Thursday, 2 December 1999
Dáil Éireann Debate
112. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether it is desirable that the Revenue Commissioners are proceeding to seek to jail a person (details supplied) in County Wexford for a failed business despite his best attempts to clear the arrears of trade creditors and other liabilities; and if he will try to ensure that this matter is resolved other than by recourse to imprisonment in view of his inability to repay. [25767/99]
Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy): I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the taxpayer to whom the Deputy refers was prosecuted in his local District Court on 28 July 1999 and was fined a total of £3,000 for failure to submit income tax returns for the years 1992-93, 1993-94, 1994-95 during which he was self-employed. Prior to the prosecution, Revenue had written to the taxpayer twice each year and had made personal calls on three occasions to attempt to contact him with regard to outstanding returns. Although the prosecution was for failure to deliver income tax returns beginning with the tax year 1992-93, the taxpayer has not delivered income tax returns since 1989-90 and has also failed to deliver VAT returns for a number of years prior to the time he ceased trading. The taxpayer finally contacted Revenue by telephone on 9 February 1999 and undertook to contact his accountant to arrange delivery of all outstanding returns. None of the returns has been delivered to date.
I am further informed by Revenue that, on imposing the fines, the District Court judge directed that the taxpayer be given two months in which to pay and imposed a five day jail sentence in default of payment.
The collection of the fines or the enforcement of a jail sentence is not a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. The Deputy will be aware in this context that it is the Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform who are involved in this process.
The Commissioners may in their discretion mitigate a fine by up to 50% in certain circumstances. No request for mitigation has been received. However, even if full mitigation was granted in this case, fines totalling £1,500 would still have to be paid by the taxpayer to avoid the jail sentence.
As regards outstanding liabilities the taxpayer continues to owe tax for the years prior to 1989- 90 and was making some payments up to early 1995. When he ceased trading he obtained employment locally and his tax free allowances in respect of that employment have been restricted to collect £750 per annum of the outstanding tax.
The only suggestion I can make to the Deputy at this stage is that if the taxpayer requests mitigation of the fine it will be looked at sympathetically. At the same time, if he contacts his local inspector of taxes to finally establish the extent of his liabilities, the inspector may be able to assist in determining an appropriate schedule of payments.
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