Wednesday, 28 January 2004

Questions (103)

John Deasy

Question:

215 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons in each county that have been penalised for holding bogus non-resident accounts; if bank officials presented and promoted them; the reason the officials have not been investigated by the Revenue Commissioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2345/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Finance)

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that their work on bogus non-resident account holders continues. To date about 10,500 taxpayers who held such accounts have made payments of €486 million, on foot of previously undeclared tax liabilities, together with interest and penalties. As the inquiries involve a substantial number of individuals and are ongoing, it is not possible to give a precise breakdown as requested by the Deputy.

There has been general comment on the role of the financial institutions regarding such accounts. No evidence has become available to the Revenue Commissioners that bank officials presented or promoted the accounts to their customers.

The matter is linked to the approach the financial institutions took when dealing with deposit interest retention tax. Revenue conducted an on site DIRT retrospective audit of 37 financial institutions during 1999 and 2000. Its focus was the DIRT position of the financial institutions. However, many bogus non-resident deposit accounts that belonged to taxpayers were identified. At its conclusion financial institutions made payments totalling €220 million to Revenue. These payments represented DIRT, that should have been deducted, together with the related interest and penalties. Revenue made a report on the matter to the Committee of Public Accounts. The Committee commented on the outcomes of these audits in its final report on the DIRT Inquiry that was finalised on 3 April 2001.