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Tax Collection

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 30 September 2010

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Questions (128, 129)

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

125 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the number of cases in respect of which instructions have issued to the Sheriff for collection of taxes from small businesses in 2010; the number of cases in which such taxpayers have gone into liquidation or ceased trading; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34124/10]

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Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

126 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if the Revenue Commissioners have been instructed to enforce collection of outstanding taxes through the office of the Revenue Sheriff; if cognisance is taken of the current economic situation and the extra burden caused by the imposition of the Sheriff’s fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34125/10]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 125 and 126 together.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that data is not separately maintained on the enforcement action taken by them against small businesses. However, I am informed that a total of 22,668 certificates in respect of €385m. in unpaid tax liabilities were issued by Revenue to the Sheriffs in the period from 1 January to 31 August 2010 (which is a slight decrease on the same period in 2009). A total of 17,498 businesses that were registered with Revenue ceased trading in the same period. 1,206 of these businesses were companies that have gone into liquidation. Some 30% of the companies that went into liquidation in that period were wound up by their members with no outstanding debts to any creditor. Of the remainder, Revenue initiated legal proceedings that lead to the courts winding up some 36 companies by way of the appointment of a liquidator.

The Revenue Commissioners are charged with responsibility for collection and recovery of a wide range of taxes and duties. The Revenue Commissioners take the decision on what collection and recovery measures should be deployed in any specific case and in what timeframe and are not subject to any direction by me in that regard. I know that Revenue has a strong focus on making sure that everyone complies with their tax and duty responsibilities by paying the right amount and on time. Revenue expects businesses to continue, notwithstanding the difficult economic circumstances in which they are now operating, to maintain a clear focus and organise their financial affairs to ensure that tax debts are paid as they fall due. Revenue is fully determined to take the necessary collection enforcement action, including referral of cases to the Sheriffs, to pursue tax debts from taxpayers that fail to meet their liabilities on time and do not engage fully and honestly with Revenue in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement to return the business to full tax compliance as quickly as possible. I fully support what Revenue are doing in that regard.

I know that Revenue is conscious of the difficult economic and financial climate in this country and how that impacts on business in being timely compliant. Revenue has actively encouraged businesses experiencing particular payment difficulties to work proactively with them when such difficulties start to arise to find an agreed way through those difficulties and quickly restore voluntary timely compliance.

I am aware that the feedback from trade representative and tax practitioner bodies to the work of Revenue in that regard has been positive and is regarded as an effective way of supporting businesses who are disposed to addressing payment difficulties in a positive, realistic and proactive way.

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