Tuesday, 27 June 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
67. Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Finance the reason the number of tax audits have fallen from 1 in 80 in 1995 to 1 in 153 in 2000; the plans he has to provide additional staff or resources for the audit section of the Revenue Commissioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18162/00]
Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy): I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the ratios quoted seem to be based on the most intensive type of audit, referred to as comprehensive audit. Revenue consider that it is more appropriate to look at the totality of the audit programmes comprising all forms of audit activity.
On this basis, there has been a reduction in the total number of tax audits, excluding capital tax audits, from about 23,000 in 1995 to about 17,000 in 1999. Taking a ratio of the number of audits completed in comparison with the number of self-assessed taxpayers, the figures show a reduction from a ratio of about one in 14 to about one in 22.
Reasons for the reduction in the actual numbers of audits carried out include the following: there has been a change in the variety of audits carried out. Fewer VAT and PAYE audits were carried out in 1999 as compared with 1995; training was provided in 1998 and 1999 for 160 auditors as part of a restructuring agreement finalised in 1998 and this reduced availability for audit work and auditors were transferred at various times during 1999 to special project work connected with the various tribunals of inquiry, the DIRT look-back audits and the Ansbacher investigation.
Having regard to the significant increase in the number of taxpayers registered for tax, I have authorised a very substantial increase in the number of Revenue staff. I understand that the Revenue Commissioners have in mind to allocate 155 extra staff for audit and investigative work but implementation of this has been delayed because of issues raised by the trade union representing staff, which are the subject of discussion.
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