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Ireland in top six for helping companies avoid taxes according to Oxfam report

Ed Carthy - Irish Examiner

Ireland has been ranked sixth in a new Oxfam developed league table of the world’s worst corporate tax havens.

Oxfam branded the Republic the sixth-worst country for helping corporations to avoid paying billions of euros in tax bills each year.

The development agency said profit-shifting, sweetheart deals and a lack of effective tax rules influenced the damning score.

Jim Clarken, CEO of the charity’s Irish division, said the country is part of a toxic global system that services the very wealthiest while ordinary people pay the price and lose out on essential public services.

“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,” he said. “This is no badge of honour.”

Bermuda was ranked the worst in a study of 15 countries, followed by the Cayman Islands and the Netherlands. Switzerland and Singapore were ranked in fourth and fifth place followed by Ireland, with Luxembourg, Curacao, Hong Kong, and Cyprus making up the rest of the top 10.

The final five were the Bahamas, Jersey, Barbados, Mauritius, and the British Virgin Islands.

The countries were ranked in Oxfam’s new ‘Tax Battles’ report, published on the same day an appeal hearing gets under way by whistleblowers behind the LuxLeaks affairs, which exposed sweetheart tax deals between Luxembourg and large corporations.

Oxfam said tax avoidance by multinational corporations costs poor countries at least €92bn a year.

It said that money could educate the 124m children who are not in school and fund healthcare to save the lives of at least 6m children every year.

Oxam highlighted the tax paid by Apple in Ireland, which worked out at 0.005%, according to a European Commission report that also said the giant owed about €13 billion in back taxes.

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.

“We collect more detailed data about farm animals in this country than we do about the tax affairs of multinationals.”

Oxfam said the issue was not Ireland’s low corporation tax rate of 12.5%, but about loopholes and sweetheart deals. It called on the Government to agree international criteria on what makes a tax haven and a clear public list of where they are along with sanctions to limit profit-shifting.

The Department of Finance rejected Oxfam’s damning verdict.

“Ireland does not meet any of the international standards for being considered a tax haven,” it said.

“Ireland is fully compliant with all international best practices in the areas of tax transparency and exchange of information.

The Government said the corporation tax rate and incentives do not make the country a haven.

Read more on this story and sign-up on the Oxfam campaign to end what they have described as 'unfair tax haves' here

Posted Date: 
12 December 2016