REVENUE BLITZ

A large number of businesses in Inishowen have been blitzed by revenue officials seeking out “illegal” workers and practices in recent weeks, the ‘Journal’ has learned.

One source yesterday said the officials have been targeting businesses such as hotels, restaurants and bars where there is a large number of casual employees working especially over the summer months.

The source alleged the revenue officers are seeking out areas where employees have been working for cash in hand and avoiding PRSI and Universal Social Charge contributions.

A revenue spokesperon confirmed “cash businesses” such as bars, nightclubs, wholesalers, fast food and construction (one off housing) were amongst their main focus.

It is also believed this is a joint operation with social welfare to uncover anyone who is illegally working and claiming benefits.

Tom Kelly, a spokesperson from the Inland Revenue authorities confirmed they have visited a number businesses in the past month and that this type of work has been underway throughout Donegal since the start of 2011.

However, as taxpayer information is confidential, Mr. Kelly would not disclose details as to whether there are any active cases against businesses in the peninsula.

Mr Kelly said the activity in Inishowen is part of an effort to combat ‘the shadow economy.’

“Our focus is on any sector that has the ability to deal in cash. In our experience one of the biggest risks is the suppression of sales and under-declaration of income and profits.”

Mr Kelly confirmed they would be using a number of tactics including ‘unannounced visits, surveillance or the use of intelligence, examining books or records, interviews, employee/stock checks and follow-up visits’ to combat what he described as ‘any illegal activity’ in businesses in Inishowen.

“We use all the information sources available to us to help identify and target the riskiest cases of non-compliance across all sections of the economy. We have multiple data sources including information from deposit accounts, credit union accounts and Suspicious Transaction Reports.

“We work very closely with the Department of Social Protection in our shadow economy work, and last year joint investigation units made nearly 5,800 checks, visits or inspections”

The revenue employee also told the ‘Journal’ their focus was not just on cash businesses but also extended to while collar cash such as doctors, dentists, vets, solicitors, teachers and night classes.