Wednesday, September 21, 2016

21/9/16: Apple Tax Case: Not the Rate, the Loopholes

My column for the Village covering the Apple Tax fiasco:

As it says on the 'tin' - the problem with Apple Tax is not the rate of corporate taxation set in law in Ireland (the 12.5% 'red line' rate), and not tax competition, nor the benign nature of tax exemptions that Ireland bestows on all companies, including the MNCs. The problem is that these competitive aspects of the Irish regime are simply not enough for the likes of Apple, which pursued and obtained access to exemptions that any ordinary company operating in Ireland cannot avail of.

Hence, the red herring of the arguments that the EU Competition ruling is an attack on Irish tax rate. It is, instead, a challenge to the asymmetric preferences granted in the past (and still in use during the ongoing phase-out period) to a handful of MNCs over and above domestic companies. Lest we forget, for decades, Irish State had no qualms operating an openly discriminatory taxation regime that treated foreign investment-backed companies differently from domestic companies. Lest we omit considering the present, Irish State still has no qualms taxing human capital of its residents at rates far in excess of those applying to physical and financial capital. Lest we fail to think about it, Irish State has no qualms asymmetrically allocating the burden of the crisis to Irish people over and above our banks, foreign investors, foreign bondholders and vulture funds.

I am one of the most vocal advocates of low (benign) taxation, flat tax, competitive regulatory regimes (coupled with robust enforcement) and other means for improving the functioning of the private markets. Always been one and remain. I support real investment in the economy, both foreign and domestic and believe in a level playing field for entrepreneurs and enterprises, alike. But, folks, the debate around Apple Tax is not about 12.5% tax rate and Ireland's tax autonomy, but about asymmetric nature of privilege.

Post a Comment