Dáil Éireann - Volume 420 - 27 May, 1992
Written Answers. - Revenue Commissioner's Powers.
Mr. Kavanagh Mr. Kavanagh
52. Mr. Kavanagh asked the Minister for Finance the steps he proposes to take to ensure that the Revenue Commissioners exercise their new powers with the maximum degree of restraint in view of the concerns expressed by many practising accountants on this matter, and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern) Bertie Ahern
Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern): The new powers conferred on the Revenue Commissioners by the Finance Bill, 1992 are designed to support the ongoing drive against tax evasion and avoidance. The powers are needed so as to enable Revenue:
—to undertake an effective audit programme as part of the Self Assessment System;
—to counter and deter tax evasion, especially in areas where it is suspected that such practices may be extensive;
—to ensure that schemes of avoidance come to light more quickly, enabling countervailing legislative action to be taken expeditiously;
—to protect VAT revenue receipts in the Single Market when VAT on import and frontier controls will have to be discontinued for intra-EC transactions.
The powers relate mainly to the mandatory filing of returns by certain third parties and by company Directors, the keeping and inspection of records and an extension of the present powers of search for records and of Revenue's ability to attach the assets of tax defaulters.
I would emphasise that the bulk of compliant taxpayers have nothing to fear from the new powers. There is no desire on my part or that of the Revenue Commissioners to impose undue burdens on  taxpayers who pay their fair share of taxes.
Safeguards on the use of these powers are built into the legislation. For example, the search of a private residence where records may be kept may be undertaken only where the occupier permits or where a warrant is obtained from the District Court. In general, the powers may be exercised only by officers who have been specifically authorised in that regard by the Revenue Commissioners.
I have been assured by the Board of the Revenue Commissioners that the officers concerned will receive appropriate training and guidance in the use of these powers, particularly as regards entry to, and searches of, premises, and that the use of the powers will be closely monitored by the Revenue Board. Taxpayers will also be reminded of their rights under the Taxpayer's Charter. Where a taxpayer feels aggrieved he can ask for an independent review of his case, including a review by the Ombudsman.
I would emphasise that it is in the interests of all taxpayers that the problem of evasion — which can involve large sums of money and which can pose formidable obstacles for Revenue officials — is tackled effectively.
Finally, I would like to say that the Government also will be keeping the use of the powers under close review.
Dáil Éireann 420 Written Answers. Revenue Commissioner's Powers.