Ireland's Corporate Tax System is a central component of Ireland's economy. In 2016–17, foreign firms paid 80% of Irish corporate tax, employed 25% of the Irish labour force (paid 50% of Irish salary tax), and created 57% of Irish OECD non-farm value-add. As of 2017, 25 of the top 50 Irish firms were U.S.–controlled businesses, representing 70% of the revenue of the top 50 Irish firms. By 2018, Ireland had received the most U.S. § Corporate tax inversions in history, and Apple was over one–fifth of Irish GDP. Academics rank Ireland as the largest tax haven; larger than the Caribbean tax haven system.[a]
Ireland's "headline" corporation tax rate is 12.5%, however, foreign multinationals pay an aggregate § Effective tax rate (ETR) of 2.2–4.5% on global profits "shifted" to Ireland, via Ireland's global network of bilateral tax treaties. These lower effective tax rates are achieved by a complex set of Irish base erosion and profit shifting ("BEPS") tools which handle the largest BEPS flows in the world (e.g. the Double Irish as used by Google and Facebook, the Single Malt as used by Microsoft and Allergan, and Capital Allowances for Intangible Assets as used by Accenture, and by Apple post Q1 2015).
Ireland's main § Multinational tax schemes use "intellectual property" ("IP") accounting to affect the BEPS movement, which is why almost all foreign multinationals in Ireland are from the industries with substantial IP, namely technology and life sciences.
Ireland's GDP is artificially inflated by BEPS accounting flows. This distortion escalated in Q1 2015 when Apple executed the largest BEPS transaction in history, on-shoring $300 billion of non–U.S. IP to Ireland (resulting in a phenomenon dubbed by some as "leprechaun economics"). In 2017, it forced the Central Bank of Ireland to supplement GDP with an alternative measure, modified gross national income (GNI*), which removes some of the distortions by BEPS tools. Irish GDP was 162% of Irish GNI* in 2017.[b]
Ireland's corporation tax regime is integrated with Ireland's IFSC tax schemes (e.g. Section 110 SPVs and QIAIFs), which give confidential routes out of the Irish corporate tax system to Sink OFC's in Luxembourg. This functionality has made Ireland one of the largest global Conduit OFCs, and the third largest global Shadow Banking OFC.
As a countermeasure to potential exploits by U.S. companies, the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) moves the U.S to a "territorial tax" system. The TJCA's GILTI–FDII–BEAT tax regime has seen U.S. IP–heavy multinationals (e.g. Pfizer), forecast 2019 effective tax rates that are similar to those of prior U.S. tax inversions to Ireland (e.g. Medtronic). Companies taking advantage of Ireland's corporate tax regime are also threatened by the EU's desire to introduce EU–wide anti-BEPS tool regimes (e.g. the 2020 Digital Services Tax, and the CCCTB).
Tax Revenue (1)
Tax Revenue (2)
|(1) as % of (2)||Top 10 Payer as
% of Net CT
|Foreign Payer as
% of Net CT
Each year, the Department of Finance is required to produce a report on Estimates for Receipts and Expenditure for the coming year. The table below, is extracted from the "Tax Revenues" section of the report for the prior-year (e.g. the 2017 column is from the 2018 report), by which time the "Tax Revenues" for that year are largely known (although still subject to further revision in later years).
The "Tax Revenues" quoted are Exchequer Tax Revenues, and do not include Appropriations-in-Aid ("A–in–A") items, the largest being Social Security (or PRSI) which for 2015 was €10.2 billion, and other smaller items. Irish Personal Income tax, and the two main Irish consumption taxes of VAT and Excise, have consistently been circa 80% of the total Irish Exchequer Tax Revenue, with the balance being Corporate tax.
|Category||Amount (€ m)||Distribution (%)|
|Capital Gains Tax (CGT)||400||555||695||795||1%||1%||1%||2%|
|Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT)||330||370||455||450||1%||1%||1%||1%|
|Income Tax (PAYE)||17,181||18,199||19,184||20,245||42%||41%||40%||40%|
|Corporation Tax (CT)||4,525||6,130||7,515||7,965||11%||14%||16%||16%|
|Value-Added Tax (VAT)||11,070||12,025||12,630||13,425||27%||27%||26%||27%|
|Local Property Tax (LPT)||520||438||460||470||1%||1%||1%||1%|
|Total Exchequer Tax Revenue[e]||41,041||44,637||48,134||50,620||100%||100%||100%||100%|
Ireland's economic model was transformed from a predominantly agricultural-based economy to a knowledge-based economy, when the EU agreed to waive EU State-aid rules to allow Ireland's 'special rate' of 10% for manufacturing (created in 1980–81 with the EU's agreement), to be extended to the special economic zone called the International Financial Services Centre ("IFSC") in Dublin city centre in 1987. The transformation was accelerated when Ireland's standard corporate tax rate was reduced from 40% to 12.5% (phased in from 1996 to 2003), in response to the EU's 1996–1998 decision to withdraw the State-aid waiver. The passing of the 1997 Taxes and Consolidated Acts laid the legal foundations for the base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) tools used by U.S. multinationals in Ireland (e.g. the Double Irish, the Capital Allowances for Intangible Assets and the Section 110 SPV), to achieve an effective Irish CT rate, or ETR, of 0–2.5%.[c]
While low CT rates (and even lower effective tax rates), are a central part of Irish tax policy, non–CT Taxation in the Republic of Ireland is closer to EU–28 and OECD averages.[f] Ireland's policy is summarised by the OECD's Hierarchy of Taxes pyramid (reproduced in the Department of Finance Tax Strategy Group's 2011 corporate tax policy document). As shown in § Yearly returns (2001–2017), annual Irish CT has been between 10 and 16 percent of annual Total Irish Tax from circa 1994 to 2018. From 2000 to 2014, Ireland's Total Tax-to-GDP ratio was circa 27–30%, versus the OECD average of 33%. However, since Apple's Irish restructuring artificially inflated Ireland's GDP by 34.3% in 2015, Ireland's Tax-to-GDP ratio had fallen to the bottom of the OECD range at under 23%.
In June 2018, tax academics estimated that Ireland was the largest global tax haven, exceeding the combined flows of the entire Caribbean tax haven system. Tax academics have also showed that being a corporate tax haven has been a prosperous economy strategy for Ireland, and most other havens. However, research also showed that the artificial distortion of Ireland's economic data, and GDP in particular, by BEPS flows, led to a large credit bubble during 2003–2007 (due to the mispricing of Ireland's credit by international markets), and an eventual credit–property–banking crisis in 2008–2013 (when Ireland's credit was re-priced).
Ireland's main foreign multinationals are from periods when their home jurisdiction had a "worldwide tax" system (see Table 1), and since the UK switched to a "territorial tax" system in 2009–12, Ireland has been almost exclusively a U.S. corporate–tax haven (see Table 1). In October 2014, The Guardian quoted Bono, the lead singer of Ireland's U2, as saying that "his country's tax policies have "brought our country the only prosperity we've known"". In April 2016, award-winning Irish writer, Fintan O'Toole labelled Ireland's focus on being a U.S. corporate tax haven as the core economic model, as Ireland's OBI, (or "One Big Idea").
U.S.–controlled multinationals, either legally based in the U.S. or legally based in Ireland (e.g. tax inversions), dominate Ireland's economy. In June 2018, the American Chamber of Commerce (Ireland) estimated the value of U.S. investment in Ireland was €334 billion, which compared to 2017 Irish GNI* of €181.2 billion. In January 2018, Eurostat used 2015 data to show the gross operating surplus of foreign companies in Ireland was almost exclusively from U.S. companies, with the UK was a distant second, and little other foreign firm activity.
