Revenue starts fresh offshore tax inquiry after €84m haul

Evaders who missed deadline will face ‘substantially higher penalties’

Taxable income: Revenue now shares data with more than 100 tax authorities internationally

Taxable income: Revenue now shares data with more than 100 tax authorities internationally

 

Revenue said on Friday that it has initiated a fresh investigation to identify offshore tax evaders. The announcement comes after a deadline passed earlier this year for people to admit they had undeclared income offshore.

As minister for finance Michael Noonan announced, in the 2016 budget, that anybody with undeclared offshore income had until early May 2017 to make a “qualifying disclosure” and qualify for a “discounted” penalty rate of 10 per cent of the tax due.

Revenue confirmed on Friday that it had received €84 million as a result of 2,734 disclosures before May 5th of this year, including €53 million in owed taxes, €25 million in interest and €6 million in penalties. “Anyone who did not come forward by the May deadline now faces substantially higher penalties, publication in the quarterly list of tax defaulters and possible criminal prosecution,” said Declan Rigney, head of the organisation’s planning division.

Revenue, which set up an offshore-assets group in 2001, has raised €1 billion through offshoretax investigations over the past 15 years; its job under the current strand of inquiry has been helped by improved data sharing between more than 100 tax authorities internationally. “Using the large volume of data available to us, we have started an inquiry to identify and pursue those who have attempted to use offshore accounts, structures or assets to evade or avoid their tax obligations,” Mr Rigney said.

Paradise Papers

Revenue is also examining information and allegations arising from the Paradise Papers, a trove of millions of leaked records that came to light this month, shedding light on the lengths to which wealthy individuals and companies around the world go to in order to hide assets offshore, to minimise their tax bills.

“As further information becomes available from this or any other source, we will likewise examine it,” Mr Rigney said. “Revenue will also work in close co-operation with other tax administrations, in the framework of the OECD’s joint international taskforce on shared intelligence and collaboration, to address issues raised by the Paradise Papers and will, as appropriate, share information with these other tax administrations.”

Revenue said 1,196 – or 43 per cent – of the disclosures made by May 4th related to assets or income in the UK, 377 in the US and 183 in France. Property accounted for 29 per cent of the assets and income admitted to, followed by shares, at 20 per cent, bank accounts, at 17 per cent, and pensions, at 16 per cent.

The organisation added that it can now match data it receives from other jurisdictions with taxpayer records and cross-check against previous returns to ensure all relevant income and assets have been declared.“We also feed the data into our social-network analysis and anomaly-detection tools to highlight suspicious cases,” Daniel Sinnott, head of Revenue’s research, analytics and information-management branch, said.