Determination will be required - International tax laws

THERE are as many views on how the loopholes offered by myriad national tax laws can be exploited to cut corporate tax bills as there are opinions on how they might be reformed to better support the societies that host transnational entities. 

These range from the view expressed by Apple’s top lawyer, Bruce Sewell, that governments exploit tax loopholes to penalise international businesses rather than the reverse of that accusation, to the occasional, quaint suggestion that these corporations might be nationalised.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager was in Dublin yesterday where she answered questions from Oireachtas members on the European Commission finding that Apple owes Ireland €13bn in taxes, a ruling our Government and Apple have appealed. It is likely it will be many years before a conclusion is reached on that thorny issue.

Ms Vestager insisted that the EU is not on a “witch hunt” against US companies, though it continues to investigate state aid offered to Amazon and McDonalds in EU states. She also dismissed the prospect that Europe’s hardening position on fake news might encourage social media companies to invest elsewhere. This issue is the very frontline of the challenges faced by nation states today — how to attract job-creating investment and, at the same time, get a fair slice of the cake through taxes. Its resolution, if it can be resolved, will define our world. Courage and determination will be needed.

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