I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 to 155, inclusive, together.
There is a statutory obligation on taxpayers to make correct returns of their tax liabilities and pay the correct taxes due for all years of assessment. Where it becomes known to the Revenue Commissioners that tax has been underpaid it is their responsibility to recover the unpaid taxes together with interest and penalties.
In the case of bogus non-resident account holders, Revenue provided an opportunity to those who had underpaid their taxes to make voluntary disclosures of the undeclared income, together with payment of the resulting tax liability and an amount of interest and penalties, capped at 100% of the tax liabilities, before 15 November 2001. This voluntary disclosure scheme, with its favourable settlement arrangements, was widely publicised, as was Revenue's clear intention to vigorously pursue those who did not avail of it.
As many as 3,675 account holders chose to avail of the voluntary disclosure scheme and paid €227 million in total. Revenue is now investigating individuals who did not avail of the scheme. Their details are being extracted from the lists of bogus non-resident account holders being supplied to the Revenue Commissioners by the financial institutions under High Court orders. To date Revenue has issued letters on 11 October 2002 and 20 January 2003 concerning 35,000 non-resident accounts. There was a very high response rate to the inquiry letters both from individuals who have a liability and from others whose circumstances indicate that there is little or no liability. At present it is not possible to supply the detailed information requested because of the large volumes of responses received and which are still being processed. Revenue has informed me that €161 million has been paid by approximately 4,200 taxpayers. This is in addition to the €227 million which was paid before the 15 November 2001 deadline by 3,675 taxpayers. The numbers and amounts of these payments are likely to increase in the future. It is not possible to estimate what additional numbers and values of settlements will be made with Revenue in the future.
It is a matter of regret that this issue may now be a cause of distress and anxiety to some of the individuals concerned. However, Revenue must continue to pursue the outstanding taxes. Revenue encourages anyone contacted by it or who anticipates such a contact to get in touch with their local inspector of taxes so that the particular facts of their position can be established as quickly as possible.