In 2016–2017, foreign multinationals, being entirely U.S.–controlled:
The main features regarding foreign multinationals in Ireland are:
Ireland's corporate BEPS tools emphasise job creation (either of Irish employees or of foreign employees to Ireland). To use Irish BEPS tools, and their ETRs of 0–2.5%,[c] the multinational must meet conditions on the intellectual property ("IP") they will be using as part of their Irish BEPS tool. This is outlined in the Irish Finance Acts particular to each scheme, but in summary, the multinational must:
The percentage of Irish wages-to-profits required in the "business plan" has never been disclosed, however, commentators imply the Irish wage-roll needs to be circa 2–3% of profits booked in Ireland:
To the extent that the Irish jobs are performing real functions (i.e. the function is not replicated elsewhere in the Group), the cost is not an "employment tax", however, at worst case, the U.S. multinational should incur an aggregate effective Irish corporation tax of 2–6% (actual Irish BEPS tool tax of 0–2.5%,[c] plus Irish employment costs of 2–3%). Therefore, as shown in § Yearly returns (2001–2017), while Irish CT has consistently been between 10 and 15% of Total Irish Tax, the additional employment contribution made by U.S. multinationals in Ireland, has led to strong growth in overall Irish Total Taxes.
The top 50 Irish companies, ranked by 2017 Irish registered revenues, are as follows:
|1||Apple Ireland||United States||technology||not inversion||119.2|
|3||Medtronic plc||United States||life sciences||2015 inversion||26.6|
|4||United States||technology||not inversion||26.3|
|5||Microsoft||United States||technology||not inversion||18.5|
|6||Eaton||United States||industrial||2012 inversion||16.5|
|8||Allergan[n]||United States||life sciences||2013 inversion||12.9|
|9||United States||technology||not inversion||12.6|
|10||Shire[o]||Great Britain||life sciences||2008 inversion||12.4|
|11||Ingersoll-Rand||United States||industrial||2009 inversion||11.5|
|12||Dell Ireland||United States||technology||not inversion||10.3|
|13||Oracle||United States||technology||not inversion||8.8|
|16||Pfizer||United States||life sciences||not inversion||7.5|
|19||Merck & Co||United States||life sciences||not inversion||6.1|
|20||Sandisk||United States||technology||not inversion||5.6|
|21||Boston Scientific||United States||life sciences||not inversion||5.0|
|24||Perrigo||United States||life sciences||2013 inversion||4.1|
|25||Experian[p]||Great Britain||technology||2006 inversion||3.9|
|29||Mallinckrodt||United States||life sciences||2013 inversion||3.3|
|31||Alexion Pharma||United States||life sciences||not inversion||3.2|
|33||VMware||United States||technology||not inversion||2.9|
|34||Abbott Laboratories||United States||life sciences||not inversion||2.9|
|35||ABP Food Group||IRL||—||—||2.8|
|36||Kingston Technology||United States||technology||not inversion||2.7|
|38||Circle K Limited||IRL||—||—||2.6|
|39||Tesco Ireland||Great Britain||food retail||not inversion||2.6|
|40||McKesson||United States||life sciences||not inversion||2.6|
|43||Intel Ireland||United States||technology||not inversion||2.3|
|44||Gilead Sciences||United States||life sciences||not inversion||2.3|
|45||Adobe||United States||technology||not inversion||2.1|
|48||Baxter||United States||life sciences||not inversion||2.0|
|49||Paddy Power Betfair||IRL||—||—||2.0|
From the above table:
The tax schemes used by U.S. multinationals in Ireland are called base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) tools by tax academics. Whereas Ireland's headline corporation tax rate is 12.5%, Ireland's BEPS tools enable an effective tax rate of 0% to 2.5% to be achieved, depending on which BEPS tool is used.[c]
Ireland has been associated with U.S. multinational profit shifting to avoid taxes since the U.S. IRS produced a list on the 12 January 1981.[q] In February 1994, the U.S. tax academic, James R. Hines Jr. identified Ireland as one of seven "major" tax havens for U.S. multinational profit shifting. During the 2014–2016 EU investigation into Apple's Irish BEPS tools, it was revealed that the Irish Revenue Commissioners had been issuing private rulings on Apple's Double Irish BEPS tools as far back as 1991; and that Apple, Ireland's largest company, had an ETR of less than 1%. In 2014, the EU Commission forced Ireland to close its Double Irish BEPS tool, however, Ireland had replacements in place: the Single Malt (2014), and the Capital Allowances for Intangible Assets (CAIA) (2009).
When Apple closed its hybrid–Double Irish BEPS tool in Q1 2015 and restructured into the CAIA BEPS tool, the Irish Central Statistics Office ("CSO") had to re-state Irish 2015 GDP as Apple's CAIA tool had artificially inflated Irish GDP by 34.4%; an event Paul Krugman christened in July 2016 as Leprechaun economics. Because the Irish CSO delayed the re-statement and redacted normal economic data to protect Apple's identity, it was not until January 2018, that economists could confirm Apple as the source of "leprechaun economics", and that at $300 billion, was the largest BEPS action in history. By February 2017, the distortion of Irish economic data by Irish BEPS tools had grown so large, that the Central Bank of Ireland replaced GDP with Modified GNI; 2017 Irish GNI* is 40% below Irish GDP (see Table 2).
In November 2016, Ireland signed the OECD BEPS Multilateral Instrument ("MLI") to curb global BEPS tools but opted out of Article 12 to protect the Single Malt and CAIA BEPS tools. In March 2018, the Financial Stability Forum showed Ireland's Debt–based BEPS tools made it the 3rd–largest Shadow Banking OFC in the world. In June 2018, tax academics showed Irish IP–based BEPS tools were artificially distorting aggregate EU GDP data, and had artificially inflated the EU–U.S. trade-deficit. In June 2018, tax academics confirmed IP–based BEPS tools had made Ireland the world's largest tax haven, and that the $106 billion of annual corporate profits shielded by Irish BEPS tools, exceeded the BEPS flows of the entire Caribbean tax haven system.
Ireland's main BEPS tools use intellectual property (IP) to effect the profit shift from the higher-tax locations to Ireland, via royalty payment schemes. To avoid incurring Irish corporation tax on these shifted profits, the BEPS tools either send-on the profits to traditional tax havens (with explicit 0% CT rates) via royalty payment schemes (e.g. the Double Irish and Single Malt BEPS tools), or use intangible capital allowances schemes to write-off the profits against Irish tax (e.g. the CAIA BEPS tool). This is the reason why most U.S. multinationals in Ireland are from the two largest IP–industries, namely technology companies and life sciences; or, are specific companies with valuable industrial patents such as Ingersoll-Rand and Eaton Corporation.
Ireland describes its IP–based BEPS tools as being part of its "knowledge economy"; however, U.S. tax academics describe IP as "the leading tax avoidance vehicle in the world". Despite its small size, Ireland ranks 6th in the 2018 U.S. Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) league table of the top 50 global centres for IP–leglislation, and 4th in the important Patents sub-category (see graphic opposite).
While Ireland's most important BEPS tools are all IP–based, Ireland has other BEPS tools including Transfer Pricing–based BEPS tools (e.g. contract manufacturing), and Debt–based BEPS tools (e.g. the Irish Section 110 SPV, and the Irish L-QIAIF).
