Farmers are by far the most numerous tax offenders, accounting for more than 10% of all convictions, according to a new investigation by RTE.

Using 13 years of official figures from the Revenue Commissioners, the RTÉ Investigations Unit analysed all recorded convictions for certain types of tax offences in the period 2002 to 2014.

Farmers were followed by company directors (4.7%), builders (3.5%), building contractors (3.2%), carpenters (3.1%) and plasterers (2.1%).

RTE notes that these statistics reflect sectors of the economy in which the majority of people file their own tax returns and therefore are more likely to come to the attention of the Revenue Commissioners through tax audits.

As an example, it highlights there are almost no nurses, factory workers or shop assistants on the list because their tax – like most workers – is deducted at source.

Top Ten Occupations

  1. Farmers (10.4%)
  2. Company directors (4.7%)
  3. Builders (3.5%)
  4. Building Contractors (3.2%)
  5. Carpenters (3.1%)
  6. Plasterers (2.1%)
  7. Rental Income (1.9%)
  8. Publican (1.6%)
  9. Painter and decorator (1.3%)
  10. Agricultural Contractor (1.2%)

The RTE investigation also found that farmers came out on top in terms of the amounts of fines issued by the Revenue Commissioners.

Farmers had fines of €1.76 million levied on them, while company directors also paid out in excess of €1.1 million after being found guilty of tax offences.

Fine (Total Amount €)

  1. Farmer – €1,766,191
  2. Company director – €1,128,972
  3. Building contractor – €732,611
  4. Builder – €631,029
  5. Carpenter – €612,049
  6. Rental income – €485,415
  7. Plasterer – €433,520
  8. Painter and Decorator – €294,129
  9. Agricultural contractor – €273,964

The RTE investigation does say that there are also hundreds of people who listed more than one occupation and this does distort the figures somewhat, for example, where somebody is listed as a farmer/builder.

However, it says these types of entries have not been counted for these overall totals.


According to RTE county Roscommon has the highest rate of offenders in the country, when it comes to failing to lodge income tax returns.

Its analysis shows a concentration of offenders in the North West of the country with 1 in every 149 people in Roscommon listed as failing to make tax returns in the period concerned. That rate was ten times the rate recorded in Co Kilkenny. At 1 in every 1,468 the county had the lowest rate of conviction in the country.

According to RTE the number of convictions peaked at 1,061 just before the economic crash in 2007.

It says there was a steady decrease in the number of convictions in almost every year since 2007. Last year, the investigation found that the lowest number of convictions for the 13 year period examined with 570 people receiving convictions.