Firms face grilling by PAC on tax loopholes

The Public Accounts Committee has formally written to Google, Apple and other major multinational firms based here ordering them to answer questions on the tax loopholes they target in this country.

PAC chair and Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming confirmed the move was taken yesterday in response to the Paradise Papers revelations.

Mr Fleming said “those letters have now been issued” and that he expects the firms — Google, Apple, Citibank, GSK, JP Morgan, and Pfizer — to appear “in early 2018”.

“We can talk about scheduling over a couple of days. Those letters have gone out and we’ll talk about that in due course,” Mr Fleming told the committee.

During a previous PAC meeting on November 9, just days after the Paradise Papers exposé, a number of PAC members including Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane and Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said the multinational firms must be grilled over how they target Ireland’s tax laws.

At the time, Ms Murphy said the committee needs to address the “very significant tax shelters” in this country, while Mr Cullinane said “alleged loopholes” need to be investigated.

Any examination would be focussed on concerns Ireland is losing out on hundreds of millions of euro in missing tax every year.

However, government sources have previously warned such a discussion could force multinationals employing large numbers of people to leave the country.

Meanwhile, during the same PAC meeting yesterday Mr Fleming said that early next year the committee is likely to examine tax issues relating to self-employed people working in RTÉ.

The PAC meeting has also heard that a number of groups which have shares in Nama — a move designed to keep it off the public finances book — have shared €13.5m in dividends Mr Fleming said could be better used to build social houses.

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