Ireland's IP–based BEPS tools have only attracted material operations from multinationals whose home jurisdiction had a "worldwide tax" system; namely, the U.K pre–2009, and the U.S. pre–2018 (see Table 1). Ireland has not attracted material technology or life sciences multinationals (outside of a specific plant, under its TP–based Contract Manufacturing BEPS tool), whose home jurisdiction operates a "territorial tax" system. As of November 2018[update], there are only 6 remaining jurisdictions in the world who operate a "worldwide tax" system, of which Ireland is one (namely, Chile, Greece, Ireland, Israel, South Korea, Mexico).[h]
In 2016, U.S. tax academic, James R. Hines Jr. showed firms from "territorial tax" systems make little use of corporate–tax havens, as their tax code applied lower rates to foreign-sourced profits. Hines, with German tax academics, showed the German tax code charged a CT rate of 5% to the foreign profits of German multinationals. Hines was one of the most-cited sources when the U.S. Council of Economic Advisors advocated switching the U.S. tax code to a "territorial system" in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
In 2014, the U.S Tax Foundation, reported on how the UK had effectively stopped UK corporates inverting to Ireland, by switching the UK corporate tax-code to a "territorial system" over 2009–2012. By 2014, the UK HMRC reported that most of the UK multinationals that had inverted to Ireland had either returned to the UK (e.g., WPP plc, United Business Media plc, Henderson Group plc), or were about to be acquired by U.S. multinationals as part of a U.S. corporate tax inversion to Ireland (e.g. Shire plc).[o]
An "artificially inflated GDP-per-capita statistic", is a known feature of tax havens, due to the BEPS flows. In February 2017, Ireland's national accounts became so distorted by BEPS flows that the Central Bank of Ireland replaced Irish GDP with a new economic measure, Irish Modified GNI*. However, in December 2017, Eurostat reported that Modified GNI* did not remove all of the distortions from Irish economic data.
By September 2018, the Irish Central Statistics Office ("CSO") reported that Irish GDP was 162% of Irish GNI* (i.e. BEPS tools had artificially inflated Ireland's economic statistics by 62%).[b] Irish public indebtedness changes dramatically depending on whether debt-to-GDP, debt-to-GNI* or debt-per-capita is used; the debt-per-capita metric removes all distortion from Irish BEPS tools and implies a level of Irish public-sector indebtedness that is only surpassed by Japan.
(†) The Central Statistics Office (Ireland) revised 2015 GDP higher in 2017, increasing Ireland's 2015 GDP growth rate from 26.3% to 34.4%.
(‡) Eurostat show that GNI* is also still distorted by certain BEPS tools, and specifically contract manufacturing, which is a significant activity in Ireland.
The earliest recorded versions of the Double Irish BEPS tool are by Apple in the late 1980s; and the EU discovered Irish Revenue rulings on the Double Irish for Apple in 1991. Almost every major U.S. technology and life sciences firm has been associated with the Double Irish. Feargal O'Rourke, PwC tax partner in the IFSC (and son of Minister Mary O'Rourke, cousin of the 2008–2011 Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan Jnr) is regarded as its "grand architect". In 2018, tax academics showed the Double Irish shielded $106 billion of mainly U.S. annual corporate profits from both Irish and U.S. taxation in 2015. As the BEPS tool with which U.S. multinationals built up untaxed offshore reserves of circa US$1 trillion from 2004 to 2017,[r][s] the Double Irish is the largest tax avoidance tool in history. In 2016, when the EU levied a €13 billion fine on Apple, the largest tax fine in history, it covered the period 2004–14, during which Apple paid an Irish ETR of <1% on €110.8 billion in Irish profits. Despite the loss of taxes to the U.S. exchequer, it was the EU Commission that forced Ireland to close the Double Irish from January 2015; with closure to existing users by 2020.
In an October 2013 interview, PwC tax partner Feargal O'Rourke ("architect" of the Double Irish, see above), said that: "the days of the Double Irish tax scheme are numbered". In October 2014, as the EU forced the Irish State to close the Double Irish BEPS tool, the influential U.S. National Tax Journal published an article by Jeffrey L Rubinger and Summer Lepree, showing that Irish based subsidiaries of U.S. corporations could replace the Double Irish arrangement with a new structure (now known as Single Malt). The Irish media picked up the article, but when an Irish MEP notified the then Finance Minister, Michael Noonan, he was told to "Put on the green jersey". A November 2017 report by Christian Aid, titled Impossible Structures, showed how quickly the Single Malt BEPS tool was replacing the Double Irish. The report detailed Microsoft's and Allergen's schemes and extracts from advisers to their clients. In September 2018, The Irish Times revealed that U.S. medical device manufacturer Teleflex, had created a Single Malt scheme in July 2018, and reduced their corporate tax rate to circa 3%; and that the Irish State were keeping the matter, "under consideration".
In November 2018, the Irish Government amended the Ireland–Malta tax treaty to prevent the Single Malt BEPS tool being used between Ireland and Malta (it can still be used with the UAE for example). On the same day the closure was announced, LinkedIn in Ireland, identified as a user of the Single Malt tool in 2017, announced in filings that it had sold a major IP asset to its parent, Microsoft (Ireland). In July 2018, it was disclosed in the Irish financial media that Microsoft (Ireland) were preparing a restructure of their Irish BEPS tools into a CAIA (or Green Jersey) Irish tax structure.
In June 2009, the Irish State established the Commission on Taxation, to review Ireland's tax regime, and included Feargal O'Rourke ("architect" of the Double Irish, see above). In September 2009, the Commission recommended that the Irish State provide capital allowances for the acquisition of intangible assets, creating the Capital Allowances for Intangible Assets (CAIA) BEPS tool. Whereas the Double Irish and Single Malt BEPS tools enable Ireland to act as a confidential "Conduit OFC" for rerouting untaxed profits to places like Bermuda (i.e. it must be confidential as higher-tax locations would not sign full tax treaties with locations like Bermuda), the CAIA BEPS tool, enables Ireland to act as the "Sink OFC" (i.e. the terminus for untaxed profits, like Bermuda).
CAIA uses the accepted tax concept of providing capital allowances for the purchase of physical assets.[t] However, Ireland turns it into a BEPS tool by providing the allowances for the purchase of intangible assets, and particularly intellectual property assets; and critically, where the owner of the intangible assets is a "connected party" (e.g. a Group subsidiary, often located in a tax haven); and has valued the assets for the inter-Group transaction using an Irish IFSC accounting firm.
CAIA capitalises the tax shield of the Double Irish, and thus materially increases the distortion of the Irish national accounts. This was shown in July 2016 when the Irish CEO had to restate Irish 2015 GDP by 34.4% due to Apple's Q1 2015 restructure into a CAIA BEPS tool. A June 2018 report by the EU Parliament's GUE–NGL body showed that Apple doubled the Irish corporate tax shield of its CAIA BEPS tool by financing the acquisition of the IP via Jersey (the report called the CAIA BEPS tool, the Green Jersey). Whereas the Double Irish and Single Malt have an ETR of less than 1%, the ETR of the CAIA BEPS tool ranges from 0% to 2.5% depending on the date on which the CAIA tool was started (see effective tax rates).[u]
The KDB behaves like a CAIA BEPS scheme with a cap of 50% (i.e. similar to getting 50%–relief against capitalised IP, for a net effective Irish tax rate of 6.25%). As with the CAIA BEPS scheme, the KDB is limited to specific "qualifying assets", however, unlike the CAIA tool, these are quite narrowly defined by the 2015 Finance Act.
The Irish KDB was created with tight conditions to ensure OECD compliance and thus meets the OECD's "modified Nexus standard" for IP. This has drawn criticism from Irish tax advisory firms who feel that its use is limited to pharmaceutical (who have the most "Nexus" compliant patents/processes), and some niche sectors.
