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Revenue chief in warning to overseas tax avoiders

The taxman has issued a stark warning to people squirrelling away cash overseas to evade tax – get in touch with me, before I get in touch with you.

Revenue chief Niall Cody said his officials recouped around 60 million euro last year in unpaid taxes due on money hidden in offshore accounts.

And with the revelations in the so-called Panama Papers – leaked files exposing offshore dealings of businesses and individuals around the world – Mr Cody said he was working on identifying Irish names involved.

“We would strongly recommend any person or business that has used offshore financial structures to evade tax to contact us and make a full disclosure before we contact them,” he said.

Media organisations who leaked 11.5 million documents detailing offshore dealings at the Panama-headquartered law firm Mossack Fonseca have refused requests from tax authorities to hand over the information.

Some have cited protection of sources.

But Mr Cody said Revenue is “carefully considering” how to make the most of all information open to them to pinpoint Irish residents involved in offshore tax evasion.

“While we have had major success in investigating tax evasion, the new information sources that are coming on stream will shine a light on individuals and businesses that have used offshore facilities,” he said.

“Much of this is perfectly legal, but undoubtedly there are some that are not.”

Revenue expects “significant developments” over the coming year in international agreements between tax authorities to share more information will help them crack down on overseas tax evasion.

Launching Revenue’s annual report, Mr Cody said he was equally focused on tax avoidance at home.

Last year, 160 tax avoidance cases were settled gathering an extra 42 million euro for the public purse.

Overall, Revenue collected 45.8 billion euro for the State coffers – up by more than a tenth on the previous year.

It was the second highest tax collection in the history of the State after the peak of the boom in 2007.

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Officials were also involved in 4,826 drugs seizures last year, netting illegal substances with a street value of 23 million euro.

More than 215,000 litres of illegal fuel was recovered along with almost 68 million black market cigarettes, valued at 34 million euro.

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