In todays business world, Compliance is Everything. A raft of new powers which the Revenue Commissioners have been given over the past twenty years or so, together with new technologies, are designed to close every possible loophole that had previously been exploited by unscrupulous tax dodgers. The technology makes it easier for the Revenue to detect evasion and somewhat easier for the tax payer to comply, from the smallest one person operations to the largest corporations. This has meant a huge amount of extra work or expense for the ordinary decent business people who do their best to act honestly and fairly. If you're the owner of a small business, you're probably either taking on the extra work yourself or you're employing an accountant to do relatively small tasks for you. But, if it adds pressure to your day, why try to do it yourself? Being a business owner is often lonely enough without having to lock yourself away to do your least attractive tasks.
You might remember at the time of the last tax amnesty in 1988, the then Minister for Finance, Bertie Ahern TD, announcing tough new anti evasion measures, said that he had no qualms about seeing tax defaulters going to prison. Fortunately, this doesn't happen very often, but we've all seen the quarterly list of "Tax Defaulters" in national newspapers. Nobody wants to see their name in the paper for that reason. In addition, there are now heavy financial penalties for failure to meet the deadlines which Revenue set for the various tax returns. The advent of "Self-Assessment" in recent years has left Revenue officials free to carry out spot checks (tax audits) on targeted people or industries to ensure compliance.