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The Word on the Week

Justifying Himself.

We had a good example of something we all do from a member of our parliament this week. He had fiddled his tax and confessed before it became public. Except it wasn’t his tax, he himself was tax compliant, but his limited liability company (of which he is the sole director and CEO) that had the problem.

It really wasn’t done to defraud the Revenue, he always intended to pay the VAT back, but was a temporary arrangement to keep his 60 builders at work. It was the banks who wanted him to stop work on an apartment block before it was finished.

As he had taken deposits from the future owners he used the money to finished the building but the bank then took the money he obtained as sales were completed leaving nothing to pay the tax-man’s €1.4 million bill. As the recession bit deeper the last 10 apartments didn’t sell so there was nothing left in the kitty.

Then there were the sub-contractors and the problems over the workers pension contributions to be taken into account. To cap it all another of his banks got a €19.4 million judgement against him which prevented him (mercifully) from getting any more work.

However on the plus side he was elected to the Dail last year and was a substantial benefactor of Wexford Youths Football Club.

Paying tax has always been looked upon as an irksome chore. “Pay As You Earn” was invented to make the employer extract the money at source and avoid the hassle of dealing with taxpayers direct. For the self employed the tax return becomes a battleground for the conscience which is often defeated! Witness the reluctance in paying the recently imposed household charge.

Interestingly our builder/member of the Dail asked the rhetorical question, “Who’s fit to be a public representative? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. I tried to be as honest as I could”.

While it is always good to hear Scripture being quoted the context in which the words were said needs to be taken into account. They were uttered by Jesus to the men who were accusing the woman who they had caught in the act of adultery.

When spoken by the builder it is as if they were said by the sinful woman as she tried to justify herself!

In reality, saying sorry is often ambiguous. He was sorry apartments were not sold; sorry he was found out before the Revenue could be repaid etc.

Repentance, on the other hand, as shown in the Bible by that other tax cheat, Zacchaeus was followed by action in repaying those he had wronged four times over (St Luke Chapter 19 verses 8/10). Jesus recognised the faith that prompted the action and proclaimed that salvation had come to Zacchaeus that day.

Being found out is painful but can be the best thing that ever happened to you if it leads to repentance and faith in Jesus the only one who can justify a sinner.