Ireland a ‘doormat state’

While Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton has insisted that the Irish tax regime is transparent, tax campaigners accused Ireland of being a ‘doormat’ state while academics claimed that up to 150,000 jobs could be jeopardised by Apple’s tax practices.

Mr Bruton claimed that Ireland was being scapegoated by other countries, when what is really needed is a united approach to tackle tax avoidance.

“Seeking to try and scapegoat individual countries is not the solution to this and I think we need to cooperate in bodies like the OECD to make sure we have a balanced approach to this to deal with harmful activities. Anything that we do is entirely above board and transparent,” Mr Bruton told Pat Kenny’s radio show.

However, tax campaigner Richard Murphy, the founder of the Tax Justice Network, said that Ireland was a conduit state that facilitated tax avoidance.

“I mean, I have described you as a doormat state where companies can wipe their feet of their tax avoidance and move their money on to somewhere else and you take in exchange for that a small fee.”

Mr Bruton insisted that Ireland does not meet the OECD criteria for a tax haven and as such is not a tax haven.

“I totally disagree with that. Ireland is not a tax haven and the OECD criteria define that. Also all of our tax regime is set out in clear statute.

There is no question of turning a blind eye; there are no side deals in our system, it is fully transparent,” said Mr Bruton.

However, Dr Stephen Kinsella, a University of Limerick lecturer in economics said that there was absolutely nothing transparent about a system where bank accounts exist yet don’t exist.

ERSI Research Professor John Fitzgerald said “the US Congress could wipe out 150,000 real jobs and we don’t want to provoke people by over egging it by allowing people to do things which are clearly upsetting to the US,” he said.

Mr Fitzgerald said the Government needed to develop a strategy that moves away from a reliance on tax in order to secure the future of foreign direct investment.

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