California would be an 'independent state if it had Ireland's tax regime'

California Governor Jerry Brown questions Ireland's tax regime as Enda Kenny looks on

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore with the Governor of California Jerry Brown at an event in Dublin last year

Niall O'Connor

CALIFORNIA would become an "independent country" if it had the same tax regime as Ireland, according to its governor.

Jerry Brown today made several jibes about Ireland's tax regime just moments after Taoiseach Enda Kenny heralded the relationship between Ireland and the United States.

Mr Brown used a speech at an Enterprise Ireland event in San Francisco to question the generous conditions provided to multi national firms who invest in Ireland.

The senior US politician claimed that California would become "an independent country" if it had Ireland's tax rate in place.

And he said that companies such as Apple are an "Irish company" that benefit from what he described as "creative accounting".

"I don't know how you got to have Apple to have so much of their business in Ireland, we thought they were a Californian company, when you look at their tax returns they're really an Irish's called creative accounting," Gov Brown said.

His comments were made at an Enterprise Ireland event held to assist Irish start-up firms seeking to break into the US market.

The event was attended by Mr Kenny, Irish ambassador to the US, Anne Anderson, several IDA officials including Chief Executive Barry O'Leary and dozens of Irish business people.

While the speech was made in a jovial manner, Gov Brown made numerous references to our tax regime.

"If we could have Ireland's tax rate, we'd be very wealthy, we'd become an independent country," Gov Brown said.

"By the way Forbes magazine never said we're the top State, they don't like our taxes and regulations, you've got that one on us.

"We're great and Forbes doesn't give us any credit, so you must be super great,"he added after Mr Kenny pointed out that the publication found that Ireland is the best place in the world to do business.

The remarks come as the European Commission is poised to launch a formal probe into allegations that the Revenue Commissioners have offered special deals to multi-national companies.

The probe, which may begin as early as Wednesday, could result in businesses being asked to repay money.

Asked about the matter during his visit to Silicon Valley, Mr Kenny said:

"Clearly when the Commission decide to make a statement on the matter, Ireland will react to it.

"We believe our legislation is robust, that the application that legislation is ethical and obviously we will be prepared to defend that very strongly in the event of any further statement or requirement from the European Commission."

In his own speech at the Enterprise Ireland event on Saturday, Mr Kenny spoke about his aims for Ireland to become "the greatest small nation on Earth".

He added that Dublin is "becoming a magnetic attraction for young people from all over the world".

He said these young people are "changing the frontiers up ahead".

"We intend to continuously move up the competitiveness league and demonstrate that our young people, those flowering minds of ingenuity, creativity, inspiration, ability, will not let you down," he added.