Once upon a time, before the European Union broadened our horizons, ambitions, and opportunities, it was said that if Britain sneezed we got a cold. That plausible, if amateur, theory will be tested again soon enough, but the Department of Finance announcement that 7% of the State’s tax take, about €4bn, comes from only 10 firms highlights an equally-worrying dependency on external forces.
That tech giant Apple, one of the country’s largest tax-payers, just issued its first profit warning in 12 years adds to the sense of high-wire drama around how we fund this Republic’s obligations.
Though hardly cheering, it would be unwise not to consider what might happen if this revenue stream slowed or even dried up — possibilities that cannot be dismissed in this ‘America first’ world, increasingly divided by trade wars. If EU support on Brexit was linked to an upward review of corporation tax rates, then we would surely get at least a cold.
That dependency also shows looming public sector pay and pension demands in a sobering light.