Wednesday 16 October 2019

Enda has to take the heat as spotlight falls on Apple profits

Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny drew a surprisingly large crowd to his post-EU summit briefing.

Ireland holds the EU Presidency, but the international media present weren't interested in the progress on negotiating the EU €1 trillion budget.

Ireland's relationship with multinationals, in the wake of a US Senate committee branding the country a "tax haven" and Apple saying there was a special tax deal, was the only item on their minds.

Coming at the same time as an EU summit on tax fraud meant Ireland was under the spotlight. But this was mere coincidence, rather than by design.

Mr Kenny is well rehearsed in responding to the controversy swirling around Ireland's tax arrangement at this stage.

He even took the opportunity to hit back at Apple CEO Timothy Cook's claim his company had a special deal from Ireland.

"I am telling you, Ireland does not do special deals or side-deals with any company with regard to our corporation tax rate," he insisted.

But the Government's problem is that the slur of "tax haven" has now been branded on Ireland.

Putting the genie back in the bottle won't be easy. The Irish case was topical this week, but the Government's overall timing is probably more fortunate.

Ireland is not alone in not wanting EU interference in domestic tax affairs.

European Commission proposals on bringing in a common tax base are nowhere near fruition.

However, EU leaders openly discussing tax matters and cooperation is no longer taboo.

The Government doesn't have to worry about any immediate clampdown – but will need to watch its back in the longer run.

Irish Independent

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