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Irish Labour Party Calls For Tougher Stance On Tax Evasion

by Jason Gorringe,, London

27 December 2004

Speaking following the release by Ireland's Revenue Commission of a statement revealing that it had collected EUR97.11 million from tax evaders in the third quarter of this year, the Labour Party's spokesperson for Finance, Joan Burton, urged the government and tax authority to assume a still tougher stance on the matter.

Deputy Burton observed that:

“Whilst today’s figures show that the significant settlements made in the three month period from July-September this year mainly related to historic cases to do with Ansbacher, bogus non-resident and off-shore accounts, it is still alarming to see how many people indulged in tax evasion and avoidance of this sort."

She went on to add that:

“The Revenue Commissioners are to be congratulated on pursing tax defaulters and reaping such a rich dividend but the continuing level of criminal tax evasion is a matter of great concern, especially when in the same period prosecutions were initiated against just 18 defaulters," and concluded:

“The public must move away from the perception that tax avoidance is worth the gamble. I do not believe that everyone involved in tax evasion should automatically be prosecuted or should go to jail. However, unless the Revenue begin to more frequently use the powers available to it to initiate prosecutions, the current level of evasion will continue.”

According to the Revenue Commissioners, of the overall revenue collected between July and August of this year, EUR20.7 million related to bogus non-resident account holders, and EUR1.29 million was raised in connection with an investigation into National Irish Bank (NIB). Continuing attempts to collect from former Ansbacher account holders and Irish residents with undeclared offshore accounts also bore fruit, the tax department revealed.

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