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PQ - Ask the Minister for Finance the number of prosecutions taken by Revenue Commissioners against

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

To ask the Minister for Finance the number of prosecutions taken by Revenue Commissioners against individuals and companies engaged in selling coal door to door or through the internet that is banned from use in this jurisdiction; the number of prosecutions taken against those illegally importing coal from Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


REPLY


Tax law provides that the first supply of coal and peat in the State is subject to excise duty, in the form of Solid Fuel Carbon Tax (SFCT). SFCT applies at different rates to four categories of solid fuel: coal, peat briquettes, milled peat and other peat. The current SFCT rate for coal is €107.98 per tonne and this applies regardless of the characteristics of the coal involved, such as whether it is smokeless, low-smoke or smoky coal.

I am advised by Revenue that SFCT is collected on a self-assessment basis and compliance with the tax law is enforced using the full range of compliance interventions and enforcement provisions for self-assessed taxes. Revenue actively challenges all forms of shadow economy activity and restricts opportunities for deliberate tax and duty evasion. Revenue conducts a broad range of interventions targeting fraud, illicit trade, smuggling and organised crime. Shadow economy teams focus on sectors that present the greatest risk and Revenue's compliance activity in relation to SFCT is continuing in 2023. Details of SFCT interventions undertaken by Revenue since 2017 are given in the table below:

Cases Closed in respective years



​Intervention Type

​2017

​2018

​2019

​2020

2021

​2022

​TOTAL

Appraisal

​5

16

4

​4

​2


31

Aspect Query

16

6

12

​11

​6

​2

​53

Audit

1

1

​2

Profile interview

1

​1

​2

Total intervention

21

24

17

15

8

3

​88

Yield

€1,805


€8,615

€204,560

​€214,980

I understand that in recent years Revenue staff have participated in a number of "joint

operations" with Local Authorities' solid fuel inspection teams, with a view to checking for compliance across several tax headings, including SFCT. Revenue is currently actively

engaging with local authorities with a view to participating in future joint operations.

In circumstances where there are grounds to believe that tax due has not been declared and

paid by a taxpayer, Revenue investigates fully and collects any unpaid tax, together with any interest or penalties due. Members of the public and solid fuel traders who suspect, or have

evidence, that untaxed solid fuel is being sold in their area should report any information to Revenue by contacting Revenue's Confidential Freephone 1800 295 295.

The Deputy has asked about prosecutions against those engaged in selling ·'banned" coal and importing coal "illegally" from Northern Ireland. I am assuming that the Deputy is referring to the sale and importation of coal that does not comply with Ireland's environmental law and standards. Selling or importing smoky coal are not offences under tax law and Revenue has no role in instigating prosecutions for breaches of environmental law. The regulation of solid fuel environmental standards is provided for by the Air Pollution Act 1987 (Solid Fuels)

Regulations 2022. This is an entirely separate legal framework to that which provides for

SFCT. Enforcement of the State's environmental standards for solid fuels, including

restrictions on the marketing, distribution, sale and use of smoky fuels, is the responsibility of Local Authorities.

It is important to note that, under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

Revenue as a national tax authority is prohibited from imposing border controls on solid fuels being transported into the State. However, such imports are open to challenge by Local

Authorities if the fuel does not meet environmental standards in this State. Local Authorities have relevant powers to enable them to take various actions including prosecution against

anyone engaged in the sale, marketing, distribution or use of solid fuels that do not meet the environmental standards set out in the Air Pollution Act 1987 (Solid Fuels) Regulations 2022.

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