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Ireland cannot be part of current global tax reform proposals, Donohoe says

Minister says he is committed to finding an agreement on corporation tax reform

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe: he believes there is an understanding of the Irish position because smaller economies need lower rates to be more competitive. Photograph: Valeria Mongelli/Bloomberg

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said that Ireland cannot be part of an international agreement on a minimum global tax rate of 15 per cent.

“What is on the table is an agreement that we cannot be part of,” he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

However, Mr Donohoe said he was committed to seeing if an agreement could be reached at some stage, just not now.

“We are committed to the negotiation to see if we can enter the agreement at some point, but I’m making the case for our 12.5 per cent. It has been a key feature of our economic policy for decades, and I’m so committed to it that I decided we couldn’t enter into the agreement.”

Earlier this month, the G7 and OECD countries reached agreement but not unanimous consensus on the key aspects of a global tax deal which seeks to introduce a minimum rate of 15 per cent. Ireland is among a handful of countries, including Hungary, who are opposed to a 15 per cent rate.

Mr Donohoe said a key feature of the agreement was what was best for each jurisdiction. That would be examined in detail, and he said he would launch a public consultation to bring the details to the business community and stakeholders.

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In response to a comment by the former chairman of the Fiscal Advisory Council, Prof John McHale, who said the risk of reputational damage to Ireland was “just not worth it”, the Minister said that the time for evaluating the impact on Ireland’s reputation would be when the process had concluded.

Mr Donohoe said that Ireland had made “huge changes” to the tax code – including the elimination of the so-called “double Irish” and the issue of stateless companies.

If Ireland had entered the agreement, “it would be an issue for people who have invested in our country”, he said.

It was important not to rule anything out, which was why he would continue negotiations, he said. If there was anything in the international agreement that would be in Ireland’s interest, he would recommend it.

Smaller economies

He said smaller economies needed lower rates to be more competitive, and he believed there was understanding about Ireland’s position.

The country’s corporate tax regime had been under scrutiny before and that continued to be the case.

“I will pursue what is in our best interest.”

Earlier this week, Mr Donohoe had indicated that Irish support could be possible for the global tax move after he met with United States treasury secretary Janet Yellen, who was visiting Brussels to pressure holdout European Union member states to back the minimum corporation tax rate and co-ordinate on how to seal the deal along a timetable set for October.

“Ireland will continue to engage in the negotiation and the process within the OECD, all the way up to October,” Mr Donohoe said.

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