Warning over foreign multinationals paying 80pc of corporate tax
About 80pc of corporation tax paid in Ireland is from foreign multinationals, leaving the State exposed to shocks, the Department of Finance has said.
A handful of companies pay most of the tax.
Launching a public consultation on the corporate tax code, the Department said the amount of corporation tax collected from businesses jumped 60pc between 2014 and 2016.
The Government announced in September that it would arrange a review of Ireland's corporate tax code by an independent expert.
University College Cork economist Seamus Coffey was appointed to the role.
"Irish corporation tax receipts are highly concentrated, with 0.2pc of corporation tax cases contributing 65.3pc in net receipts," the Department said, in a document accompanying the consultation note.
"The reliance on foreign-owned MNE exporters contributes to the volatility and unpredictability of corporation tax receipts, as receipts are exposed to idiosyncratic shocks such as the 'patent cliff', and changes in the structure and strategies of MNE groups."
The document noted that in 2014, the corporation tax yield was €4.6bn, representing the fifth-largest contributor to the Exchequer.
In 2015, the corporation tax yield rose by 49pc to €6.87bn, moving to the fourth-largest contributor.
Last year, it increased to €7.35bn.
"This increase in corporation tax receipts has raised questions regarding the sustainability of corporation tax receipts, and as to whether the increase in 2015 and 2016 represents a step change or series of once-offs," the Department said.
The consultation document states that the review should look at achieving the highest international standards in tax transparency, ensuring that the corporation tax code does not provide preferential treatment to any taxpayer, deliver tax certainty for business and maintain the 12.5pc rate.
The consultation period will run to April 4.
The review was announced in the wake of the EU's €13bn Apple tax decision, and the Government's announcement of an appeal to the European Commission.
The surge in corporation tax receipts in 2015 sparked concerns about whether the jump in tax receipts was sustainable.
At the time, the Revenue Commissioners attributed the increased amount being paid to improved trading conditions, associated with increased sales of internationally traded products.
The then head of the State's budgetary watchdog, Professor John McHale, urged caution.
He warned that the highly concentrated nature of corporation tax receipts on its own raises risks to the Exchequer.