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Carthy: Irish state's tax haven activities contribute to obscene inequality

18 October, 2017 - by Matt Carthy MEP


Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy has called on the government to immediately move to shut down remaining tax avoidance loopholes in Irish legislation, following the publication of a new report on the tax havens used by US Fortune 500 companies and the profits they book offshore.

Carthy, a member of the European Parliament’s Panama Papers inquiry, was speaking in response to the publication this week of the 2017 edition of ‘Offshore Shell Games’, produced by the US-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy and the Public Interest Research Group Education Fund.

“Once again, the Irish state is described in a major academic study as being a tax haven for the world’s wealthiest corporations. It is listed as the sixth most used tax haven for Fortune 500 companies to establish subsidiaries in, following the Netherlands at number one, Singapore, Hong Kong, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

“This report charts the increasing hoarding of cash offshore by these corporations between 2010 and 2016. Fortune 500 companies are now holding an astonishing $2.6 trillion in accumulated profits offshore for tax purposes. Four of these companies collectively account for a quarter of this sum – Apple, Pfizer, Microsoft and General Electric.

“All four of these companies have subsidiaries in Ireland – in fact, of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies in terms of the amount of profits they book offshore, nine have subsidiaries operating in the Irish state. In the cases of Apple and Google, they only list subsidiaries in Ireland.

“According to this report, Apple has booked $246 billion offshore, more than any other company in the world.  Every single cent has been booked through Irish subsidiaries, resulting in the company avoiding paying $76.7 billion in taxes in the US.

“Through its use of the Double Irish tax avoidance scheme, Google has  increased the amount of earnings it reported offshore from $12.3 billion in 2009 to $60.7 billion.”

“The government must immediately scrap the Double Irish, and legislate against the use of corporate inversions, which were highlighted as a key tax avoidance technique in this report.

Carthy concluded:

“This offshore scam is the single most important factor contributing to the obscene inequality we can see increasing rapidly around the world. For the Irish state to play a role in this global chain of tax avoidance is abhorrent and indefensible. We need decisive and immediate action to stop this behaviour that goes beyond the bare minimum agreed to by the OECD.”

Note to editors:

The report is available here: https://itep.org/wp-content/uploads/offshoreshellgames2017.pdf

On the methodology it used to define a jurisdiction as a tax haven, the report says the following: "The list of 50 tax havens used is based on lists from four sources compiled by the Congressional Research Service using similar characteristics to define tax havens. These sources were the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the National Bureau of Economic Research, a U.S. District Court order and a GAO report" (p24).

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