Almost 6,000 people registered as tax exiles

Almost 6,000 citizens are registered as tax exiles with the Revenue Commissioners, it was claimed today.

Revenue chairperson Josephine Feehily told the Public Accounts Committee that the business people are closely monitored to ensure they only spend 183 days a year in the state or 280 days in any two-year period.

PAC chairman Bernard Allen said the tax exile scheme annoys ordinary people who have tax deducted from their salaries every week.

Ms Feehily, who was appointed as Revenue chairperson a year ago, said: “In 2007, 5,803 people declared themselves to be non-resident for tax purposes on their tax forms.”

Of this total, at least 440 are super-rich individuals whose activities are closely monitored.

Mr Allen told the Committee: “I had to sit through a function recently where I was subjected to a lecture from a tax exile on how to do our business and where we should be spending our hard-earned money.

“The whole scheme is a source of great annoyance to those who have no choice - their taxes are stopped from their salaries automatically as well as other levies.”

Ms Feehily told TDs: “We would monitor the movements of high-worth individuals every year using various devices such as media monitoring and other data we have access to. We ask them to produce documentary evidence of their absence or presence in Ireland every year.

She added: “The law is very clear and very simple.”

Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming asked how much tax the 5,803 exiles paid but Revenue officials said that information was unavailable but would be supplied.

Mr Fleming added: “There is a lot of mystique and public annoyance out there.

“It has created controversy that people who jet in and jet out and are here for four or five months of the year off and on.”

He asked if Revenue monitors which countries tax exiles are living or working in when they are not in Ireland.

“Are we talking about The Man From Nowhere,” asked PAC chairman Mr Allen.

Ms Feehily explained that the 183-day residency rule applies across most countries in the world.

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