A tough Revenue crackdown on fuel smuggling and laundering is now underway. This month sees the introduction of a new fuel movements e-reporting system for all petrol, diesel and oil traders.
All fuel warehouse operators, distributors and forecourt retailers must now file online, a monthly Monthly Return of Oil Movements (ROM1) showing, for each fuel product type:
- Opening fuel stock balance.
- Closing fuel stock balance.
- Date, quantity, invoice, supplier details for each fuel stock movement inwards.
- Similar details for each fuel stock movement outwards.
- Aggregate details for forecourt fuel sales.
- Aggregate details of sales to domestic customers and smaller commercial customers who receive less than 2,000 litres per month.
The requirement for traders to report each individual movement of fuel is intended to make it much harder for illegal fuel smugglers and launderers to market their product through legitimate fuel retailers.
It will now be very easy for Revenue to match the dispatch of each fuel consignment from a wholesaler or warehouse to its receipt by forecourt retailers and end users. Tax officials will also be ready to pounce if and when they notice unrecorded fuel movements along the public roads and where unexplained gaps or anomalies within traders’ returns indicate a risk of illicit behaviour.
I expect that it is also an indicator of Revenue’s likely strategy to combat tax evasion and other business criminality in the future. With a vast, and ever-expanding, range of Big Brother-style technology at their disposal, it is now easier than ever before for Revenue to monitor and detect all illicit business activity – and it’s only a matter of time before the criminals and dodgers have nowhere left to hide.