Sunday 4 December 2016

Taking the tax could help, not harm, foreign investment

International revenue agencies are already cracking down on multi-national tax avoidance, writes Stephen Donnelly, and Ireland must also play its part

Published 04/09/2016 | 02:30

President Obama's spokesman Josh Earnest Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President Obama's spokesman Josh Earnest Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

For many companies across Ireland, Friday's decision to appeal the Apple ruling must be intolerable. Irish companies typically pay 30pc tax on their profits, between corporation tax and withholding tax. Apple paid taxes on the profits it generated in Ireland, but the Commission found that on its European profits it paid just 0.005pc in 2014. Irish tax laws played a key role in this, and the most profitable company on earth had rulings from the Irish State confirming that what it was doing was entirely in compliance with our laws.

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Why would Ireland knowingly facilitate tax-avoidance on this scale? And why would Ireland's Government, with the country still reeling from the economic crash, go to court to try and turn away the billions of euro Apple is being told by the EU Commission it must pay?

On the day of the ruling, Minister Noonan provided RTE's Brian Dobson with four reasons, and these have remained the Government's line all week. At least three of the four appear spurious. The first is that officials from Revenue had done nothing illegal, and that the Government would stand by its officials. I note that Revenue officials don't write tax law, they implement it. If it does turn out via the appeal that Irish tax law really did fall foul of European competition and more particularly state-aid law, then that's on our legislators and Attorneys General, not the officials from Revenue.

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