Revenue publishes headline results for 2020

Today (06/01/2020), Revenue published preliminary results for 2020 including tax and duty collected, services provided to customers, timely compliance rates and yield from compliance and enforcement interventions. Also published today is information in relation to Revenue’s delivery of critical supports for individuals, employers and other businesses impacted by Covid-19, as well as information regarding Revenue’s support to trade and businesses in preparing for Brexit.

Commenting on the results, Revenue Chairman, Niall Cody, said:

“By any measure, the context in which Revenue publishes its headline results for 2020 is unprecedented in terms of disruption and uncertainty. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a major impact on the Irish economic and social landscape, and the current business environment is in stark contrast to this time last year when we published our preliminary results for 2019. It is against this backdrop that Revenue collected €56.2 billion in taxes and duties for the Exchequer, as well as over €15 billion on behalf of other Departments, Agencies and EU Member States.

Notwithstanding the challenges brought about by the pandemic, overall timely compliance rates for 2020 were only marginally down on 2019. We acknowledge and say thanks for the positive engagement by businesses, individual taxpayers and tax practitioners in ensuring that a continued culture of strong voluntary compliance prevails.

While audit and compliance interventions at a taxpayer’s premises have been suspended since March, we continued to engage with businesses to progress compliance interventions electronically via myEnquiries or by telephone. During 2020 we completed over 378,500 audit and compliance interventions yielding over €484 million. We secured 21 criminal convictions for serious tax evasion and fraud and published 122 tax settlements in the List of Tax Defaulters. Our work in tackling smuggling and other illegal activity continued despite the pandemic, evidenced by the seizure of over 48 million cigarettes worth almost €33 million and over 4,600 kilos of drugs with an estimated value of almost €45 million.”

With the onset of Covid-19, Revenue played, and continues to play, a significant role in the delivery of critical Government supports to affected businesses that help to protect lives and livelihoods. Commenting on Revenue’s contribution to the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr. Cody said:

“The introduction of real-time reporting for PAYE in January 2019 meant that when the pandemic escalated in March, we quickly reengineered our PAYE system, in conjunction with the Payroll Software sector, to support impacted employers and employees. For example, the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme provided more than €2.8 billion in support to 66,600 employers in respect of over 664,500 employees between 26 March and 31 August. 

As part of the July Jobs Stimulus package the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme replaced the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme from 1 September. In 2020, over €1.4 billion has been paid under the scheme to over 39,800 eligible employers in respect of 443,100 employees.

The Covid Restrictions Support Scheme introduced in Budget 2021 supports businesses significantly affected by public health restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, 16,600 businesses are registered for the scheme in respect of 19,000 premises. Total payments made under the scheme currently stand at €146 million. 

The Debt Warehousing Scheme permits Revenue to park VAT and Payroll tax debt that arose on foot of the Covid-19 related restrictions and was recently extended to include self-assessed income tax debt and Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme overpayments. In 2020, 70,000 businesses have availed of the scheme in respect of €1.9 billion of tax debt.”

At 11pm on 31 December, the transition period for the withdrawal of the UK from the EU ended. Commenting on Revenue’s continued focus on helping businesses in respect of Brexit, Revenue Commissioner and Director-General of Customs, Gerry Harrahill, said:

“If the pandemic hadn’t happened the big talking point this year would have been Brexit. Despite the challenges of Covid -19 and its impact on key elements of our role we continued our preparations for Brexit on all fronts throughout 2020. During the year, we wrote to 149,000 businesses with Brexit preparatory advice and further engaged with over 14,500 businesses via telephone. Over 76,925 businesses are now registered for Customs with Revenue and have an EORI number. The launch of our Customs RoRo Service optimises the efficient movement and, where necessary, control of goods and vehicles when moved by ferry between Ireland and Great Britain.  

We appreciate that the new reality of Great Britain being fully outside of the EU is presenting significant challenges for trade and business and that complying with customs formalities imposes additional burdens on them. But compliance is absolutely essential to ensure that Ireland fulfils its obligations as a member of the EU and that we protect the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union. This is vital for Irish business. We will continue to support trade and business in adapting to the new customs formalities brought about by Brexit and as things bed down we will work with individual businesses to resolve specific matters.”

Commenting on Revenue’s response to the challenges presented by Covid-19, Mr. Cody said: 

“I am hugely proud of how Revenue responded to the pandemic. The flexibility, resilience and skills of our people have been paramount in our ability to provide essential Revenue services during what was an extremely challenging year. Our staff quickly adapted to a largely remote working environment and played a critical part in contributing to Government’s overall response to managing the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only did our people deliver new, often complex, initiatives at an unprecedented pace while working in new ways, we also deployed Revenue staff to assist in other critical areas such as contact tracing on behalf of the HSE. I take this opportunity to thank them all for their commitment and professionalism in these challenging times.”

Mr. Cody concluded by saying:

“2020 was the most extraordinary year during which, as a nation and a tax administration, we faced unprecedented challenges. While developments in relation to vaccines are positive, we will need to continue to live with the challenges of Covid-19 in the immediate to medium term. We will continue to work closely with our colleagues in the Department of Finance during this time of economic uncertainty and play our part in administering and overseeing the relevant schemes and measures introduced by the Government in response to the pandemic. 

In addition, the completion of the UK’s departure from the EU fundamentally changes the landscape for trade with and through Great Britain. Our focus is to implement customs controls in a manner that supports legitimate trade while effectively managing compliance risk, tackling illicit trade and protecting the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union.

I am confident that, as an organisation, we are in a strong position to meet these challenges, evidenced by the response of our people to the challenges posed last year."

[Ends 06/01/2021]