The Revenue Commissioners have said the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is being used by some people for “essentially robbery”.
As reported in the Irish Examiner, Revenue chairman Niall Cody said the cases of fraud he has seen are “not like normal tax evasion”.
During his address to the public accounts committee, Mr Cody said the current EWSS is vulnerable to criminality because employers and employees from newly-founded companies may apply.
“We are very concerned,” he said.
“I would distinguish fraudulent cases from businesses who would have thought they’d be eligible.
“But fraudulent criminal cases, small number though they are, are essentially robbery, rather than the tax evasion we are used to.”
This comes as the EWSS has been a source of contention over the last week after payment rates dropped by €50 per week on December 1st.
There have been calls from the hospitality sector to reinstate the November rate of pay due to the ongoing difficulties the sector has with Covid-19 restrictions.
The EWSS, which is due to cease in April, cost an estimated €321.4 million in November with payments made to 23,600 employers and 275,000 employees.
According to a Revenue spokesperson, all instances of EWSS fraud stem from “fake businesses claiming in respect of payment of wages to fake employees”.
This week, the president of the Irish Hotels Federation, Elaina Fitzgerald-Kane, called for EWSS to be retained at November levels.
According to Ms Fitzgerald-Kane, across the hotel and guest house sector since the end of November, and looking forward to January 10th - €92 million in cancellations has been recorded.
However, the Tánaiste told the Dáil on Thursday that the Government was waiting on the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) before making any decision on reviving financial support for struggling sectors.