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PAC 'not satisfied' Garda College still operating under multiple tax codes

In its latest report, the PAC state that last year the gardaí declared its intention to the committee to bring the organisation under one tax code by the end of March.

Image: RollingNews.ie

THE PUBLIC ACCOUNTS Committee has said it is “not satisfied” with the undue delay in the process of bringing the Garda College under one single tax code.

Last June, there was widespread confusion over the status of Templemore College’s tax returns to Revenue.

Under questioning, chief administrative officer of the gardaí, Joe Nugent, said there were five Garda tax numbers at Templemore.

In its latest report, the PAC state that last year the gardaí declared its intention to bring the organisation under one tax code by the end of March.

However, the PAC report launched this week states that this has not yet happened.

Speaking at the launch of the report this week, chairperson of the committee, Fianna Fáil’s Sean Fleming said the gardaí has made “substantial progress” in dealing with outstanding issues surrounding the Garda College.

Tax irregularities 

However, he said the committee wanted the financial and tax irregularities “completely put to bed”.

The committee said it is satisfied that progress has been made in the winding down of the Sportsfield Company (concerns were highlighted that senior gardaí were directors of the company and that the operation could be in breach of the Standards in Public Office Commission), as well as the transferring of land assets to the OPW.

The report adds that “while significant progress has been made by An Garda Síochana in implementing recommendations of the interim audit report of the financial procedures of the Garda College Templemore, further commitment is required to bring the process to a conclusion promptly”.

Catherine Murphy of the Social Democrats said a recent parliamentary question released to here shows that a number of tax codes have not yet been closed off, adding that there are still five tax numbers, when there should be one, as promised.

PAC REPORT 758A7054_90518248 PAC members Labour's Alan Kelly and Fianna Fáil's Sean Fleming. Source: Eamonn Farrell

Fleming said some organisations are “very good and timely at coming back with responses [to the committee] but An Garda Síochana have not excelled in that department”.

Garda bar 

In addition, the PAC was informed this month that the gardaí paid a settlement to Revenue of €38,000 in respect of the Garda College bar.

Last year, it was revealed that despite the bar rarely being open, it had a bank balance of over €417,000. The gardaí later acknowledged there was an underpayment of tax in relation to the bar.

A review found there was incorrect accounting of VAT on bar sales since 2010 resulting in a liability of around €22,000 (plus interest and penalties of €4,000).

There was also errors in payroll taxes on casual wages for the period 2014 -2016 in the bar resulting in a liability of around €10,000 (plus interest and penalties of €1,500.

It is understood that An Garda Síochana is still awaiting a determination from the Revenue Commissioners on the matter.

It was recently reported that Garda management is considering reopening the controversial bar at the training college. The bar has been closed since 2016.

The gardaí were asked for comment in relation to tax matters at the college at Templemore, however An Garda Síochana said it was unable to reply to the query by the time of publication. 

Read: Bar at Templemore Garda College is rarely open, but has a bank balance of €417k>

Read: Massive infighting among top gardaí over Templemore scandal>

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