Deposit interest retention tax
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Deposit interest retention tax (DIRT) is a form of tax on interest earned on bank accounts in Republic of Ireland that was first introduced in the 1980s. In Ireland, income from any source is reckonable for taxation purposes. The Revenue Commissioners believed that the large majority of interest earners were declining to report it and that the most efficient method to collect at least the basic rate tax would be to deduct it at source. After PAYE, it was Ireland's second experience of a withholding tax.
DIRT is deducted at source by financial institutions. The rate of DIRT (since Jan. 2013) is 33% up until the 2014 budget which it now stands at 41%, except where interest cannot be calculated at least annually and cannot be determined until it is paid, in which case it is 36%.
Persons aged over 65 or incapacitated, whose income is less than the exemption limit (currently €18,000), may claim a refund of DIRT, or may submit an appropriate form to their banks or financial institutions to have interest paid free of DIRT.
It was controversial because taxpayers cannot withhold it in protest because it is taken at source. Some argued that it discourages saving among low-income families, who would not otherwise be liable for taxation, but who might also not understand the need to claim exemption.
In the late 1990s a parliamentary inquiry under Jim Mitchell, TD, established the existence of a culture of encouraging tax evasion within Irish banks, which had allowed wealthy customers to set up non-resident (off-shore, international) bank accounts into which money was transferred, enabling the account holder to avoid paying DIRT. (Such accounts in theory should only have been set up by foreign investors, who would of course pay any tax due to their local authorities.) Thousands of tax-evaders were prosecuted as were leading banks, producing hundreds of millions of Irish pounds of the Irish Exchequer through financial settlements and fines. Several famous Irish people have been found evading the tax, including (former) Minister for Justice Pádraig Flynn.