Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 220 - Customs and excise controls [Tobacco] [39739/13].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 220 - Customs and excise controls [Tobacco] [39739/13]. (24 Sep 2013)

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220. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied with the current level of Customs and Excischecks and investigations along the border counties regarding the illegal importation of cigarettes here; if he has had any discussions with the Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners regarding a strategy to increase the level of check points and staffing of Revenue's border offices to clamp down on this activity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39739/13] 

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan):  I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they are very conscious of the threat that the illegal importation of cigarettes poses to the Exchequer and to legitimate business and they have adopted a comprehensive strategy to tackle the problem throughout the country as well as in the border counties. Intensified targeting, in co-operation with other law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border, of enforcement action against suspected cigarette smuggling operations has already yielded significant results. To date in 2013, Enforcement officers have seized 10.42 million cigarettes in operations carried out in the border counties. In the same period, there have been 6 convictions for selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco in the border area. Financial penalties were imposed by the District Courts in five of these cases and a sentence to community service was imposed in the sixth case. Revenue is an integrated tax and customs administration and has around 2,000 staff engaged on activities that are dedicated to target and confront non-compliance. These activities include anti-smuggling, audit, assurance checks, debt management, investigations, prosecutions and anti-avoidance. There are over 200 staff engaged on these activities in the border counties of Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth. Revenue has an enforcement presence at all key strategic locations and enforcement strength at particular locations is regularly augmented with additional personnel on a risk-assessment basis, or when particular operations are taking place. The Revenue Commissioners assure me that their enforcement resources have been prioritised and are reinforced as necessary for specific operations.

In line with best practice in tax administration worldwide, Revenue regards the development of information and intelligence as critical to the detection of evasion and smuggling, including cigarette smuggling. Revenue will maintain its approach of seizing illicit cigarettes and prosecuting those who do not comply with the legislation in relation to the illegal importation of cigarettes. In this regard, if the Deputy has specific intelligence which would be helpful, I’m sure the Revenue Commissioners would welcome it.
Government policy on the reduction in civil service numbers overall applies to the Revenue Commissioners in common with other Departments and agencies. However, decisions on priorities for enforcement and compliance activities and on the deployment of Revenue resources to these activities are a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. Revenue’s Strategy Statement, which is approved by me, and its Tobacco Strategy 2011-2013 set out at a high level the priority activities in relation to the fiscal threat posed by tobacco smuggling. I am briefed by the Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners on Revenue’s priorities, challenges and results. In all the circumstances, I am satisfied that Revenue activity in relation to tobacco smuggling on the border with Northern Ireland and at all frontier points is optimised.
Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
Tobacco / Nicotine
Intervention Type
Crime prevention, Policy
24 September 2013

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