It is expected these conditions will be relaxed over time through refinements of the 2015 Finance Act; a route taken by other Irish IP–based BEPS tools:
Irish tax-law firms expect the Irish KDB terms will be brought into alignment with the CAIA BEPS tool terms in the future.
A Section 110 Special Purpose Vehicle ("SPV") is an Irish tax resident company, which qualifies under Section 110 of the 1997 Irish Taxes Consolidation Act ("TCA"), by virtue of restricting itself to only holding "qualifying assets", for a special tax regime that enables the SPV to attain full tax neutrality (i.e. the SPV pays no Irish corporate taxes). It is a major Irish Debt–based BEPS tool.
Section 110 was created to help International Financial Services Centre ("IFSC") legal and accounting firms compete for the administration of global securitisation deals. While they pay no Irish taxes, they contribute circa €100 million annually to the Irish economy from fees paid to the IFSC legal and accounting firms. IFSC firms lobbied the Irish State for successive amendments to the Section 110 legislation, so that by 2011, Section 110 had become an Irish Debt–based BEPS tool, for avoiding tax on Irish and international assets.
In 2016, it was discovered that U.S. distressed debt funds used Section 110 SPVs, structured by IFSC professional service firms, to avoid material Irish taxes on domestic Irish activities, while State-backed mezzanine funds were using Section 110 SPVs to lower their clients Irish corporate tax liability. Academic studies in 2017 note that Irish Section 110 SPVs operate in a brass plate fashion with little regulatory oversight from the Irish Revenue or Central Bank of Ireland, and have been attracting funds from undesirable activities (e.g. sanctioned Russian banks).
These abuses were discovered because Section 110 SPVs must file public accounts with the Irish CRO. In 2018 Central Bank of Ireland overhauled the little-used L–QIAIF vehicle, so that is now offers the same tax benefits on Irish assets held via debt as the Section 110 SPV, but without having to file Irish public accounts.
The Irish QIAIF regime is exempt from all Irish taxes and duties (including VAT and withholding tax), and apart from the VCC wrapper, do not have to file public accounts with the Irish CRO. This has made QIAIF an important "backdoor" out of the Irish corporate tax system. The most favoured destination is to Sink OFC Luxembourg, which receives 50% of all outbound Irish foreign direct investment ("FDI). QIAIFs, with Section 110 SPVs, have made Ireland the 3rd largest Shadow Banking OFC.
When the Section 110 SPV Irish domestic tax avoidance scandals surfaced in late 2016, it was due to Irish financial journalists and Dáil Éireann representatives scrutinising the Irish CRO public accounts of U.S. distressed firms. In November 2016 the Central Bank began to overhaul the L-QIAIF regime. In early 2018, the Central Bank upgraded the L-QIAIF regime so that it could replicate the Section 110 SPV (e.g. closed end debt structures), but without needing to file public CRO accounts. In June 2018, the Central Bank announced that €55 billion of U.S. distressed debt assets had transferred out of Section 110 SPVs.
The ability of foreign institutions to use QIAIFs (and particularly the ICAV-wrapper) to avoid all Irish taxes on Irish assets has been blamed for the bubble in Dublin commercial property (and, by implication, the Dublin housing crisis). This risk was highlighted in 2014 when Central Bank of Ireland consulted the European Systemic Risk Board ("ESRB") after lobbying to expand the L-QIAIF regime.
Ireland's transfer pricing ("TP") based BEPS tools are mostly related to contract manufacturing. By refusing to implement the 2013 EU Accounting Directive (and invoking exemptions on reporting holding company structures until 2022), Ireland enables their TP and IP–based BEPS tools to structure as "unlimited liability companies" (ULCs) which do not have to file public accounts with the Irish CRO. In spite of this, many Irish IP–based BEPS tools are so large that tax academics have been able to separate out their scale from filed group accounts (e.g. work of Gabriel Zucman). However, Irish TP–based BEPS tools are smaller, and therefore harder to pick out from a listed multinational's group accounts. In addition, the Irish State, to help obfuscate the activities of the larger and more important IP–based BEPS tools, sometimes present their data as manufacturing data. It is generally regarded that Ireland's main TP–based BEPS tool users are the life sciences manufacturers.
The headline tax rate is the rate of taxation that is applied to the profits that a tax-code deems to be taxable after deductions. The effective tax rate is the rate of taxation implied by the actual quantum of tax paid versus profits before all deductions are applied. The gap between the Irish corporate headline rate of 12.5%, and the much lower Irish corporate effective rate of 2–4%, is a source of controversy:
Many of the multinationals gathered at the Four Seasons [in Dublin, Ireland] that day pay far less than 12.5 percent tax, their accounts show. Ireland helps them do this by generously defining what profit it will tax, and what it will leave untouched.
Applying a 12.5% rate in a tax code that shields most corporate profits from taxation, is indistinguishable from applying a near 0% rate in a normal tax code.
Apple isn't in Ireland primarily for Ireland's 12.5 percent corporate tax rate. The goal of many U.S. multinational firms' tax planning is globally untaxed profits, or something close to it. And Apple, it turns out, doesn't pay that much tax in Ireland.
The Irish State asserts Ireland's ETR similar to the Irish headline CT rate of 12.5%. This is an important issue as Ireland's BEPS tools, the core of Ireland's § Low tax economy, rely on having a global network of full bilateral tax treaties that accept Ireland's BEPS tools; major economies do not sign full bilateral tax treaties with known tax havens (e.g. Bermuda or Jersey). When the EU Commission published their findings on Apple's Irish BEPS tools in 2016 (see below), Brazil became the first G–20 economy to blacklist Ireland as a tax haven, and suspended the Brazil–Ireland bilateral tax treaty.
In 2014, Ireland refused to implement the 2013 EU Accounting Directive, and invoked exemptions on reporting holding company structures until 2022, so that multinationals can register as Irish "unlimited liability companies" (ULCs), which do not have to file public accounts with the Irish CRO. However, as most foreign multinationals in Ireland are major U.S. listed companies (see Table 1), tax academics have been able to estimate their Irish ETR from U.S. filings. In addition, the 2014–2016 EU investigation into Apple, Ireland's largest company, produced detail on Apple's Irish ETR from 2004 to 2014.
Make no mistake: the headline rate is not what triggers tax evasion and aggressive tax planning. That comes from schemes that facilitate profit shifting.
Notable independent research from 1994 to 2018, has estimated Ireland's overall aggregate effective tax rate for foreign corporates at between 2.2% to 4.5%:
Over the years, the largest U.S. multinationals in Ireland, who are both Ireland's largest companies and pay most of Ireland's corporation tax (see low tax economy), have filed various accounts showing their Irish ETR. As discussed above, because Ireland refused to ratify the 2013 EU Accounting Directive, many of these multinationals have switched to "unlimited liability companies" in Ireland, which do not file accounts; thus the information is only available in a few cases. However, where U.S. multinationals have disclosed Irish financials, they all imply an Irish ETR of less than 1 percent.[v]
Examples are (see Table 1 for rankings):
Irish BEPS tools are not overtly marketed as brochures showing near-zero effective tax rates would damage Ireland's ability to sign and operate bilateral tax treaties (i.e. higher-tax countries do not sign full treaties with known tax havens).[w] However, since the Irish financial crisis, some Irish tax law firms in the IFSC produced CAIA brochures openly marketing that its ETR was 2.5%.[u]
where the IP is "bought-in" by an Irish company, the tax regime has recently been improved in that a tax deduction can now be claimed in respect of the capital expenditure on the acquisition of a wide variety of intangible assets. ... This can result in an effective rate of tax of 2.5% (12.5% of 20%) on income arising from the exploitation of IP where tax depreciation for the capital spend on the acquisition of IP is fully utilised.
