Hayes pledges support in global tax-evasion fight
JUNIOR Finance Minister Brian Hayes has said Ireland will provide all information needed in the fight against global tax fraud and evasion, as European finance ministers discuss the issue in Lithuania.
Ireland may face some awkward questions at today's meeting in the wake of Europe's probe into whether 'sweetheart' deals are being offered to businesses operating here.
Finance ministers from across the European Union have gathered for their monthly two-day meeting in Vilnius as part of Lithuania's presidency of the EU, with tax evasion and avoidance on the agenda for today.
Mr Hayes, who is deputising for Finance Minister Michael Noonan at the meeting, said Ireland was fully committed to the automatic exchange of information on the issue.
"During the Irish presidency, we prioritised and made substantial progress on files that dealt with tax fraud and evasion and we look forward to this work continuing under the Lithuanian presidency," he said.
The European Commission has begun an investigation into allegations that Ireland offered special tax deals to US multi-nationals.
The probe is looking at tax deals offered by Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and follows massive controversy in the United States, Britain, Germany and France about the low taxes charged on US companies with operations in Ireland.
Revenue is also going to provide details of how multi-national companies' tax bills are calculated, although it will not be made public.
Meanwhile, with about a month to go until the Budget, Mr Hayes has said "virtually all ministers" want to beat the deficit target as laid down by the troika this year.
He and Mr Noonan wanted to see the shortfall in government spending in 2014 narrow to between 4.7pc and 4.9pc, he said. The troika has laid down a target of 5.1pc.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore wants to scale back the planned €3.1bn of cuts and tax hikes, claiming the Government would still reach the 5.1pc target.
"It's the Minister of Finance's view, and my view, that we have to continue to make a really good target for the end of 2014, less than the 5.1pc."