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Budget 2017: New measures to tackle tax evasion, in direct response to Panama Papers

Michael Noonan also announced 50 new jobs at the Revenue Commissioners.
Oct 11th 2016, 1:59 PM 5,640 7

shutterstock_303400961 Source: Shutterstock/marcociannarel

FINANCE MINISTER MICHAEL Noonan has announced a number of new measures to combat offshore tax evasion, in response to the revelations contained in the Panama Papers.

He made the announcement as part of his Budget 2017 speech this afternoon.

“From time-to-time,” Noonan said, “as tax evasion evolves and tax issues become evident, the Revenue Commissioners seek additional powers and resources”.

He continued:

“The release of the so called Panama Papers earlier this year showed how defaulters use offshore structures and accounts to avoid paying tax.

“International developments and agreements are leading to the better sharing of information.

In the Finance Bill, I will act to restrict the opportunity for offshore defaulters to use the voluntary disclosure regime with effect from May next year, and I will introduce a new strict liability criminal offence to facilitate the prosecution of serious cases of offshore tax evasion.

What were the Panama Papers? 

The leak, back in April, of 11.5 million tax documents, has exposed the secret offshore dealings of businesspeople, world leaders and celebrities around the world.

An investigation into the documents by more than 100 media groups, described as one of the largest such probes in history, also revealed the hidden offshore dealings in the assets of around 140 political figures.

The vast stash of records was obtained from an anonymous source by German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and shared with media worldwide by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

The documents, from around 214,000 offshore entities covering almost 40 years, came from Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm with offices in more than 35 countries.

The revelation led directly to the resignation of Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, who was confronted over his financial dealings by a TV journalist.

Additional Revenue jobs 

Minister Noonan also announced the hiring of 50 additional staff for the Revenue Commissioners in this afternoon’s speech.

He told the chamber:

I am pleased to announce the allocation of an additional €5 million to the Revenue Commissioners for the recruitment of 50 additional staff and additional investment in systems and equipment.

Read: Putin and Cameron among world leaders and celebrities connected with high-profile Panama Papers>

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