Aircraft firms pay just €23m in tax

The multi-billion euro aircraft leasing industry here paid Irish corporation tax of only €23m last year.

That is according to figures provided by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan who confirmed that the €23m paid over last year was less than the €29m the exchequer received from the industry in 2013.

Ireland is home to nine of the 10 largest aircraft leasing firms in the world.

Annual earnings statements from the five of those top firms based here, SMBC, Pembroke Capital, Awas Capital, GECAS and Avolon, show aggregate pre-tax profits of $650m (€572.9m) in 2014 generated from revenues of $3.25bn.

SMBC Aviation Capital alone owns and manages 417 aircraft valued at over $15bn which it leases to over 40 countries, while the book value of Pembroke Capital’s aircraft portfolio was worth €1.32bn at the end of last year.

According to an analysis by Professor John FitzGerald, the income from leasing in the economy, with the vast majority related to aircraft leasing, totalled almost €8bn in 2013.

However, in a written Dáil response to Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath, Mr Noonan confirmed the corporation tax take over the past five years from the aircraft leasing industry is €123m.

During those five years, the tax receipts from the industry were hit by the State making net Vat repayments to aircraft leasing firms of €83m, including €15m in net Vat repayments last year.

The industry employs 1,000 people directly and 2,000 staff indirectly.

The State estimates that the aircraft leasing companies’ spend on Irish professional services and infrastructure over €135m a year.

At board level at the top firms, the rewards are enormous with one airline executive, chief executive of Avolon Domhnal Slattery getting a $2.6m bonus last year.

Average pay at the top firms’ boards can run from $300,000 to a $1m a year. Yesterday, Avolon confirmed its shareholders voted in favour of a bid from Bohai Leasing in a $2.5bn deal.

The high pay in the industry is reflected in the employers’ PAYE payments last year of €55m.

The total amount received in tax from aircraft leasing firms last year was €63m taking into account the €15m in Vat repaid to the firms.

Mr Noonan confirmed that the aircraft leasing industry’s taxable profits are not available for last year.

However, he said that the industry’s taxable profits for 2013 were €231m when corporation tax of €29m was paid and taxable profits of €178m in 2012, when corporation tax of €36m was paid.

Commenting on the figures, Mr McGrath said Ireland needed to secure the future of the industry.


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