THE CONSTRUCTION firm of Independent TD Mick Wallace has made a €2.1 million settlement with the Revenue Commissioners for under-payment of VAT.
The settlement, which arises from the failure of MJ Wallace Ltd to make full tax returns on apartment sales over a two-year period, will be published on the Revenue’s next quarterly list of tax defaulters next week.
The Wexford TD believes that none of the money will be paid to Revenue because his company is insolvent and he is not personally liable.
He admits to having knowingly made a false VAT declaration to Revenue but says he did so in order to save his company and expected to be able to pay the money due at a later date.
“With hindsight, if I had realised the business was unsaveable, I wouldn’t have tried to save it. By filling in a false declaration, I was trying to save the company. I thought we would get the money. I thought I could see light at the end of the tunnel but I was wrong.”
Under the agreement with Revenue, MJ Wallace was found to have underdeclared VAT liabilities on returns by €1,418,894. Interest came to €289,146 and penalties amounting to €425,668 were imposed, giving a total of €2,133,708.
A Revenue settlement is the final, agreed sum but does not imply payment has been made.
Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr Wallace said he had decided it was better to come forward with news of the settlement rather than have it come to light as part of the overall list of defaulters. “I’m going to get hammered anyway. This kind of thing is happening to builders every day of the week but I’m different because I’m in the Dáil.” What he did was wrong but he wasn’t in a position to undo it now, he said.
Mr Wallace has also revealed that ACC Bank threatened to bankrupt him several times in the past year over unpaid debts. “It’s one of the options they’re considering.”
Last November, the bank secured a €19.4 million judgment against MJ Wallace and a receiver was appointed over the company’s assets.
Under law, any TD who is declared bankrupt is required to resign his or her Dáil seat. Mr Wallace says he would fight any such move by the bank. “I didn’t fight the €19.4 million settlement but I would fight bankruptcy,” he said.
A Revenue spokeswoman said where an individual or company failed to pay, normal enforcement procedures applied, ranging from sheriff enforcement to liquidation.
Although MJ Wallace Ltd does not have a tax clearance certificate, Mr Wallace said he himself did. “Mick Wallace is completely tax compliant,” he said.
Asked whether he was a fit person to sit in the Dáil following the settlement agreed with Revenue last February, Mr Wallace pointed out that his businesses had paid €15 million in tax and were completely tax-compliant from 2000 up until his problems arose in 2008/09.
“Who’s fit to be a public representative? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. I tried to be as honest as I could.”