Thursday, 4 November 2004

Questions (163)

Joan Burton


160 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of tax assessments raised in conjunction with the work of the Criminal Assets Bureau; the number and values of such settlements; and if any of all of these settlements have been disclosed when they are above the limit set by the Revenue Commissioners for disclosure of settlement. [27661/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of tax assessments made by revenue bureau officers from the inception of the Criminal Assets Bureau in 1996 to 31 October 2004 is 1,017. However, this figure does not necessarily represent 1,017 individual cases as there could be a number of separate assessments in different years against one individual chargeable person.

Not all of tax assessments result in settlements. The tax collection process carried out by the Criminal Assets Bureau following on those assessments will include court action for judgment in many cases. In other cases, collection will involve the use of attachment notices seeking payment to the bureau of debts owed to the chargeable person by third parties. Some cases will involve agreed payments and some but not all of those agreed payments will involve formal settlements.

The overall sum for tax collected by 31 October 2004 by the Criminal Assets Bureau since 1996 is €69,262,409. I am also informed by the Garda authorities that it is not possible to be specific as to how much of that recovered sum represents formal settlements as the variety of agreements reached to recover taxes will vary widely across the different types of cases with which the bureau deals.

The revenue bureau officers are subject to strict rules of secrecy under the law attached to their work. This was only lifted by the Oireachtas under the Taxes Consolidation Act to allow the publication of specific types of tax settlements reached with the Revenue Commissioners. Those provisions relaxing the general rule of Revenue secrecy only apply to tax settlements or agreements entered into by the Revenue Commissioners in excess of €12,700. The provision allowing disclosure does not apply to tax settlements entered into with the Criminal Assets Bureau as the law now stands. The Criminal Assets Bureau believes the current position is operationally useful.