McCreevy plans action on PAC report

 

A programme of action in response to the Public Accounts Committee's DIRT report is being prepared as a matter of priority by the Department of Finance.

The Minister for Finance, Mr McCreevy, will provide details of tax changes to his Cabinet colleagues next month, in advance of publication of the Finance Bill.

They are expected to include new powers and regulations for the Revenue Commissioners; measures in relation to the tax appeals process; requirements in relation to statutory provisions on DIRT; clarification of the role of external auditors; and action on dormant bank accounts.

Consideration is also being given to the proposal that a levy - in the form of an act of generosity and restitution - should be imposed on the banking sector because of its participation in tax evasion.

But according to Government sources, because of legal complications and the varying levels of tax compliance by a range of institutions, the idea may not be pursued.

A proposal by the committee that the Revenue Commissioners should engage in a look-back audit on all financial institutions to 1986 is already under way.

The Minister for Finance will examine a proposal that would impose full interest and penalties for all DIRT not collected by the institutions during that period.

Mr McCreevy told the Cabinet yesterday that the report was being given priority and that a special task group in his Department had been asked to draw up a programme of action.

The group would "propose arrangements and procedures to drive and co-ordinate the overall public sector response to the report while maintaining the individual and independent competencies of various relevant agencies."

A statement issued after yesterday's Cabinet meeting said Ministers had agreed the DIRT report should be considered as fully as possible.

A number of tax recommendations are now being examined in the context of the Finance Bill, which will be published in February.