Written Answers. - VAT Payments

420.

asked the Minister for Finance if he will give details of the total number of VAT payments refused from clients or companies by the Revenue Commissioners in 1983 and 1984; the total amount of money involved; the reasons for these refusals; if this is standard practice; his attitude to this situation; and if he will make a statement on the entire VAT payments situation.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that details of value-added tax payments returned by the Collector-General to traders in 1983 and 1984 were as follows:

No. Of Cases

Value

1983

1,207

£5,038,950

1984

1,901

£9,459,442

In each of these cases which were concerned solely with VAT on internal activities as distinct from VAT on import the Collector-General had issued a certificate to an enforcement agency (Sheriff or County Registrar) in respect of all or part of the liability and accrued interest. It is the general practice that, once a certificate has been issued to an enforcement agency in respect of outstanding tax and interest, the execution of the certificate is left to that agency. Accordingly in each of the cases referred to above, the payment was returned to the trader and he was instructed to pay the tax and interest under enforcement to the enforcement agency, together with costs, and to pay any liability not under enforcement directly to the Collector-General.

Before overdue tax is referred to an enforcement agency for collection, the trader receives at least one notification of liability arising, for example, from the non-receipt of a VAT return. In the absence of a response to that notification a demand is issued and the trader is advised of the imminence of enforcement action. If the trader fails to respond to this, enforcement action is taken and it is appropriate that the trader should be required to pay the tax and interest to the enforcement agency together with costs.

The Deputy will appreciate that, if the Collector-General were as a matter of course to accept payments where enforcement action had taken place, such action would lose its efficacy as a deterrent to non-compliance with the statutory requirements in relation to the submission of returns and payment of tax and the enforcement procedures would become much more complicated than they are at present. There are, therefore, compelling practical reasons for the maintenance of the present practice.

As regards the general VAT payments situation, the Revenue Commissioners have assured me that they are continuing to keep the overall position in relation to VAT payments under close surveillance.