Monday 21 October 2019

Our tax regime must be robustly defended

NEWS that the Government plans to rebut Apple's claims about a sweetheart tax deal is very welcome. Pedants know that the word 'rebut' means something completely different from words such as 'contradict' or 'deny'. Anybody can contradict or deny something but a rebuttal requires conclusive evidence.

The reality is that Apple is one of the most trusted brands in the world and many people will automatically assume that it is telling the truth unless the Government's rebuttal is both detailed and robust. Enda Kenny has denied Apple's version of events this week but he must now prove that he is telling the truth and show the world that Apple has misled the US Senate.

The Government is right to take the latest damaging testimony seriously. There is no doubt that Ireland's reputation is taking a bashing just as the country is looking to stand on its own feet again following the bailout.

It is important for Mr Kenny and others to acknowledge that there are legitimate questions about a taxation system that allows multinationals such as Apple to pay tax at 2pc on vast profits. To pretend otherwise is futile.

While questions need to be asked, it is vital for the Government to do all it can to ensure that the present system remains in place until we can agree something else. Other countries also use low tax and other incentives to lure companies to their shores.

Those countries in Europe which object to the way we do business need to look in the mirror first and then remind themselves that Europe competes with Israel, Singapore and many other countries thousands of kilometres away for business. It is better to have multinationals in Europe than to drive them to the other side of the globe.

There may well be some scope for reform of the global taxation system, but it is vital that our national self-interest is not sacrificed on the altar of other countries' self-interest and self-righteousness.

Irish Independent

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