Intellectual Property: The effective corporation tax rate can be reduced to as low as 2.5% for Irish companies whose trade involves the exploitation of intellectual property. The Irish IP regime is broad and applies to all types of IP. A generous scheme of capital allowances. ... in Ireland offer significant incentives to companies who locate their activities in Ireland. A well-known global company [Accenture in 2009] recently moved the ownership and exploitation of an IP portfolio worth approximately $7 billion to Ireland.
The tax deduction can be used to achieve an effective tax rate of 2.5% on profits from the exploitation of the IP purchased [via the CAIA scheme]. Provided the IP is held for five years, a subsequent disposal of the IP will not result in a clawback.
Enhancement of the Irish onshore IP regime: ... The minimum IP-related profits that must be subject to the Irish corporate tax trading rate of 12.5% will be reduced from 20% to 0%. This will have the effect of reducing the minimum effective tax rate on IP-related profits from 2.5% to 0%.
Intangible assets – 80% cap reinstated. ... This gives an effective 2.5% corporate tax rate on such IP derived income
Structure 1: The profits of the Irish company will typically be subject to the corporation tax rate of 12.5% if the company has the requisite level of substance to be considered trading. The tax depreciation and interest expense can reduce the effective rate of tax to a minimum of 2.5%.
Apple is Ireland's largest company, with Irish 2017 revenues that exceed the combined Irish 2017 revenues of the next 5 largest Irish companies added together. Apple has been in Ireland since at least December 1980, when it opened its first Irish plant in Holyhill, in Cork. Apple's tax strategies with Irish BEPS tools had long been under suspicion by tax academics and investigative journalists.
In May 2013, Apple's Irish tax practices were questioned by a U.S. bipartisan investigation of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation. The investigation aimed to examine whether Apple used offshore structures, in conjunction with arrangements, to shift profits from the U.S. to Ireland. Senators Carl Levin and John McCain drew light on what they referred to as a special tax arrangement between Apple and Ireland which allowed Apple to pay a corporate tax rate of less than 2%. The investigation labelled Ireland as the "holy grail of tax avoidance".
In June 2014, the EU Commission launched an investigation into Apple's tax practices in Ireland for the period 2004–2014, whose summary findings were published on 30 August 2016 in a 4–page press release; with a 130–page report, including partially redacted information on Apple's Irish business (e.g. profits, employees, Board minutes etc.), published on 30 August 2016.
In July 2020, the European General Court (EGC) ruled that the EU Commission "did not succeed in showing to the requisite legal standard" that Apple had received tax advantages from Ireland, and overturned the findings against Apple.
In February 2014, as a result of Bloomberg's Special Investigation and Trinity College Professor Dr. Jim Stewart's ETR calculations (see above), the "architect" of Ireland's Double Irish BEPS tool, PricewaterhouseCoopers tax-partner Feargal O'Rourke, went on RTÉ Radio to state that: "there was a hole the size of the Grand Canyon", in the analysis. O'Rourke also referenced the PricewaterhouseCoopers/World Bank survey that Ireland's ETR was circa 12%.
In December 2014, the Irish Department of Finance, gathered a panel of Irish experts (but no international experts) to estimate Irish corporate ETR for the Committee on Finance Public Expenditure. The results, summarised on Section 2 (page 13) of the report, showed all of the Irish experts, with the exception of Dr. Jim Stewart, agreed with Feargal O'Rourke and PricewaterhouseCoopers:
In August 2016, when the EU Commission published the results of their 2–year detailed investigation of Apple's tax structure in Ireland (see above), showing that Apple's ETR in 2014 was 0.005%, the Irish Revenue Commissioners stated that they: "had collected the full amount of tax that was due from Apple in accordance with the Irish law".
In December 2017, the Department of Finance published a report they commissioned on the Irish corporate tax code by UCC economist, Seamus Coffey. The report estimated that Ireland's effective corporation tax rate for 2015 was 7.2%, based on the Net Operating Surplus Method (which accepts IP BEPS flows as tax deductible costs); and had fallen from 11.2% in 2008 (section 9.4 page 128).
An Irish corporate tax inversion is a strategy in which a foreign multinational corporation acquires or merges with an Irish–based company, then shifts its legal place of incorporation to Ireland to avail itself of Ireland's favourable corporate tax regime. The multinational's majority ownership, effective headquarters and executive management remain in its home jurisdiction. Ireland's corporate tax code has a holding company regime that enables the foreign multinational's new Irish–based legal headquarters, to gain full Irish tax-relief on Irish withholding taxes and payment of dividends from Ireland.
Almost all tax inversions to Ireland have come from the US, and to a lesser degree, the UK (see below). The first US tax inversions to Ireland were Ingersoll Rand and Accenture 2009. As of November 2018, Ireland was the destination for the largest US corporate tax inversion in history, the $81 billion merger of Medtronic and Covidien in 2015. The US tax code's anti-avoidance rules prohibit a US company from creating a new "legal" headquarters in Ireland while its main business is in the US (known as a "self-inversion"). Until April 2016, the US tax code would only consider the inverted company as foreign (i.e. outside the U.S. tax-code), where the inversion was part of an acquisition, and the Irish target was at least 20% of the value of the combined group. Although the Irish target had to be over 40% of the combined group for the inversion to be fully considered as outside of the U.S. tax-code.
Once inverted, the US company can use Irish multinational BEPS strategies to achieve an effective tax rate well below the Irish headline rate of 12.5% on non–U.S. income, and also reduce US taxes on US income. In September 2014, Forbes magazine quoted research that estimated a US inversion to Ireland reduced the US multinational's aggregate tax rate from above 30% to well below 20%.
Intellectual Property: The effective corporation tax rate can be reduced to as low as 2.5% for Irish companies whose trade involves the exploitation of intellectual property. The Irish IP regime is broad and applies to all types of IP. A generous scheme of capital allowances ... in Ireland offer significant incentives to companies who locate their activities in Ireland. A well-known global company [Accenture in 2009] recently moved the ownership and exploitation of an IP portfolio worth approximately $7 billion to Ireland.
In July 2015, The Wall Street Journal noted that Ireland's lower ETR made US multinationals who inverted to Ireland highly acquisitive of other US firms (i.e. they could afford to pay more to acquire US competitors to re-domicile them to Ireland), and listed the post-inversion acquisitions of Activis/Allergan, Endo, Mallinckrodt and Horizon.
In July 2017, the Irish Central Statistics Office (CSO) warned that tax inversions to Ireland artificially inflated Ireland's GDP data (e.g. without providing any Irish tax revenue).
Redomiciled PLCs in the Irish Balance of Payments: Conducting little or no real activity in Ireland, these companies hold substantial investments overseas. By locating their headquarters in Ireland, the profits of these PLC's are paid to them in Ireland, even though under double taxation agreements their tax liability arises in other jurisdictions. These profit inflows are retained in Ireland with a corresponding outflow only arising when a dividend is paid to the foreign owner.
