The Revenue Commissioners are examining the more than 28,000 pages of leaked PricewaterhouseCoopers documents concerning tax deals struck with the Luxembourg authorities, a spokeswoman has said.
In November the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published a huge batch of confidential documents concerning advanced tax agreements negotiated with the Luxembourg authorities on behalf of multinational clients.
Included in the documents were details of agreements involving Irish company Glanbia, eight members of the Sisk family, English property owners Ian and Richard Livingstone, who own the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin, as well as a number of multinationals with substantial subsidiaries in Ireland, such as GlaxoSmithKline and Doughty Hanson, the owners of TV3 .
Yesterday the ICIJ published a new, smaller batch of similar documents that included agreements with multinationals that have subsidiaries here, including Skype, the Microsoft-owned business the IP of which is owned by an Irish company, and Hutchison Whampoa, the Hong Kong-based owners of the 3 mobile network.
“Revenue is currently examining the material made available on the ICIJ website, which is presented primarily in terms of Luxembourg tax issues, to identify interactions with the Irish tax base,” the spokeswoman said.
“At this point we have not sought material directly from the Luxembourg tax authorities – but we will not hesitate to do so if necessary.”
There is no suggestion that the tax agreements are illegal, though the content of the documents has served to fuel public pressure for reform of the global tax system.
The Belgian government is seeking access to tax agreements negotiated with Luxembourg and involving Belgian companies.
‘Toxic tax system’
Ireland said the new documents, released by ICIJ in partnership with a number of media outlets including
The Irish Times
and others, highlighted the urgent need for tax transparency at an EU level in order to fix “the toxic tax system”.
Chief executive Jim Clarken said Europe "cannot wait any longer . . . Plans currently in the pipeline to improve tax transparency should be speeded up to help fund public services essential to people living in poverty both in Europe and across the planet. Corporate tax dodgers must be made to pay their dues."
Pointing out that it was a question of social justice as well as economic efficiency, a spokeswoman for the European Commission said the answer to the Lux leaks scandal was “more harmonisation and co-ordination in order to fight avoidance and aggressive tax planning”.
But the commission denied that its president Jean-Claude Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg, had questions to answer, saying he was “100 per cent committed” to his job and to the political priorities outlined at the start of his tenure, including the fight against tax avoidance.
In an interview with French daily Libération, Mr Juncker said he had been "weakened" by the Lux leaks scandal.
The Luxembourg finance ministry has also responded to the latest revelations.
Pointing out that the documents “do not fundamentally differ from those already published a few weeks ago”, it said it agreed that “the legitimacy of certain mechanisms, which are compliant with international and national law, can be put in doubt from an ethical point of view.”
It conceded that the interaction of the tax regimes of multiple countries, together with the application of non-double taxation treaties “can lead to a significant reduction of a company’s tax burden, or even no taxation at all”.
A number of MEPs have reiterated their call for a committee of investigation to be established by the European Parliament, following the latest Luxembourg tax revelations. The finance spokesman for the Green group in the European Parliament said that Mr Juncker was “politically compromised”.