Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Tax Collection Staffs.

37.

asked the Minister for Finance the number of people employed in the collection of income tax prior to the advent of PAYE; and the number at the present time.

Prior to the advent of PAYE the number of civil servants engaged in the collection of income tax was 141. There were also 57 collectors of taxes who were not civil servants. They were employed on an annual contract basis and engaged their own staff.

This system was changed and replaced by a central collection branch staffed exclusively by civil servants. The number of staff employed on collection at present is 382 but they are also responsible for turnover tax and wholesale tax.

It is relevant to add that the number of persons paying income tax has increased from 220,000 in 1959-60, the year prior to the introduction of PAYE, to over 600,000 at present.

Can the Minister explain why there is such an enormous increase in the number of people now engaged in income tax collection in view of the fact that every employer in the country is in fact an income tax collector? The tax is being collected for the Revenue people and the Government by every employer in the country.

Assessments have to be made and are checked and the number of taxpayers have increased threefold from 220,000 to over 600,000.

It is the employers who are collecting it, not the civil servants.

The Revenue staff have to make assessments, certificates of allowances and so on.

Would it not be true to say that the real explanation is the fact that the Revenue Commissioners have installed a computer and that they had to treble their staff in order to correct the computer?

That is not correct.

It is partially correct.

The fact is that the computerisation of the collection of revenue has been one of the most successful operations carried out in our modern administration.

And one of the most alarming when one finds out that a constituent gets a bill for £10,000 when in fact that person is receiving a pension as a widow.

I am sure the person does not pay it.

It is the Revenue Commissioners' computer which is the cause of this. This should not happen.

The only thing I would suggest is that the Deputy get in touch with Deputy Paddy Burke.

If we put him in the computer God knows what would happen. They would be assessing archbishops for £5 million apiece.