Friday 9 December 2016

The inversion deals that skew our GDP

Published 13/07/2016 | 02:30

So-called corporate inversions have traditionally been big American pharmaceutical companies, keen to escape the high tax rates in the United States. Stock Image
So-called corporate inversions have traditionally been big American pharmaceutical companies, keen to escape the high tax rates in the United States. Stock Image

One of the elements that helped boost Ireland's GDP last year are so-called corporate inversions, in which US companies re-register overseas in order to avoid hefty tax bills.

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The colossal 26.3pc GDP rate was in part driven by these deals, which essentially involve large foreign companies reinventing themselves as being Irish to avail of our low corporate tax rate, while keeping their core operations in their original jurisdiction.

They have traditionally been big American pharmaceutical companies, keen to escape the high tax rates in the United States.

In an inversion, the American company typically buys a smaller foreign rival and relocates, at least on paper, to the rival's home country so that the new combined company is not based in the US.

The US Government has clamped down on these deals by introducing new rules.

That scuppered the planned $160bn merger of drugs giants Pfizer and Allergan, which would have created Ireland's biggest company by shifting Pfizer's global tax base to Ireland.

But there had been other successful deals before that.

Other companies that have inverted, mostly through acquisitions, are Perrigo and Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

So Ireland has been a favourite location for this type of activity in recent years. But the problem is that it artificially inflates the size of our economy, which is what we have seen in the data produced yesterday.

To be fair to the Government here, it has openly stated it is not in the business of courting inversion deals.

It casts yet another negative shadow on Ireland's corporate tax offering, and that's something the Government is keen to shake off.

Unfortunately for us, the latest GDP figures make that difficult.

Irish Independent

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