As of November 2018[update], Bloomberg ranks Ireland as the most popular destination for U.S. tax inversions, attracting almost a quarter of the 85 inversions since 1983:
|Destination||Total||Last inversion||Notable U.S. corporate tax inversions to the destination|
|Ireland||21||2016||Johnson Controls||Largest U.S. inversion in history, Medtronic (2015); plus 3rd Johnson (2016), 4th Eaton (2012), and 6th Perrigo (2013).|
|Bermuda||19||2015||C&J Energy Services|
|England||11||2016||CardTronics||Post 2009–12 overhaul of tax-code, attracted the 2nd–largest U.S. inversion in history, Liberty Global (2013).|
|Canada||8||2016||Waste Connections||Attracted the 5th–largest U.S. inversion in history, Burger King (2014).|
|The Cayman Islands||5||2014||Theravance Biopharma|
|British Virgin Islands||1||2003||Michael Kors Ltd.|
|Panama||1||1983||McDermott International||Attracted the first U.S. inversion in history, McDermott International (1983).|
As of November 2018[update], the table below is the Bloomberg list of the 21 U.S. corporate tax inversions to Ireland (note, Bloomberg lists U.S. corporate tax inversions by order of the year in which they first left the U.S. which is used below). The table also includes some known aborted U.S. tax inversions to Ireland. All of the U.S. multinationals listed below are listed on stock exchanges and the Market Capitalisation is as per 21 November 2018. "Spin-off inversions" and "self-inversions" happen outside of the U.S. (e.g. the corporate/corporate parent had previously left the U.S.), and thus do not need an acquisition of an Irish—based corporate to execute the move to Ireland, as per U.S. tax code requirements (see above).
|U.S. multinational||Irish inversion||Current H.Q.[y]||Comment and reference|
|Name||U.S. base||Mkt. Cap.
|Left U.S.||Irish move||Irish target||Price|
|Pfizer||New York||252.6||Aborted||Aborted||Actavis Plc/Allergan[n]||160.0||New York||Pfizer aborted their 2016 inversion due to changes in the U.S. tax code.|
|Johnson Controls||Wisconsin||30.8||2016||2016||Tyco International||16.5||Ireland||3rd—largest U.S. tax inversion in history|
|Adient Plc||Michigan||2.1||2016||2016||("Spin-off inversion")||—||Ireland||"Spin-off inversion" from Johnson / Tyco inversion (2016).|
|Medtronic Plc||Minnesota||124.5||2015||2015||Covidien plc||42.9||Ireland||Largest U.S. tax inversion in history.|
|Horizon Pharma Plc||Illinois||3.4||2014||2014||Vidara Therapeutic||0.66||Ireland||Bought four other U.S. firms post-inversion.|
|Endo International||Pennsylvania||2.8||2014||2014||Paladin Labs[z]||1.6||Ireland||Acquired Canadian Paladin and "self-inverted" to Ireland.|
|Chiquita||North Carolina||Private||Aborted||Aborted||Fyffes||1.3||North Carolina||Chiquita aborted their inversion with Irish-based Fyffes.|
|Perrigo plc||Michigan||8.2||2013||2013||Elan Corporation||8.6||Ireland||6th—largest U.S. tax inversion in history.|
|Mallinckrodt Plc||Missouri||2.3||2013||2013||Cadence Pharma||1.3||Ireland||Acquired U.S Questcor for $5.6 bn in 2014.|
|Allegion Plc||Indiana||8.4||2013||2013||("Spin-off Inversion")||—||Ireland||"Spin-off inversion" from Irish—based Ingersoll-Rand.|
|Actavis Plc/Allergan[n]||New Jersey||52.1[aa]||2013||2013||Warner Chilcott||5.0||Ireland||Activis merged with Irish—based Allergan for $70 bn (2015).[n]|
|Pentair Plc||Minnesota||7.2||2012||2014||("Self Inversion")||—||UK||Inverted to Switzerland (2012), Ireland (2014), then UK (2016).|
|Jazz Pharmaceuticals||California||8.2||2012||2012||Azur Pharma Ltd||0.5||Ireland||Inverted with privately owned Azur Pharma Limited.|
|Eaton Corp. Plc||Ohio||31.6||2012||2012||Cooper Industries||11.8||Ireland||4th—largest U.S. tax inversion in history.|
|Alkermes Plc||Massachusetts||5.2||2011||2011||Elan Drug Tech.||0.96||Ireland||Inverted with a division of Elan Corporation, Elan Drug Technologies.|
|Covidien Plc||Massachusetts||—[ab]||2007||2007||("Spin-off Inversion")||—||Ireland||"Spin-off inversion" from Tyco (2014), bought by Medtronic (2015).|
|Global Indemnity Plc||Pennsylvania||0.5||2003||2013||("Self Inversion")||—||Cayman||"Self-inverted" to Ireland (2013), The Caymans (2016).|
|Weatherford Intl. Plc||Texas||0.6||2002||2014||("Self Inversion")||—||Ireland||Inverted to Bermuda (2002), Swiss (2008), Ireland (2014).|
|Cooper Industries||Texas||—[ac]||2002||2009||("Self Inversion")||—||Ireland||Inverted to Bermuda (2002), Ireland (2009), bought by Eaton (2012).|
|Ingersoll Rand Plc||North Carolina||24.6||2001||2009||("Self Inversion")||—||Ireland||Inverted to Bermuda (2001), and Ireland (2009).|
|Accenture Plc||Illinois||101.4||2001||2009||("Self Inversion")||—||Ireland||First inversion to Ireland; originally Bermuda (2001).|
|Seagate Technology||California||12.1||2002||2010||("Self Inversion")||—||Ireland||Inverted to The Caymans (2002), and Ireland (2010).|
|Tyco International||New Hampshire||—[ad]||1997||2014||("Self Inversion")||—||Ireland||Inverted to Bermuda (1997), Ireland (2014).|
In April 2016, the Obama administration announced new tax rules to increase the threshold for a U.S. corporate tax inversion to be considered a "foreign company", and thus escape U.S. taxation. The new rules were directly designed to block the proposed $160 billion merger of U.S.–based Pfizer and Irish–based Allergan, which would have been the largest corporate tax inversion in history. The rule changes worked by disregarding acquisitions a target (e.g. Allergan), had made in the 3 years prior to the inversion, in meeting the requirement for the target to be 40% of the merged group.
In December 2017, the Trump administration's U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) overhauled the U.S. tax-code and replicated many of the changes the UK made to their tax-code in 2009–2012 to successfully combat inversions (see below). In particular, the TCJA moved the U.S to a hybrid–"territorial tax" system,[i] reduced the headline rate from 35% to 21% and introduced a new GILTI–FDII–BEAT regime designed to remove incentives for U.S. multinationals to execute corporate tax inversions to Ireland.
In December 2017, U.S technology firm Vantiv, the world's largest payment processing company, confirmed it had abandoned its plan to execute a corporate tax inversion to Ireland. In Q1 2018, Pfizer disclosed that post the TCJA its global tax rate for 2019 would be 17%, similar to the circa 15–16% 2019 tax rate of past U.S. corporate tax inversions to Ireland, Eaton, Allergan, and Medtronic. In March 2018, the Head of Life Sciences in Goldman Sachs, Jami Rubin, stated that: "Now that [U.S.] corporate tax reform has passed, the advantages of being an inverted company are less obvious". In August 2018, U.S. multinational Afilias, who had been headquartered in Ireland since 2001, announced that as a result of the TCJA, it was moving back to the U.S.
As of November 2018[update], there have been no further U.S. corporate tax inversions to Ireland since the 2016–2017 rule changes by the Obama, and the Trump administrations.
