Thursday 8 December 2016

Ireland is not a tax haven, insists O'Malley

Published 01/09/2016 | 02:30

Kevin O'Malley, American Ambassador to Ireland. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Kevin O'Malley, American Ambassador to Ireland. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Ireland is not a tax haven and US companies are here for much more than a 12.5pc corporation tax rate, the American ambassador has said.

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Kevin O'Malley put forward a robust defence of the relationships between Ireland and US multinationals in the wake of the Apple decision, saying: "Taxation is a philosophical exercise. It is nothing to do with mathematics."

In unprecedented remarks for a US envoy to Ireland, Mr O'Malley told an audience in Dublin yesterday that analysts "throwing around terms like tax cheat and tax haven" are "irresponsible".

"A country that produces one half of all of the ventilators used in hospitals across the world to promote health doesn't sound like a tax haven to me," he said.

Mr O'Malley's comments are significant because much of the momentum for the European Commissions' probe in Apple's tax arrangements came from the US senate. In 2013, former Republican presidential candidate John McCain and leading Democrat Carl Levin labelled Ireland a tax haven for multinational companies during a hearing in Washington.

Apple was accused of sheltering profits in Irish "ghost companies", which is similar to what was claimed by Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

The senators said "special tax arrangements that allow companies to pay little or no income tax meets a common-sense definition of a tax haven".

However, at an event for alumni of Boston College, Mr O'Malley rejected the idea, saying that deciding what to tax and where to tax it was not simple.

He acknowledged that the 12.5pc tax rate is important but said the "real reason United States businesses have done so well in Ireland is that simply we get each other".

Irish Independent

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