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Irish Revenue Seeks Stolen Tax Disk To Locate Unpaid Tax In Switzerland

Monday, February 15, 2010

It has emerged that Ireland's Office of the Revenue Commissioners is to request information from Germany following the latter's purchase of a stolen tax disc containing details of accounts held by European nationals in bank accounts in Switzerland with outstanding tax liabilities.

While the purchase of the disc was surrounded by heated discussions in Germany’s coalition government, it was decided, after clearing the legality of the purchase, that the benefits of buying the disk to the German taxpayer outweighed the moral qualms, and the EUR2.5m price tag. German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble decided that the government had a duty to avail of any opportunity to increase tax collection, in light of the fiscal problems facing Germany. It is thought that by purchasing the disc - based on the analysis of one hundred samples - the German government will generate in the region of EUR400m in additional revenues.

The Revenue Commission is just one of a number of governments – others include the Dutch, Belgian and Austrian authorities - that have announced interest in obtaining a copy of the information to carry out their own individual investigations.

“In similar circumstances in the past, we asked the German authorities if they would provide us with any information relating to Irish tax evaders. They agreed to our request,” A spokesperson for the Revenue Commissioners, told the Irish Independent. "We will adopt the same approach on this occasion."

The German government previously shared purchased tax information on accounts held offshore in Liechtenstein in 2008. On that occasion, Germany shared the data with Ireland, but there was no evidence of tax evasion from Irish nationals.