Government accused of ‘sleepwalking’ through claims about country’s tax code

FF says tax haven comments ‘seriously damaging’ to economy


The Government has been accused of “sleepwalking”through false and destructive claims about the country’s tax code.

Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary described recent claims by a US Senate subcommittee that Ireland was a tax haven as “ seriously damaging” to the economy, and has called for political leadership “to set the record straight”.

“These are highly destructive and completely false claims and I am dismayed by the lack of any meaningful response from the Government,” Mr Calleary said.

He said the benefit of US multinational investment in Ireland could not be overestimated.

“There are approximately 100,000 people directly employed by US multinationals in Ireland with thousands more jobs indirectly supported.”

“If the Government means what it says about jobs being its top priority, why has there been no intervention from the Taoiseach, Tánaiste or jobs minister to set the record straight on Ireland’s corporation tax,” Mr Calleary said.

His comments come in the wake of a series of allegations concerning Ireland’s corporate tax code.

At a senate hearing in Washington last month, Apple executives admitted the company paid a top tax rate of 2 per cent on $74 billion of sales outside North America over the past three years, largely through its use of tax structures in Ireland.

Earlier today, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said the only way to deal with the corporate tax avoidance was through international action.

Rejecting claims that Ireland served as a tax haven for big corporations, Mr Varadkar repeated the Government’s position that it had no special tax arrangements with Apple or any other multinational.

“What corporations do, and they do it all over the world, is they avail of gaps between legislation in one state and the legislation in another in order to reduce their tax bill.”

The only way this can be dealt with was through international action which the Government supported, Mr Varadkar told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics.

On Friday, the two senior members of the Senate subcommittee, Democratic Senator Carl Levin and former presidential candidate Senator John McCain, said the evidence it had heard recently about Ireland met a “common sense” definition of a tax haven.

They were responding to a letter from the Irish Ambassador to the US, Michael Collins, who wrote to the subcommittee saying Ireland did not fit any of the four key indicators of a tax haven as identified by the OECD.

France announced today it plans to force large companies to declare details of their foreign activities as a way of reducing tax avoidance.

The move is France’s follow-up to a European Union summit last month where EU leaders said they would close loopholes to stop companies such as Google, Apple and Amazon aggressively avoiding taxes.

France will extend draft rules, initially planned only for banks, to other large companies, the finance ministry official said.

“Our aim is to extend to large companies the requirement to disclose activities abroad country-by-country,” an official said, adding that the measure would enter into force at a date decided at EU level.

“Just to give an example this would make sure that a company cannot declare no revenue in France while having hundreds of staff there and declare a lot of income in the Cayman islands with only one employee,” the official said.

The government will later specify in a decree the threshold above which the law would apply, according to Le Monde which reported the aim was to impose it on all companies in the CAC 40 stock index as well as non-listed companies.

But Michel Barnier, the European commissioner in charge of business regulation, said last week he wanted to force large companies throughout Europe to disclose how much tax they pay in each country where they operate.

Additional reporting: Reuters