Mel Gibson’s Irish film tax fraud allegations a matter for Revenue, Dáil told

Minister declines to comment as TDs highlight exploitation claims in industry

Actor Mel Gibson. Sinn Féin arts spokesman Peadar Tóibín said Gibson’s lawyers had accused the producer of a movie part-filmed in Ireland, “of seeking to swindle Ireland’s tax authorities”. File photograph: Fred Prouser/Reuters

Actor Mel Gibson. Sinn Féin arts spokesman Peadar Tóibín said Gibson’s lawyers had accused the producer of a movie part-filmed in Ireland, “of seeking to swindle Ireland’s tax authorities”. File photograph: Fred Prouser/Reuters

 

Allegations by Hollywood actor Mel Gibson that a production company attempted to defraud Ireland’s tax authorities, are a matter for the Revenue Commissioners and other authorities, the Dáil has heard.

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan said: “I am not going to comment on Mel Gibson’s issue. That is a matter for him.”

But she welcomed the willingness to put a forum in place on developments and working conditions in the Irish film industry and said Screen Ireland, the former Irish Film Board, would discuss this at a meeting later this month.

She was responding to Sinn Féin arts spokesman Peadar Tóibín and People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett whose raised concerns about the use of section 481 tax reliefs for the film industry.

Mr Tóibín said Gibson’s lawyers had “accused the producer of The Professor and the Madman of seeking to swindle Ireland’s tax authorities”. The production was part-filmed in Ireland.

He said: “Allegations have been made that expenses related to the making of the film have been inflated so that the amount of tax relief achieved by the film is higher than it should be and, therefore, the workers and the taxpayers of this country would be at a loss if those allegations are true.”

The Meath West TD said that if the claims were true, then section 481 “is not rigid enough”.

Loopholes

A review had been conducted of the tax relief and he asked if it had “closed those loopholes”.

Mr Tóibín also noted that €73 million of the tax relief was concentrated within 12 companies, a very uneven spread of the relief which he said could be “mitigating against jobs coming to Ireland”.

Mr Boyd Barrett claimed those 12 companies “employ next to nobody”. He had spoken to film workers protesting outside Ardmore Studios who had worked on numerous productions for those companies for up to 20 years but “have been disowned by these companies and have no security of employment”.

The Dún Laoghaire TD said the situation could not continue where film workers were being blacklisted.

Protests

Ms Madigan acknowledged that over the past two years there had been sporadic industrial relations incidents manifested through protests by film workers outside film sets and Oireachtas offices.

She said Screen Ireland was addressing the issue. “I hope that a forum will develop from that in which all the stakeholders can be involved and through which they can come to an amicable resolution.”

The Minister acknowledged the work and report by the Oireachtas culture committee on developing the audiovisual industry and employment within it. Much of its work overlapped with the Government’s action plan launched a few weeks earlier.

She said there were good reasons to hold an industry forum to deal with “developments and working conditions in the Irish film industry”.