Finance Minister Michael Noonan has dismissed an Oxfam report which has dubbed Ireland as a leading world tax haven.
The Oxfam report put Ireland in the company of Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, after it found this country is sixth in the world for helping companies avoid taxes.
The agency found that Ireland facilitated corporate tax avoidance through profit-shifting and so-called sweetheart deals and it reported that, overall, it lacks effective tax rules.
However, Mr Noonan dismissed the findings, claiming “Oxfam’s remarks are so wide of what the actual factual position is that nobody will take them seriously”. He added: “I don’t think there is any reputational damage.”
Bermuda was ranked the worst in a review of 15 countries for facilitating tax avoidance, followed by the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Singapore. Ireland’s sixth place put it ahead, in descending order, of Luxembourg, Curacao, Hong Kong, and Cyprus.
Oxfam Ireland CEO Jim Clarken said: “Around the world, we are known as a country of good fun, bad weather, and awful tax policies that allow some of the world’s richest companies to avoid paying their fair share. This is no badge of honour.
The Oxfam report referenced the country’s 12.5% corporate tax rate, but placed much of the blame on loopholes and sweetheart deals available to big business. The report pointed to the EU Commission Apple ruling, which found the tech giant owed €13bn in back tax.
Mr Clarken said: “We need to get serious about making companies pay tax. We need transparency about where and how profits are made and and how they are taxed.”
The Department of Finance said it “strongly rejected” the findings of the report and claimed Ireland does not meet any of the international standards for being considered a tax haven.
“Ireland is fully compliant with all international best practices in the areas of tax transparency and exchange of information,” a statement released by the department claimed.
On the issue of the country’s corporate tax rate, the department said: “The 12.5% rate is fully in line with OECD and international best practice of having a low rate and applying it to a very wide tax base. Ireland’s corporate tax policies are designed to attract real and substantive operations to Ireland. Ireland has not been and never will be a brass-plate location.”
They also defended the “very limited number of targeted tax incentives that are fully in line with agreed international best practice”.
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