led to Patrick MacCarvill, a former Fianna Fáil constituency rival and brother of the sacked manager, to make a series of allegations about Ward. These included assertions that he had cheated the taxman and that Ward had pocketed £12,000 from the factory’s accounts. The then taoiseach, Éamon de Valera, set up a tribunalto investigate.
Ward was ultimately cleared of several charges but it found that he had evaded taxes and was involved in undisclosed sales.
It is estimated that the former taoiseach took in the equivalent of almost €50 million during his political career. Much of this was later exposed by the McCracken and Moriarty tribunals.
Haughey was not prosecuted for evading tax on his vast secret income but was charged with obstructing the McCracken tribunal. However the trial was postponed following comments made by Mary Harney.
However, he eventually agreed a settlement with the Revenue and paid €6.5 million in back taxes and penalties in relation to undeclared political donations.
The Tipperary TD has been the subject of numerous official inquiries over the past decade and a half and has probably cost the exchequer more than any other politician in the history of the State. Several tribunals have found that he received significant payments held in offshore accounts.
Lowry, who availed of the 1993 tax amnesty, paid Revenue €1.4 million to settle his personal tax affairs and those of his refrigeration company.
Former Fianna Fáil minister Burke become one of the most senior politicians to be jailed on criminal charges after pleading guilty to making false tax returns.
He received a six-month sentence in January 2005, but was released after 4½ months. The planning tribunal identified more than £200,000 in corrupt payments he received from builders and other businessmen. Subsequent investigations by the Criminal Assets Bureau led to a conviction on tax offences.
The Former Fianna Fáil TD for West Limerick had a relatively low profile in Leinster House during his 10 years in the Dáil.
That changed when his name appeared on a list of tax evaders published by the Revenue in 2003. His name cropped up among bogus non-resident account holders following the Dirt tax inquiry. Collins paid the Revenue more than €130,000 in back taxes, interest and penalties but was subsequently prosecuted for obtaining a tax-clearance certificate by falsely claiming to be tax compliant. He was given a 12-month suspended jail sentence and a fine of €25,000.
The former Kerry North Fianna Fáil TD made a €580,000 settlement with the Revenue in relation to undeclared income arising from an Ansbacher account. Foley paid just over €185,00 in tax and €390,000 in interest and penalties. He resigned from the parliamentary party in 2000.