Anne Cordelia Shirley wrote:There's been a pretty consistent stream of calls to punish white collar crime since the recession kicked off. There's an endless ream of "Why haven't the bankers gone to jail". This is white collar crime. The man was convicted of tax evasion. It's not a victimless crime, its a serious offence. I don't think its fair to compare and contrast it with rape or murder-they are horrific offences and whether they are sentenced too lightly in ireland is a totally separate argument for a different thread.
The man made a conscious decision to avoid paying tax to the state over a period of time. He knew he should have been paying tax at a higher rate and decided to commit tax evasion in a calculated and consistent manner. This is white collar crime. The state suffers for it. I read he owed the state 1.6 million euro. How many SNAs/nurses/health equipment would that pay for? And he's only one case, with one specific offence. I really don't understand how people can call for white collar crime to be prosecuted more strictly and attract custodial sentences, then to say its too harsh when someone is convicted of it.
If you're in business, you can decide to play by the rules and pay your taxes or decide that, for whatever reason, a tax on something you import is too high and decide to evade paying the state what you owe. If he felt the tax on garlic was too high, he should have either lobbied for a change in the law, imported it from somewhere else, or decided not to import it at all. You don't get to pick and chose which tax laws you comply with. We either want to prosecute white collar crime and impose the relevant custodial sentences or we don't.
+1 - while I think 6 years is far too short a sentence for repeated rape of a child, that doesn't mean it's too long for a serious theft, which is what defrauding the revenue of €1.6 million is. According to a letter in the Times this morning, there was a decision recently to impose tougher custodial sentences on tax evaders to deter other would-be white collar criminals.
I've no doubt this sentence will be reduced on appeal, but it should still act as a major wake-up call for other business-people who think they can pick and choose which taxes they want to pay.