Ireland has been urged to keep an open mind on new plans for a common EU corporate tax base.
The plans are expected to be unveiled as early as next month and will be discussed by the European Commission today, Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said yesterday.
The so-called Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) proposal was heavily debated a number of years ago and was intended to provide a single set of rules that companies operating within the EU could use to calculate their taxable profits. Ireland was not in favour of the plans. In March, Taoiseach Enda Kenny reiterated that position.
Mr Moscovici suggested Ireland's concerns have been taken into account in the crafting of the "new approach" to the CCCTB proposal.
"It is no secret to me that CCCTB is not Ireland's favourite proposal," Mr Moscovici said. "But I would urge Ireland to keep an open mind. We have listened carefully to member states' expectations on the concerns of CCCTB and on corporate tax in general, and I want to make sure that our new approach will reflect this."
Mr Moscovici said the action plan is being finalised. The Commissioner's comments came as German newspaper 'Handelsblatt' reported that Europe was considering imposing a minimum tax rate on companies across the EU. It said the plan was favoured by Germany and France, but opposed by smaller states, including Ireland and Luxembourg. However, both the Department of Finance and the European Commission dismissed the story as incorrect.
"Individual member states retain the right to set their own corporation tax rates and that is the position," a Department spokesman said. "That position won't change."
A spokesman for Mr Moscovici added: "We'll be putting forward an action plan looking at CCCTB and how to take that forward, but it's still around the concept of a common corporate tax base. We're not looking at the harmonisation of rates."
Mr Moscovici said taxation issues are to be "mostly" addressed at national level.
"It is a matter of sovereignty. But at the same time there is a taxation policy in the EU which is to fix some common rules, some common principles," he said.
Earlier this year the European Commission promised an "ambitious agenda to combat tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning".
Meanwhile, Mr Moscovici, who was in Dublin for a number of engagements, told a conference hosted by the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) that Ireland's recovery shouldn't lead to complacency as risks from debt remain. He said it would be premature to declare "mission accomplished".
And he signalled the Government should remain prudent and cautious.
"It would be wrong and risky to ignore the legacies of the crisis, notably the high private and public debt."