US bosses: tax regime here no 'get-rich-quick' scheme
Almost one in three managers at US multinationals here was not satisfied with the Government's response to the controversy over taxation for global businesses, according to research from the American Chamber of Commerce.
The organisation's president said international criticism of Ireland's tax regime was "unfair" and announced that US firms were currently recruiting for 1,400 job vacancies here.
"Ireland is not some kind of 'get-rich-quick' scheme for Americans," said Peter Keegan, head of Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Ireland and president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland.
He said US senator Carl Levin's allegation that Ireland was a tax haven "involved an element of political grandstanding".
The debate over Ireland's taxation policies exploded after a US Senate Committee had found that computer giant Apple paid little or no tax on much of its worldwide income – in part thanks to its use of Irish-registered companies.
Mr Keegan was speaking at the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland's annual Fourth of July lunch. The event was attended by over 400 senior managers, including the heads of many of Ireland's largest companies, such as Microsoft, Intel and PayPal.
It was used to launch the results of Chamber's Annual Workforce Activation Study. The survey found that US firms here are actively seeking to fill 1,400 jobs at present. Three-quarters of firms that responded to the survey have job openings, particularly in ICT and finance.
There are 115,000 people directly employed in more than 700 US firms in Ireland.
However, more than half of the US companies surveyed said their expansion in Ireland would be impacted by an increase in personal taxation.
Peter Keegan said Ireland was now a high-tax economy when it comes to income taxes.
"Ireland has reached a tipping point and is now a high personal-tax jurisdiction. This can affect investment decisions and indeed cause our best-qualified people to look abroad for opportunities," he said.
"If we want to retain and attract talent, we have to be aware of this effect."
Taxation was among the talking points at yesterday's event, with 30pc of respondents to the annual survey not satisfied by the Government's response to the latest controversy over corporation tax.
Mr Keegan said that Ireland met none of the definitions of a tax haven.
"Lots of other countries have signed double-tax treaties with Ireland; they don't do that with tax havens," he said.
"In the corporate boardroom, there is an understanding that Ireland operates a transparent and robust tax regime," he said.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, he denied that the Anglo tapes had had an adverse affect on Ireland's international reputation.
"Americans see (the tapes) as a domestic Irish situation," he said. "Corporate America understands that it doesn't change what we have to offer here."