Apple's Q1 2015 re-structure of their Irish BEPS tool, is considered by some economists to be a quasi–inversion. Whereas Apple did not relocate its corporate headquarters to Ireland like Pfizer tried to do with Allergan, Apple was able to use the CAIA BEPS tool to legally re-locate $300 billion of IP, equivalent to all of Apple's non–U.S. business, to Ireland. While the Obama administration blocked the proposed $160 billion Pfizer–Allergan tax inversion to Ireland in 2016 (see above), Apple completed a much larger transaction in Q1 2015, that remained unknown until January 2018. In July 2018, Irish newspaper The Sunday Business Post reported that Microsoft was planning a similar IP–based quasi–inversion to Ireland, as Apple executed in 2015.
Ireland's largest law firm, Authur Cox,[x] records the move of Experian plc to Ireland in 2006, as the first UK corporate tax inversion to Ireland. Experian was formed in 2006 from the de-merger of UK conglomerate GUS plc, but most of Experian's business was U.S. based (e.g. it had a limited connection to the UK).
Between 2007 and 2009, several UK multinationals "re-domiciled" to Ireland: WPP plc, United Business Media plc, Henderson Group plc, Shire plc and Charter (Engineering) plc. Unlike the U.S. tax code, the UK tax-code did not require the inversion to be executed by way of an acquisition of an Irish–based corporate who was at least 20% of the merged group. However, in 2009, the UK Labour government switched to a "territorial tax" system, and over 2009 to 2012, the UK Conservative government introduced a number of other corporate tax reforms including reduction of the UK headline CT rate to 20%, creation of new BEPS tools (e.g. a patent box), and re-structure of "controlled foreign corporation" (CFC) rules. By 2014, the UK HMRC reported that most of the UK multinationals that had inverted to Ireland had either returned to the UK (e.g., WPP plc, United Business Media plc, Henderson plc), or were about to be acquired by U.S. multinationals as part of a U.S. tax inversion (e.g. Shire plc[o]).
The UK corporate tax reforms not only reversed many of Irish tax inversions but in 2014, The Wall Street Journal reported that "In U.S. tax inversion Deals, U.K. is now a winner". As of November 2018[update], the UK had received the 3rd–largest number of U.S. corporate tax inversions in history, only ranking behind Ireland and Bermuda in popularity (see above).
As of November 2018[update], there have been no further UK corporate tax inversions to Ireland since the 2009–2012 rule changes by the Labour, and the Conservative governments.
Ireland's largest law firm, Authur Cox,[x] records the move of Pentair to Ireland in 2014, as the first Swiss corporate tax inversion to Ireland. However, Pentair was a U.S.–controlled firm that had previously inverted to Switzerland, and moved to Ireland (without a corporate acquisition), in 2014 to make it more attractive to a larger U.S. corporate tax inversion, which Emerson Electric attempted in 2016, however the change in the U.S. tax-code (see above), meant that Emmerson decided to abandon the inversion, and instead purchased a division of called Pentair Valves for $3.15 billion; the renaming Pentair group re-domiciled to the UK in 2018.
As of November 2018[update], outside of U.S. and UK inversions to Ireland, there have been no other recorded corporate tax inversions to Ireland from other jurisdictions.
Ireland is labelled a both a corporate tax haven, due to its BEPS tools (e.g. Double Irish, Single Malt and CAIA), and a traditional tax haven, due to QIAIFs. The topic is covered in more detail in Ireland as a tax haven, however, the main facts regarding Ireland's corporate tax haven status are:
Ireland does not appear on the 2017 OECD list of tax havens; only Trinidad and Tobago is on the 2017 OECD list, and no OECD member has ever been listed. Ireland does not appear on the 2017 EU list of 17 tax havens, or the EU's list of 47 "greylist" tax havens; again, no EU-28 country has ever been listed by the EU.
In September 2008, The New York Times reported that "Britain is facing a potential new problem: an exodus of British companies fleeing the tax system". During 2007–2008, several major UK multinationals executed corporate tax inversions to Ireland. During 2009–2012, both the Labour Government and the Conservative Government, overhauled the UK corporate tax code, switching from a "worldwide tax" system to a "territorial tax" system. By 2014, the UK HMRC reported most of the UK firms that inverted to Ireland had returned to the UK (e.g., WPP plc, United Business Media plc, Henderson plc), or were about to be acquired by U.S. multinationals as part of a U.S. tax inversion (e.g. Shire plc[o]).
As of November 2018[update], since the UK overhauled its tax code, there have been no inversions of UK firms to Ireland; of the 3 main UK–controlled firms in Ireland (see Table 1):
While national tax policy is excluded from EU treaties, the EU has challenged Ireland's tax code under State-aid legislation. Seamus Coffey's 2016 Review of Ireland's Corporation Tax Code chronicled how the EU withdrew the exemption from State-aid rules for Ireland's special tax rate of 10% in 1996–1998, however, Ireland countered the EU withdrawal by lowering the entire Irish standard rate of corporate tax from 40% to 12.5% over 1996–2003 (see § Historical rates (1994–2018)). In October 1994, the Financial Times chronicled how the EU Commission forced the closure of the Double Irish BEPS tool in 2015 on the threat of a full State-aid investigation into Ireland's tax code. However, Ireland won a concession from the EU to allow existing users of the Double Irish (e.g. Google, Facebook, Microsoft) to keep using it until 2020, and developed replacement BEPS tools, namely the Single Malt and CAIA BEPS tools. In August 2016, the EU Commission levied the largest corporate tax fine in history, on Apple's Irish Double Irish BEPS tool from 2004 to 2014, using State-aid rules.
In January 2017, the EU Commissioner for Taxation, Pierre Moscovici, explicitly stated to an Irish State Oireachtas Finance Committee that "Ireland is not a tax haven"; however, in January 2018 Moscovi called Ireland and the Netherlands "tax black holes". In January 2018, Ireland was accused of "tax dumping" by German political leaders.
In March 2018, the EU Commission proposed a "Digital Services Tax" (DST), targeted at U.S. technology firms using Irish BEPS tools. The DST is designed to "override" Ireland's BEPS tools and force a minimum level of EU tax on U.S. technology firms. The EU have proposed the DST should be a 3% tax on revenues which would translate into an effective 10–15% tax rate (using pre-tax margins of 20–30% for Apple, Google and Microsoft); it is also expensible against national tax, and so the DST would reduce net Irish tax (e.g. Google Ireland would offset its DST against Irish CT).
In April 2018, the EU Commission's GDPR rules forced Facebook to move 1.5 billion of the 1.9 billion Facebook accounts hosted in Ireland ( 79% of the 2.4 billion total global Facebook accounts), back to the U.S. The April 2018 Irish High Court ruling in the Max Schrems EU data-protection case could make Ireland even less attractive to Facebook.
The U.S. has had a contradictory approach to Ireland's CT system. U.S. investigations, from the first U.S. IRS study in 1981,[q] up to and including 2013 U.S. McCain–Levin Senate investigations into Apple's tax structures, label Ireland as a "tax haven" for U.S. multinationals. However, it was the EU and not the U.S., that forced Ireland to close its Double Irish BEPS tool in 2015. While the Obama administration supported the McCain–Levin findings on Apple, it came to Apple's defense in 2016 when the EU Commission fined Apple €13 billion for taxes avoided over 2004–2014.
This contradiction is chronicled in "political compromises". The source of the contradiction is ascribed to the findings of U.S. tax academic, James R. Hines Jr.; Hines is the most cited author on tax haven research, and his important 1994 Hines–Rice paper was one of the first to use the term "profit shifting". The 1994 Hines–Rice paper showed that low foreign tax rates [from tax havens] ultimately enhance U.S. tax collections. Hines' insight that the U.S. is the largest beneficiary from tax havens was confirmed by others, and dictated U.S. policy towards tax havens, including the 1996 "check-the-box"[ae] rules, and U.S. hostility to OECD attempts in curbing Ireland's BEPS tools.[af]
However, by 2014 Ireland had become the leading destination for U.S. corporate tax inversions, and in 2016, the Obama administration decided to move against Ireland's CT system by amending the U.S. tax-code to block the proposed $160 billion Pfizer–Allergan Irish corporate tax inversion, which would have been the largest tax inversion in history.
