Irish high-spenders and foreign property investors will be targeted in the Revenue Commissioners’ latest push to reduce the amount of people evading taxes.
More than 700,000 taxpayers will be audited each year to check whether their lifestyles match their tax contributions. High-spending individuals who are identified as paying low tax will be subjected to a detailed audit and may face a hefty tax bill and penalties if found guilty of evasion.
The crackdown will not target PAYE workers whose tax is deducted at source, but will focus on the 580,000 people who file self-assessment tax returns and 140,000 companies that file returns in Ireland.
The Revenue is also seeking powers to probe owners of foreign property by forcing estate agents to release information on Irish residents who purchase property abroad.
It is estimated that more than 100,000 properties in Spain alone are owned by Irish nationals and the new powers, if awarded, would allow officials to check if owners used undeclared funds to buy property and if they received income from renting them out.
The Commissioners will be using a new, high-powered computer system to cross-reference information such as income, payments, savings and tax returns, and to carry out targeted audits.
The new system will gather information such as property transactions and rent to identify high-risk taxpayers whose lifestyles will be checked against the taxes they pay.