Watchdog investigating five HSE officials for failing to comply with tax rules

Issues show public bodies should face penalty if commission not notified of staff appointments

Holders of senior offices in State organisations must provide proof of tax compliance to the commission within nine months of being appointed, by way of a statutory declaration and a tax clearance certificate. File photograph: iStock

Holders of senior offices in State organisations must provide proof of tax compliance to the commission within nine months of being appointed, by way of a statutory declaration and a tax clearance certificate. File photograph: iStock

 

The State’s ethics watchdog, the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo), is investigating five Health Service Executive officials for failing to comply with rules on proving they are tax compliant.

The matter is highlighted in the commission’s 2020 annual report, but it does not name the individuals involved nor does it give any indication of when they were appointed.

Holders of senior offices in State organisations must provide proof of tax compliance to the commission within nine months of being appointed, by way of a statutory declaration and a tax clearance certificate.

Some appointees faced difficulties in having a statutory declaration witnessed in time at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and alternative arrangements were put in place.

Following a survey by the commission during the year, 12 public bodies reported that they had appointed 35 people to senior roles in their organisations that they had not notified it about previously.

Thirty-three had been made more than nine months prior to the notification to the commission. However, in some cases the appointments had been made years before.

All of the individuals were non-compliant with the notification rules and the commission then wrote to each, seeking that they comply with the rules within 30 days.

Penalty

The issues that continue to arise offer “further evidence” that public bodies should be required notify the commission of senior appointments, and that they should face penalty if they do not.

Six investigations into senior office holders for not complying with tax notification rules began during 2020. One complied during the year, but the remaining investigations are ongoing. All investigations deal with HSE employees.

The investigations were suspended by Sipo due to the pressures on the Health Service Executive at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, but they have now resumed.

Separately, TDs and Senators were required to prove tax compliance within nine months of the Dáil and Seanad elections in 2020. One TD was referred for investigation, but the necessary paperwork has since been filed.

Fifty TDs failed to comply with the proof-of-tax clearance rules within deadlines. However, the commission did not launch an investigation where they later complied.