Tuesday, October 30, 2012

30/10/2012: Feeble defense for tax arbitrage

Saturday, October 27, 2012: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/gilmore-bids-to-reassure-merkels-heir-apparent-212198.html#.UI2WTN8hVo4.twitter

"Ireland’s corporation tax rate was in the sights of the man most likely to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor when he met Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore in Berlin. Peer Steinbruck, the Socialists’ candidate to lead the party in next year’s election, also said he doesn’t personally believe in using EU funds to pay down bank debt."

Now, here's the problem: Steinbruck has been "deeply critical of Ireland’s generous corporation tax, blaming it for Germany losing income from German companies, when he was finance minister in the previous coalition government with Ms Merkel."

Per report, "the Tánaiste tried to reassure him that Ireland’s tax rate of 12.5% — the second lowest in the EU — posed no threat to Germany… …Over 1,000 multinationals are based in the country and last year was a record for inward investment. "This is not a threat to Germany or to our other partners in Europe — there are more jobs in Irish companies operating in Germany than there are in German companies operating in Ireland. "In fact, in many instances we are competing for mobile investment with other parts of the world and not with our fellow European," said Mr Gilmore."

One wonders if Mr Gilmore is simply playing an ignorant or is indeed unaware of the fact that beyond his own prowess of policy foresight, other countries in Europe, including Germany, would like to see European HQs of non-EU MNCs set up in their jurisdictions? Or perhaps Mr Gilmore thinks that Peer Steinbruck is some naive school-teacher-turns-politico and that the German Socialist has no desire to correct for often absurd tax arbitrage on which Germany is losing billions in tax revenues and which Ireland facilitates (see links here : http://trueeconomics.blogspot.ie/2012/10/13102012-irish-corporate-tax-haven-in.html). This tax arbitrage not only imposes direct cost on Germany (via German MNCs accounting practices via Ireland operations), but also massive indirect costs as non-German MNCs trade into German economy bypassing German tax system.

In reality, all tax havens are small open economies, so Mr Gilmore's 'Ireland is small, so it needs special tax regime' argument is hardly a defense.
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