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Irish Revenue Publishes Annual Report

Friday, April 23, 2010

Presenting the Revenue Commissioners annual report for 2009, the head of the Irish tax authority, Josephine Feehily, commented that the year had been difficult for tax collections following the downsizing of Revenue payroll by 500 staff as part of Ireland’s consolidation efforts, falling tax receipts and a marked increase in business insolvencies.

On tax receipts and tax collection, Feehily noted the following:

  • Net tax receipts amounted to EUR33.28bn, down EUR7.79bn against the corresponding figure for 2008, and EUR14bn less than 2007.
  • Debt available for collection in 2009 was EUR1,443 million, up from EUR1,233 million in 2008. Debt available for collection as a percentage of total gross receipts was 2.8%. Outstanding tax debt stood at EUR2.11bn in 2009, up from EUR1.86bn in 2008.
  • Following the downsizing of Revenue’s workforce, the cost of administration as a percentage of Gross Receipts was 1.09%.

Illustrating the scale of the number of businesses in difficulty, Feehily disclosed statistics from Revenue’s debt management programme:

  • In 2009 Revenue wrote off EUR221.5m in tax debts - 85% of these debts were in circumstances of insolvency or where a business simply ceased trading;
  • 1147 companies were wound up in Creditors Voluntary Liquidations, more than double the 2008 number;
  • The number of Receiverships grew to 192, compared to 47 in 2008;
  • There were 91 interim Examinerships compared to 72 in 2008.

On tax audits and offshore investigations, Feehily noted the following developments during 2009:

Revenue’s auditors completed 12,419 audits with an overall yield of EUR602m, up 5.7% on the 2008 yield. Over 361,000 assurance checks, a less resource intensive form of intervention, were carried out in 2009, an increase of almost 14,000 on the 2008 figure. The yield from assurance checks was just over EUR68m.

An investigation into trusts and offshore structures commenced in 2009. The end-year yield was EUR17.6m from 94 cases.

During 2009, a total of 13 Tax Information Exchange Agreements were signed.

Other salient developments during 2009 include:

  • By the end of 2009, a total of 497,502 customers had registered for Revenue’s on-line 'PAYE anytime' service, an increase of over 55% on 2008. There were 669,617 transactions through the service in 2009, up almost 41% on the previous year.
  • Revenue achieved the ISO 27001 information standard for information security management. · A new e-Stamping System was launched in December 2009 following extensive engagement with the Property Registration Authority and the Law Society.
  • Ireland has now concluded comprehensive double tax treaties with 56 countries and negotiations have been concluded with a further 6, which are awaiting signature

Outlining policies for 2010, Feehily said that staff losses are to continue in 2010 and consequently, continually organising and re-engineering Revenue's services will be a key priorities for the Revenue Commissioners. Other priorities will include:

  • Making the best use of Revenue's resources by tackling the riskiest cases;
  • Paying a lot of attention to cash business, working closely with other agencies;
  • Keeping a very clear focus on tobacco smuggling;
  • Increasing take up of our e-services and enhancing our own use of electronic tools for risk selection, audit and compliance;
  • Introducing a mandatory disclosure regime for tax avoidance schemes.