Massive rise in people reporting others for tax evasion

Revenue received nearly 6,000 ‘good citizen’ reports in 2019, a figure double that of 2015

Revenue allows users to make reports anonymously and asks for suspects’ car registration details, telephone numbers and evidence of suspected wrongdoing. Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Revenue allows users to make reports anonymously and asks for suspects’ car registration details, telephone numbers and evidence of suspected wrongdoing. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

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The number of people turning others into Revenue for suspicious tax activities has doubled in the last four years, according to figures released to The Irish Times.

Last year, just under 6,000 people filed so-called good citizen reports to Revenue outlining concerns that family, friends or businesses they dealt with were avoiding paying tax or engaging in some other illegal activity.

This includes reports of people working while claiming social welfare, which Revenue passed on to the Department of Social Protection for investigation.

This number has increased steadily since mid-2015 when data on such reports first started being tracked, according to the figures released by Revenue under freedom of information legislation.

In the second half of 2015, there were just 855 good citizen reports. This rose to 3,006 the following year and have increased every year since.

Suspicious activity

It appears likely 2020 will see another record number of reports from members of the public: 3,387 reports of suspicious activity were filed in the first six months alone.

Asked why the number of people informing on suspected tax evasion has increased so dramatically, Revenue suggested it was due to the modernisation of its reporting facilities.

“The availability of our online tax evasion report facility and the anonymity that making a report online provides makes it as easy as possible for citizens to report shadow economy activity to Revenue.”

It said it launched a new website in 2017 which allows good citizen reports, which are also known as shadow economy reports, to be lodged anonymously via mobile phone.

Evidence of wrongdoing

Revenue allows users to make reports anonymously and asks for as much detail as possible to allow it to investigate further. This includes suspects’ car registration details, telephone numbers and evidence of suspected wrongdoing.

Revenue said the complex nature of the investigation process after receiving a report means it is not possible to detail how much money has been recovered as a result of public reports.

However, in 2018, the Oireachtas was told it recovered €4.9 million as a result of 2,971 reports in 2016 and €2.6 million from 4,734 reports in 2017.

“Revenue welcomes reports by citizens in relation to shadow economy activity [tax evasion]. The information received is treated as strictly confidential,” a spokesman said.

“Where the information is sufficiently detailed or specific, we will use it to investigate the business or person suspected of tax evasion across all of their tax obligations, subject to our normal determination of tax at risk.”

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