Sunday 23 October 2016

Ireland shouldn't be a home to tax avoidance, says Vestager

Published 10/09/2016 | 02:30

Europe’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. Photo: Reuters
Europe’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. Photo: Reuters

Ireland is a good place to do business and should not be a location for tax avoidance, Europe's Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has said.

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Ms Vestager said Ireland had an attractive corporate tax rate, which was not under threat. It has access to the single market and a highly skilled workforce.

But she said tax rulings were offered to companies that existed solely on paper, with no employees, premises or activities.

"Ireland has a very attractive corporate tax rate, and it's not up to me or anyone in the Commission to question that," Ms Vestager told France 24.

"Because Ireland is completely in their good right to say our corporate tax is going to be 12.5pc. It is very attractive. You're in the single market, you have highly skilled employees … it's a very good place to do business.

"It shouldn't be the place to do tax avoidance."

Ireland made global headlines last week after the ­European Commission ruled that Apple owed up to €13bn in back taxes to the State in a ruling handed down by Ms Vestager.

The ruling by the Brussels competition watchdog - described by Finance Minister Michael Noonan as bizarre and outrageous - found Ireland gave Apple a sweetheart deal which ultimately allowed the iPhone maker to pay as little as 0.005pc tax on its European and some international profits.

The tech giant's chief executive Tim Cook branded the numbers set out in Ms Vestager's ruling as untrue and maddening.

Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe recorded profits of sales made in international locations in Ireland, she said.

"Ireland gave Apple two tax rulings to allow them to book the huge majority of their profits in a head office that only exists on paper.

"It has no employees, no premises, no real activities and that of course makes no economic justification for no employees in no offices making huge amounts of money."

Irish Independent

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