Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD said the Irish Government ostrich mentality was responsible for Ireland’s tax reputation being damaged.
Deputy Doherty, who was responding to comments from US President Barack Obama concerning Ireland being a low tax jurisdiction in use by US MNCs trying to avoid tax, said:
“It’s two years now since an investigation in the US heard sworn testimony from the heads of Apple that Ireland had allowed the company a special tax rate ensuring an incredibly low effective tax rate. But talk of Ireland being a channel for aggressive tax planners has been rumbling on for a while.
“The response of the Irish Government, and of Fianna Fáil and establishment agencies has been to deny, deny, deny. They seem to see this as some sort of perverse patriotism, when in fact in it this ostrich approach that has left Ireland exposed and potentially under threat of job losses. Multinational companies have made an invaluable contribution to the Irish economy and it is vital that we keep their revenue and the jobs created – but also, that we are aware if any event or sequence of events has the potential to threaten investment in Ireland and that we cancel the threat, or plan for it. That’s good governance.
“Already, at Sinn Féin’s request, an Oireachtas sub-committee was established to examine Ireland’s role in international tax laws. However the refusal of other party representatives on the committee to invite in business leaders for questioning severely undermined the committee’s ability to function.
“Last year I also presented the Government with legislation to ensure Irish incorporated companies, non resident anywhere in the world, would be considered resident in Ireland for tax purposes. The Irish Government refused to accept the legislation, claiming there was no problem, but months later introduced a watered down clause in Finance Bill 2013. After intense pressure for our party and other responsible agencies, the Government is now looking at other measures to ensure Ireland is not seen as a tax haven – we can only hope it’s not too late.
“Ireland should continue to offer a competitive, efficient and fair tax system to international business. We should be conscious of our global responsibilities and ensure that no company is able to use Ireland in a scheme that contributes to damaging the tax generating abilities of developing nations.
“In addition, we believe strongly that the tax levied on MNCs should be no more and no less fair than the tax levied on indigenous companies, who generally pay the headline rate of corporation tax and cannot use international tax planning to reduce, proportionately, their tax bills. Sinn Féin will continue to work to that end.”