The tax defaulters list; June to September

The Revenue Commissioners published their quarterly list of tax defaulters during the week. It’s always worth a scan through if you’re a nosey bollocks who doesn’t like tax avoiders journalist at a loose end.

Revenue Tax Defaulters List for June 1 to September 30 2009

€179.4m was recouped altogether, with details of the big-baddies being made public. It was a colourful bunch this time too, a postman, the owner of a lap-dancing club, a taxi driver, a singer and – with impeccable timing – a priest, were all amongst the redden-faced. The usual types were in there of course also – property developers, construction industry types, farmers, auctioneers, company directors, etc.

The papers and broadcasters, as is their perogative, covered the stories of the lads and lassies fined big numbers. I prefer the other stories though, the ones that tend to get glossed over… you know, the people fined just forty or fifty grand – as opposed to millions – for trying avoid contributing to the country’s coffers…

It’s been a tough few months for Michael McDarby and Séan Acton. Back in February 2008 the two lawyers from Mayo were dragged before the Solicitor’s Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT), where they were found guilty of eight counts of professional misconduct. An embarassing incident, no doubt. According to the Mayo News, the counts included…

…providing misleading information in October 2004 when they were investigated by the Law Society; failing to process solicitor/client fees through the account office; failing to maintain a proper audit trail when handling their clients’ monies, and failing to furnish a bill of costs to clients.

Among the other charges registered against them were failing to record professional fees in their account books; failing to provide clients with details in writing of charges recovered from third parties, and failing to maintain proper books of account.

The important basics; the Tribunal found they had been charging clients fees for services supplied on personal injury cases even though those fees were covered by insurance. McDarby and Acton did this by setting up bank accounts which allowed them to trade off-the-books. The Law Society (prosecuting) described it as “sophisticated system” and the SDT fined them €25,000 each. However, fines imposed by the SDT must go before the High Court for approval…

The two appeared before the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Richard Johnson, in November last year – where things went from bad to worse. Justice Johnson felt the fines were too low, and upped them from €25,000 each to €100,000 each. He also ordered the pair to pay costs for the Law Society and SDT, which reached something close to €80,000. Ouch…

Luckily, for the two lads, Justice Johnson stopped short of suspending the pair. He simply ordered that their work be “supervised by a qualified solicitor”, even though the Law Society repeatedly stated neither man was fit to practice. Incidently, this all reminds me of what happened to another tax-defaulting solicitor I’ve written about in the past, Colm Carroll. I’m still wondering what it takes for a solicitor to get struck off in this country…

Then this week, upon study of the list of defaulters, we find Revenue has got the solicitors’ firm (Michael McDarby and Séan Acton together, aka Michael McDarby & Co.) for failing to pay €9,545 in tax. They imposed penalties (including interest) of €12,682.82 on top of the recouped tax, bringing the total fine to €22,227.75. Thanks lads…

But wait, dear reader, there’s a kicker – and a pretty one at that. Revenue also found Michael McDarby personally should pay a further €35,830 for underdeclaration of income tax.

Ahh jaysus, the poor fella

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