FG and Labour to query Ahern's tax affairs

Fine Gael and Labour will be demanding a statement from the Taoiseach about his tax affairs when the Dáil resumes at the end …

Fine Gael and Labour will be demanding a statement from the Taoiseach about his tax affairs when the Dáil resumes at the end of January, following recent media reports about his dealings with the Revenue Commissioners.

The Irish Mail on Sundayreported yesterday that the Taoiseach had received a letter from a tax official querying his Dáil statement in September 2006 about the loans and gifts he received in 1993 and 1994, and disputing the assertion that he had checked the matter with the "tax authorities".

Last week it was reported that Mr Ahern had made a lodgment of €70,000 with the Revenue Commissioners to cover any potential tax liabilities arising from the "dig-out" payments.

Mr Ahern had announced before the general election in May that he had made a provisional payment to the Revenue relating to the loans and gifts he received in the 1990s but he did not specify the figure.


He insisted at the time, however, that he was "totally tax compliant" and did not believe any liabilities arose from the money he was given. He said he expected to be refunded most of the money he had lodged with the Revenue.

The Labour leader, Eamon Gilmore, said yesterday that the latest revelations in a Sunday newspaper about his tax affairs raised new and extremely serious issues for Mr Ahern.

"If these reports prove to be correct, it will be hard to avoid the conclusion that the Dáil was seriously misled by the Taoiseach regarding the status of his tax affairs, particularly when he made a statement in the Dáil chamber in September 2006," said Mr Gilmore.

He added that as each new revelation relating to Mr Ahern's finances emerged, the situation was becoming more and more serious for the Taoiseach, with his authority being further eroded, and his credibility further undermined.

"This is a very serious matter which will, without doubt, have to be addressed when the Dáil returns in January."

The Fine Gael Seanad Justice spokesperson, Senator Eugene Regan, also said that the latest disclosures about Mr Ahern's potential tax liabilities further undermined his credibility and required a clear public statement from the Taoiseach.

"Last year Bertie Ahern repeatedly assured the Irish people on national television and in the Dáil that he had no tax issues arising from so-called dig-out loans and gifts. It now appears that the Revenue Commissioners do not share that view and that the Taoiseach has once again misled the Irish people.

"According to today's Mail on Sunday the Revenue Commissioners took issue with the Taoiseach's claims that he had consulted with the tax authorities and that he had paid capital gains and gift tax," said Senator Regan.

He said that this development underlined the main point of the Fine Gael/Labour no-confidence motion last autumn that the Taoiseach had lost credibility.

"It is also totally unacceptable that someone who was minister for finance at the time and responsible for administering the tax laws of this country did not ensure his own tax affairs were in order.

"It is now time the Taoiseach finally came clean on all these matters. This is a very serious issue and one which will inevitably be the focus of close scrutiny when the Dáil resumes in the New Year," said Senator Regan.

A Government spokesman refused to comment on the media reports about the Taoiseach's dealings with the Revenue Commissioners, saying that his tax affairs were a personal matter. He added that anything relating to the Mahon tribunal would be dealt with at the Mahon tribunal.