The reliance of the Irish exchequer on multinationals is again in the spotlight as a new Revenue analysis shows that the bulk of corporation tax receipts are paid by a handful of foreign-owned firms.
The analysis shows that the top 10 payers accounted for €4.4bn, or 40% of the €10.9bn in net corporation tax revenues flowing into the exchequer in 2019.
Foreign-owned multinationals also accounted for 77% of the corporation tax payments in 2019, and 44% of employment taxes paid in 2018 but accounted for 27% of company employees in that year, the Revenue analysis shows.
The individual companies have never been named by the State but the Revenue analysis shows that over three-quarters of the top payers continue to be foreign-owned multinationals.
The full role of the part played by individual multinationals in the Irish economy has increasingly been under scrutiny amid proposed global reforms led by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that threaten to reduce the amount the State collects from multinationals.
Since the recovery from the financial crisis of a decade ago, corporation receipts have ballooned to account for 19% of all the tax receipts collected by the exchequer.
In the latest Covid-19 economic crisis, corporation tax receipts will likely again play a big part in shoring up overall Government revenues as Vat tax payments collapse amid the lockdowns.
However, Irish citizens are still left in the dark about the identity of the handful of companies who play such an influential role in the economy.
The Revenue analysis shows that the sectors paying the most in corporation tax revenues include manufacturing, the financial sector, as well as information and technology.
The large number of US-owned pharmaceutical and technology firms which have major operations or head offices in Ireland has repeatedly been signalled out by President Donald Trump, and also featured during the 2016 White House race.
Before that, the revised spike in Ireland's 2015 GDP growth figures, which was caused by one or more unnamed US multinationals shifting intellectual property into Ireland, led to the “leprechaun economics” jibe by leading economist Paul Krugman.