Government should defend corporate tax rate and ignore ‘tax haven’ claim

Ireland is not a tax haven and the Government should vigorously defend the corporate tax rate, said Peter Keegan, president of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland.

Ireland’s low corporate tax rate has come in for widespread criticism over recent years — mainly from other EU member states. The country has been described as a tax haven on a number of occasions.

“It is time to recognise that the international tax debate has moved way beyond our headline rate. Consolidation of the tax base, a Financial Transaction Tax and Transfer Pricing are all under the microscope as never before,” said Mr Keegan, addressing AmCham’s President’s Lunch yesterday.

“But any change will involve a fundamental rethink of international tax principles and we can anticipate much discussion and debate as the OECD formulates proposals for its Action Plan to be published in June. In any such debates, the Government must put the economic interests of this country first. As Ireland has learnt, when it comes to the international policy ‘taking one for the team’ isn’t always the best policy.

“In these circumstances we should not shy away from robustly protecting our competitive tax regime. We can stand firm in the knowledge that our tax regime is internationally recognised as fair, transparent and just. Ireland is not a tax haven and this is confirmed by the OECD and by the many tax treaties we have in place.”

Mr Keegan, who is country executive Ireland at Bank of America, noted that there has been a significant improvement in the country’s competitiveness over the past few years. But there is still a long way to go and the Government should not do anything that would undermine this improvement, he warned.

“This highlights the need for the utmost caution when it comes to any fiscal adjustments in the economy, as the Government weighs up difficult choices, we must carefully consider the impact of measures which add to the cost of doing business,” he said.

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