Government denies fresh reports that Apple got special deal on its tax rate
Bruton says tax code did have 'different phases' in past
THE Government has reiterated that it believes there were absolutely no deals for multinationals to set up here.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook and a United States senate report said last week that Ireland had given Apple a special deal on tax.
The Taoiseach Enda Kenny and other ministers have repeatedly denied there was such a deal, but weekend reports said that Apple had received a special deal to set up here in 1980 and another deal was put in place after that agreement expired a decade later.
That has led to concerns that ministers were speaking without knowing the full facts. Speaking yesterday, however, Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton denied this was the case.
"There were no special deals ever in the Irish tax code but there were different phases," he said.
"There was a period when every sector exporting didn't pay tax on their profits, there was then a period when manufacturing companies had a 10pc rate and every other sector didn't.
"So there were phases when there were different sectoral approaches but always statute-based, and there were no special deals," he told reporters in Dublin.
Mr Bruton went on to deny newspaper reports which said the Government was planning to amend its tax laws to close the loophole known as the "Double Irish".
That quirk allows companies like Google and others to funnel billions of euro in profits through Ireland and on to a tax haven such as Bermuda where they can legally avoid paying billions in corporation tax.
"Ireland does not facilitate tax evasion or anything like that. We have a very clear tax code. We apply it rigorously, there are no side deals and everyone knows what applies," Mr Bruton said.
"Now, there are companies who arbitrage between the tax codes in different countries and create opportunities for aggressive tax planning. Ireland is supporting initiatives to deal with aggressive tax planning through institutions like the OECD.
"When I go in to a company boardroom to seek their investment in Ireland I know there are countries coming in behind me, coming in with alternative offers for special deals, but we don't do that, we offer a clear and transparent approach," he added.
"We make no apologies for being a low-tax regime – we've always believed a low core tax rate is part of the good business environment we use to attract foreign investment and we are very good at that," he added.
Mr Bruton's comments came as the chairman of Google said he was "perplexed" at the criticism of his company for legally avoiding millions of euro worth of tax in the UK.
"What we are doing is legal. I'm rather perplexed by this debate, which has been going in the UK for quite some time because I view taxes as not optional," Eric Schmidt said.
"If the British system changes the tax laws then we will comply. If the taxes go up we will pay more, if they go down we will pay less. That is a political decision for the democracy that is the United Kingdom," he added.