Corporate tax – the game is up

Sir, – The central thesis of Fergal O'Rourke's article ("Ireland doing the sensible thing on corporate tax", Opinion & Analysis, ,July 12th) is that once our corporate tax policy is legal, it's okay. The bigger question is whether Ireland's facilitation of tax avoidance is right.

He argues that Ireland is not one of the “bad boys of the tax world”, because “other countries are more blatant about protecting their national interests” and, in any case, we have come a long way since the notorious Apple tax avoidance case and our infamous “double Irish” and “double Dutch” dodges. We shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves because, after all, Ireland faces “an ongoing battle to attract investment into an island on the periphery of Europe”.

This self-pitying special pleading doesn’t wash. Ireland is a wealthy country with a highly educated population; we are full members of the EU; and we won a seat on the UN Security Council on foot of our “soft power” across the globe.

We punch above our weight in many spheres, not least in the generosity of our response to natural disasters and the humanitarian work of Trócaire. Concern and other agencies.


But Ireland also punches above its weight in a domain that contradicts all that is good about our role and reputation in the world: we are world leaders in facilitating tax avoidance, as Patrick Honohan puts it, "by turning a blind eye to egregious tax manoeuvres" ("Government's stance on new tax deal could prove costly", Opinion & Analysis. July17th).

The effect of these manoeuvres is to plunder from poor countries, in particular the tax revenues they need to lift themselves out of destitution.

This amounts to 21st-century colonial exploitation.

The game has been up for a long time.

“The most indefensible of these manoeuvres should not have been allowed from the get-go”, as Patrick Honohan puts it. The Government’s determination to be the last man standing in defence of an unjust global tax regime is not only immorally indefensible, it is also short-sighted economic and industrial development policy. It is neither right nor smart. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.