Cantillon: Noonan unlikely to take big bite out of Apple

Finance Bill not expected to prompt jump in Irish corporation tax receipts

The Apple subsidiary in Cork differed from its fellow tech giants in that it apparently was able to book non-US profits here while being managed and controlled from the US

The Apple subsidiary in Cork differed from its fellow tech giants in that it apparently was able to book non-US profits here while being managed and controlled from the US

Thu, Oct 17, 2013, 01:01

We will have to wait until next week’s Finance Bill to see the detail concerning the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan’s pledge to get rid of Irish-registered companies that are “stateless” for tax residency purposes. However, it is unlikely any measure that emerges will see a jump in Irish corporation tax receipts, or indeed those of the USA.

While many of the behemoths of the technological age have operations here that are their key presence outside the Americas, getting rid of the scenario that allowed Cork-based Apple subsidiary Apple Sales International to remain stateless for the purposes of tax calculations is unlikely to affect the Irish subsidiaries of Google, Facebook, Microsoft and so on.

The Apple subsidiary differed from its fellow tech giants in that it apparently was able to book non-US profits here while being managed and controlled from the US. The US didn’t tax it because it was an Irish company, and Ireland didn’t tax it because it was managed and controlled from outside Ireland, (making it non-resident for Irish tax purposes).

The US could presumably have changed its rules so that companies such as Apple Sales International – non-US companies managed from the US and ultimately owned by a US parent – would become resident in the US for tax purposes. Instead, however, the politicians in Washington pointed the finger at Ireland, prompting the budget promise by Noonan.

If, as Barry O’Leary of IDA Ireland has suggested, the trend in the international taxation regime debate is towards an increased alignment between taxation and substance, that can only be good for Ireland’s corporation tax receipts. If the US, or the global community, manages to close down the sort of practice that channels profits onwards towards tax havens, the Irish exchequer could turn out to be the major winner.

Instead of the profits going to Irish-registered holding companies that were tax resident in Bermuda or wherever, the profits could become taxable here. At 12.5 per cent.

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