Sunday, August 3, 2014

3/8/2014: This Week in Corporate 'Not Tax Haven' News

Some links from recent press articles on Irish Corporate Tax regime:

  • BloombergView on the U.S. politicians' logic concerning the issue of tax breaks: With respect to Ireland, it no longer matters if there is any logic whatsoever to the U.S. Government and senior officials' statements on the matter. What does matter, however, is that we are now being increasingly / more frequently presented as an international tax arbitrage facilitators. That is the reputational cost of our decades-long policies. The real economic cost of our tax policies is that we no longer have any meaningful strategy or long-term outlook on manufacturing, productivity growth and/or investment. Instead, we have a strategy that relies, in part explicitly, but in full implicitly, on beggar-thy-neighbour tax arbitrage facilitation. 
  • Vox provides its own musings on the matter in "Tax inversions: 9 questions about the hottest new trend in tax avoidance" article. It describes tax inversion with a direct reference to Ireland (and Switzerland) as: "So a company whose business is subject to relatively heavy taxation in one country (say, the United States) can buy a smaller company located in a country where its business is taxed at a lower rate (say, Ireland) and then declare the merged entity to be domiciled in the low-tax country for the purposes of taxation. Walgreens, for example, is in the process of buying a Swiss company called Alliance Boots and is considering re-labelling itself as a subsidiary of the Swiss company to pay lower Swiss tax rates." This is not a debate about Double-Irish scheme or other aggressive tax optimisation loopholes, but about the actual headline tax rate - the sacred Irish cow of 12.5%. And this is serious, real danger to Ireland, as we have no meaningful industrial / manufacturing / services etc growth pillars outside our reliance on tax-attracted FDI. The full article is here:
  • Reuters wades in with an excellent piece on the potential costs of Ireland losing the war on international tax regime. "Ireland has too much to lose to deter U.S. companies re-homing" ( also dives into the issue of our 12.5% rate. "It would be difficult to block inversions without jeopardizing the broader benefits," says the author. Which I agree with. We have lost the leadership momentum in the global debate on tax optimisation and now our headline rate is firmly in the crosshair. But our delirious tax advisory experts are still not getting the picture: ""It's a dangerous road to go down," said Kevin McLoughlin, who as head of tax at accounting firm Ernst & Young… I really struggle to see how they can legislate against companies choosing Ireland as a destination in a way that's confined only to these types of situations. I think it's extremely unlikely because I just don't know what they can do." Well, the problems of legislating outside of Ireland may be tough, but I'd love to see Kevin struggling to fill the potential void left in our economy if the legislators abroad do succeed in legislating on the matter. Somehow, I doubt EY will be that creative with coming up with economic development strategy ideas as they are with coming up with tax optimisation ideas.
  • Robert Reich writes in that “American” corporations are a farce ( and names a list of the Irish-based European operations of blue-chip corporates as the "American farce". Reich pushes the agenda of tax optimisation to R&D supports… which is… oh, surprise surprise, at the top of Irish Government agenda… Now, is there an area of tax arbitrage we haven't captured yet?..
  • Last, but not least, remember the solemn, stern statements from Irish senior public figures arguing that Ireland does not promote itself as a tax arbitrage play, but rather focuses on 'human capital', 'regulatory environment' (aka - regulatory arbitrage) and 'headline rate of tax' (aka - inversions-enabling rate)? Well, they don't have to - instead of senior political and state leaders, we have a swarm of senior lawyers and accountants and corporate finance specialists and… to do the bidding, as reported by Reuters in "Irish, Dutch, UK law firms in tax inversion beauty contest in U.S." (

Time to cut some FDI ribbons, Ministers…

Note: you can track previous links and discussions relating to Irish corporate tax policies and debates by using 'search' option for 'corporate tax' on this blog or by following blog-links from here:

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