To refer to the point made by Senator O'Kennedy and other Senators, I wish to make absolutely clear that the amnesty legislation will give no protection from prosecution under criminal law. As I explained earlier, people will be able to go to the special collector as they can at present. Under our tax law for over the past ten years gains from illegal activity are taxable. There will be no protection during follow-up examinations by inspectors. The central point is that this legislation will give no protection; during examinations by fraud and investigation units the benefits of the amnesty will not apply. Section 2 (2) (b) (vii) provides that relevant tax shall not include any sum:
being tax in respect of income or chargeable gains which arose from, or by reason of, an illegal source or activity (other than the evasion of tax or the non-compliance with the provisions relating to exchange control),
I quoted from this section because Senator O'Kennedy asked me to clarify which section provided for this exclusion.
Senator Belton asked why the provision on confidentiality was included in the Bill. The 1988 amnesty provided for a waiver of penalties and interest payments. Non-compliant taxpayers from outside the tax net did not avail of this amnesty. As I said earlier, of the 170,000 cases dealt with during the 1988 amnesty, under 400 were unknown to the Revenue Commissioners. I will be able to tell the House early next year whether this Bill will result in non-compliant taxpayers being brought into the tax system. However, if the Bill did not contain the confidentiality clause I could give the answer now. There would have been no point in the Select Committee of the Dáil sitting until midnight for the past fortnight and there would be no point in this House sitting late today to discuss this Bill if it did not contain the confidentiality clause because it would not work. There would be no interest in the amnesty.
The Bill does not provide absolute immunity. As I explained earlier, the process begins when non-compliant taxpayers decide to mend their ways, go to the special collector's office or, more likely, send their accountants, solicitors or advisers in and pay the undisclosed liabilities due from before April 1991. They must decide to become legitimate taxpayers. They must first get their tax certificate. Secondly, they must fill in their tax form for 1992-93 before the end of January and the process begins. If they knowingly give untrue information which they cannot stand over subsequently, the normal audit and inspector systems will investigate their affairs for a number of years regardless of whether it is bank accounts moving out of the country. If one moves one's account out of the country the Revenue Commissioners can still go back and investigate it.
It is fairly clear that by and large the people who avail of this amnesty will decide to regularise their affairs. People who pay the special collector a lump sum covering their back taxes — and remember it is all their taxes, they will pay 15 per cent income tax, capital gains tax and levies but must pay the remaining taxes including VAT, corporation tax, CAT and so on in full — would be rather unwise and I think will not be advised to pay amounts to the special collector which do not stand up in the 1992-93 tax form.
I answered Senator D'Arcy's question in his absence — he probably saw it on the monitor — but as he is now here I will give the answer again. If the individual pays their 1992-93 tax, if they have filled in the form and made a declaration to the special collector they have nothing to worry about. The answer to Senator D'Arcy's question is that they are in the clear.
Problems will only arise for people if they declare one amount to the special collector when they get their special certificate and subsequently try to submit false declarations for 1992-93. From listening to the practitioners over the past weeks, I do not think that will arise. There are people who were non-compliant taxpayers yesterday, today and probably will be in the future but that is a different matter. The Revenue Commissioners with their increased powers will continue to pursue that in the normal way. I think that answers the questions.