Q: I have been working at my employer for a few years, and recently got promoted to a position where I see the company accounts on a month-to month basis. What I’ve seen has me very concerned.
I’m not an expert, but it appears that there is income coming in to the company that is not reported – in the most recently-filed accounts, I’ve identified several discrepancies. Now, I’m worried that my employer is engaging in tax evasion, and quite stumped as to what I do next.
Do I have a legal obligation to report this matter? Could I face prosecution if, having failed to report the issue, it subsequently comes to light? What should my next move be?
A: You’re right to be anxious, and to seek advice – the wrong move at this point could be damaging for you. To answer your first question, the legal obligations on reporting evasion fall largely on accountants and tax advisers. If you’re not in this role at your employer, then the situation is a little less clear, and any prosecution for sitting on your hands is less likely.
However, if you are a Director in the business, you could face restriction from acting as a Director in another firm if this comes to light and the company collapses – quite apart from the impact on your career and reputation. That’s even before you consider the moral imperative not to let tax evasion stand unchallenged.
There is one caveat, however: as you say, you’re not an expert, and this could be a simple misunderstanding on your part. Is there a person in the organisation who you trust, who also has access to the accounts and a level of expertise to understand them? If you can, ask them if everything is kosher. This may call for some subtlety, and there is a risk of your employer lashing out against you – for that reason, be careful not to share information with anyone who shouldn’t officially have access to it, as that could form a pretext for disciplinary action or dismissal. If your employer does look to get rid of you, having evidence that you dealt with the perceived problem internally and through proper channels will be important.
If you are not getting satisfactory answers – or if your employer goes on the defensive, then you can of course report the matter to Revenue. You can find contact details here for the Investigations and Prosecutions Division to pass on your concerns.