Taoiseach defends taxation regime
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has brushed off attacks on Ireland's tax regime for helping multinationals avoid billions in tax - insisting he was backing plans for global tax transparency and an end to tax havens.
Ireland's low corporate tax rates have been identified in inquiries into how companies such as Google and Apple arrange their tax affairs to reduce liabilities to a minimum.
But, heading into EU summit talks in Brussels on cracking down on corporate tax avoidance and tax evasion, Mr Kenny insisted: "I'd like to repeat that Ireland's corporation tax rate is statute-based, is very clear, very transparent - we do not do special deals with individual companies in relation to that rate."
The Taoiseach said Ireland was one of the first countries to agree a scheme on sharing of tax information with the United States.
He said:"Multinationals, in their aggressive tax planning, operate in many jurisdictions. For that reason, Ireland has been very much to the forefront in having and building more international consensus as far as transparency in tax regimes is concerned."
UK prime minister David Cameron, who has put the issue top of the agenda for a G8 summit he will host in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, next month, also vowed to make the fight against tax evasion a global campaign.
He said: "This is an important meeting because I believe in low taxes for businesses, because we want to encourage investment, we want to encourage jobs. I want Britain to be a winner in the global race. We've got to be sure as we set those taxes that companies pay taxes and that means international collaboration, sharing of tax information."
EU tax commissioner Algirdas Semeta said all EU member states should sign up for a fully automatic tax information exchange system - something being pushed by the US and already backed by member states including the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
The commission is anxious to avoid EU countries setting up their own, separate, system rather than adopt the emerging international blueprint for tightening controls on large-scale tax avoidance schemes, estimated to cost the European Union one trillion euro a year.
"Of course, we have some member states which are still reluctant, but the summit isn't the place where the high-level decisions should be made," said Mr Semeta.