During the 1998-1999 tax year the Revenue estimated it had carried out 725,000 investigations, and said that figure would be increased for the 1999-00 tax year.
However Revenue officials said the total figure was made up of two different categories, 'aspect enquiries', investigations into a single aspect of a return and 'full enquiries' which questions the validity of the return as a whole.As a result, it said it would not be looking to recruit any staff and denied it would be extending its budget to cope with the increases.
A spokesman said: 'Approximately 600,000 of the investigations will be aspect enquiries which are very quick and simple to deal with.'They can be as easy as simply writing to people asking them to prove an issue on their return.
'We have no immediate plans to increase the numbers which represent under 10% of the returns we receive each year.' The Revenue also plans to increase the number of full enquiries that it carries out from 100,000 each year to 150,000.
Andrew Shaw, tax partner at Kingston Smith, warned: 'The IR has a quota of self-assessment investigations to complete, whether they are necessary or not, with many of them undertaken on a random basis. With such an ambitious target being set we are likely to hear increasing concern voiced over the IR pursuing investigations just to reach their target.'
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