Three years of silence on ‘Single Malt’ tax loophole raises questions

Government’s professed interest in cleaning up corporate tax avoidance undermined

Former  minister Michael Noonan: Just days after he closed  the door on the Double Irish, corporate lawyers were blogging about the Single Malt approach. Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

Former minister Michael Noonan: Just days after he closed the door on the Double Irish, corporate lawyers were blogging about the Single Malt approach. Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

When the then minister for finance Michael Noonan closed the door on the Double Irish corporate tax loophole in 2014, great fanfare was made of Ireland staying ahead of the curve in addressing tax avoidance and silencing those critics who saw this State as a tax haven.

What should we make then of the “Single Malt”, the latest tax avoidance structure highlighted this week in a report by relief agency Christian Aid? Working through measures permitted in our network of tax treaties, it allows companies effectively to continue sheltering profits in the same way as they do under the Double Irish. The only difference is that, instead of a Caribbean tax haven, the final destination for the tax-free funds in a Single Malt is most likely fellow EU state Malta.

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