independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Obama forced to retract allegation that Ireland is a 'tax haven'

President Barack Obama.

THE Government has forced US President Barack Obama to dramatically withdraw his allegation that Ireland is a "tax haven".

Mr Obama described Ireland as a "tax haven" while attacking the personal investments of his election opponent Mitt Romney.

Mr Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, will meet with Taoiseach Enda Kenny for the first time today when both are in London for the Olympics.

The meeting comes just weeks after Mr Obama's campaign listed Ireland, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Switzerland, and Luxembourg on a graphic entitled: "Has Mitt Romney avoided US taxes by investing millions in tax havens?"

But the attack on Mr Romney has been changed to now say Ireland is a "low-tax country" under the extended heading: "Has Mitt Romney avoided US taxes by investing millions in tax havens and other low-tax countries?"

The u-turn came after contacts from the Irish Embassy in Washington objecting to the allegation.

Irish Ambassador Michael Collins spoke directly with officials from the Obama campaign.

The US president's campaign said a financial trust linked to Mr Romney had an unknown amount of money funds and accounts in Ireland.

"Ann D Romney Blind Trust held an interest in Goldman Sachs Liquid Reserves Fund and others," the campaign said.

The Obama campaign said the value of the investment was "not disclosed in tax returns".

A note on the graphic also seems to refer to Ireland saying: "Statutory corporate tax rate in 2010. Actual tax rate paid may be substantially lower due to tax deductions, credits, and other methods of reducing tax liability."

And there is also a note saying the countries listed as tax havens come from a 2010 Congressional Research Service report.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny will meet with Mr Romney this afternoon at the Irish Embassy in London.

The pair will have a general discussion for about 40 minutes on US-Ireland relations, including economic ties between the two countries.

Mr Kenny will also give Mr Romney an update on the cementing of the peace process.

The request for a meeting came from Mr Romney's side.

Key

Aside from visiting London for the Olympics and meetings with the British government, Mr Romney will also be in Poland and Israel.

The Republican candidate's foreign trip appears to be geared towards shoring up a key voting bloc.

Mr Kenny will also attend a reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace for heads of state and government.

This morning, he will meet with members of the Irish Olympic team at their base in Twickenham before attending the opening ceremony.

Irish Independent

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