The most serious threat to Ireland's CT system, and Ireland's economic model came in December 2017 with the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) by the Trump administration. Parts of the TCJA are specifically targeted at Irish BEPS tools as used by U.S. multinationals in Ireland. The TCJA introduces many of the changes that the UK made to its tax code in 2009–2012, including moving to a "territorial tax" system and reduction of headline rate of tax; the UK changes reversed many of the UK corporate tax inversions to Ireland. However the TCJA goes even further and the GILTI–FDII–BEAT tax regime are a more severe "carrot and stick" to encourage U.S. multinationals to re-locate their substantive operations (and IP), back to the U.S.
The above post–2009 UK, EU and U.S. countermeasures against Ireland's corporate tax system, and by extension Ireland's economic model, have been a cause of concern in Ireland, and even the "architect" of Ireland's BEPS tools, PricewaterhouseCoopers tax-partner, Feargal O'Rourke, has warned on the sustainability of Irish CT revenues.
In December 2017, the Irish Government published a study on the sustainability of its corporate tax system by University College Cork economist Seamus Coffey (called the Coffey Report). Coffey reported that Irish CT revenues were sustainable to 2020, but caveated that given the concentration of CT revenues to a handful of U.S. multinationals, a shock to CT revenues was "inevitable".
In Q2 2018, an IMF country report on Ireland, while noting the significant exposure of Ireland's economy to U.S. corporates, concluded that the TCJA may not be as effective as Washington expects in countering Ireland as a U.S. corporate tax haven. In writing its report, the IMF conducted confidential anonymous interviews with Irish corporate tax experts.
However, in June 2018, the former IMF mission-chief for Ireland Ashoka Mody, who oversaw Ireland's bailout during the 2009–2012 Irish financial crisis, warned that in relation to TCJA:
He said the Irish economy won't cope with radical changes to international tax rules, which will dent our attractiveness to multinationals. The dire warning of a massive threat to our economy is contained in a hard-hitting new book from the former head of the IMF's mission to Ireland. 'Without its low-tax regime, Ireland will find it hard to sustain economic momentum,' he said.
A 'special rate' of 10% for companies in manufacturing (and the Shannon Free Zone), was introduced in 1980–81 (with EU State-aid approval), and extended to the financial services in the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) zone in 1987 (with EU State-aid approval); due to EU decision to withdraw EU State-aid approval in 1996–1998, the special rate was phased-out and ended on 31 December 2003 for new schemes, with expiry for all existing IFSC schemes in 2005, and all existing manufacturing schemes by 2010. To counter the EU's decision to withdraw State-aid approval for Ireland's special rate, the Irish State reduced the Irish standard rate of corporation tax from 40% in 1995, to 12.5% by 2003; splitting the standard rate into trading and non-trading rates in 2000.
|Post–2000 Standard Rate||Pre–2000
Ireland's corporate tax code has gone through distinct phases of development, from building a separate identity from the British system, to most distinctively, post the creation of the Irish International Financial Services Centre ("IFSC") in 1987, becoming a "low tax" knowledge based (i.e. focus intgangible assets) multinational economy. This has not been without controversy and complaint from both Ireland's EU partners, and also from the US (whose multinationals, for specific reasons, comprise almost all of the major foreign multinationals in Ireland).
It was only with the acceptance of the Anglo-Irish Treaty by both the Dáil and British House of Commons in 1922 that the mechanisms of a truly independent state begin to emerge in the Irish Free State. In keeping with many other decisions of the newly independent state the Provisional Government and later the Free State government continued with the same practices and policies of the Irish administration with regard to corporate taxation.
This continuation meant that the British system of "corporate profits taxation" ("CPT") in addition to income tax on the profits of firms was kept. The CPT was a relatively new innovation in the United Kingdom and had only been introduced in the years after World War I, and was widely believed at the time to have been a temporary measure. However, the system of firms being taxed firstly through income tax and then through the CPT was to remain until the late seventies and the introduction of Corporation Tax, which combined the income and corporation profits tax in one.
During the years of W. T. Cosgrave's governments, the principal aim with regard to fiscal policy was to reduce expenditure and follow that with similar reductions in taxation. This policy of tax reduction did not extend to the rate of the CPT, but companies did benefit from two particular measures of the Cosgrave government. Firstly, and probably the achievement of which the Cumann na nGaedheal administration was most proud, was the reduction by 50% in the rate of income tax from 6 shillings in the pound to 3 shillings. While this measure benefited all income earners, be they private individuals or incorporated companies, a number of adjustments in the Finance Acts, culminating in 1928, increased the allowance on which firms were not subject to taxation under the CPT. This allowance was increased from £500, the rate at the time of independence, to £10,000 in 1928. This measure was in part to compensate Irish firms for the continuation of the CPT after it has been abolished in the United Kingdom.
A measure which marked the last years of the Cumann na nGaedheal government, and one that was out of kilter with their general free trade policy, but which came primarily as a result of Fianna Fáil pressure over the 'protection' of Irish industry, was the introduction of a higher rate of CPT for foreign firms. This measure survived until 1948, when the Inter-Party government rescinded it, as many countries with which the government was attempting to come to double taxation treaties viewed it as discriminatory.
The near twenty years of Fianna Fáíl government between from 1931 to 1948, cannot be said to have been a time where much effort was expended on changing or analysing the taxation system of corporations. Indeed, only one policy sticks out during those year of Fianna Fáil rule; being the continued reduction in the level of the allowance on which firms were to be exempt from taxation under the CPT, from £10,000 when Cumman na nGaehael left office, to £5,000 in 1932 and finally to £2,500 in 1941. The impact of this can be seen in the increasing importance of CPT as a percentage of government revenue, rising from and less than 1% of tax revenue in the first decade of the Free State to 3.64% in the decade 1942–43 to 1951–52. This increase in revenue from the CPT was due to more firms being in the tax net, as well as the reduction in allowances. The increased tax net can be seen from the fact that between 1932–33 and 1938–39, the number of firms paying CPT increased by over 33%. One other aspect of the Fianna Fáil government which bears all the fingerprints of Seán Lemass, was the 1946 decision to allow mining companies to write off all capital expenditure against tax over five years.
The period between after the late 1950s and up to the mid-1970s can be viewed as a period of radical change in the evolution of the Irish Corporate Taxations system. The increasing realisation of the government that Ireland would be entering into an age of increasing free trade encouraged a number of reforms of the tax system. By the mid-1970s, a number of amendments, additions and changes had been made to the CPT, these included fifteen-year tax holidays for exporting firms, the decision by the government to allow full depreciation in 1971 and in 1973, and the Section 34 of the Finance Act, which allowed total tax relief in respect of royalties and other income from licenses patented in Ireland.
This period from c.1956 to c.1975, is probably the most influential on the evolution of the Irish corporate tax system and marked the development of an 'Irish' corporate tax system, rather than continuing with a version of the British model.
This period saw the creation of Corporation Tax, which combined the Capital Gains, Income and Corporation Profits Tax that firms previously had to pay. Future changes to the corporate tax system, such as the measures implemented by various governments over the last twenty years can be seen as a continuation of the policies of this period. The introduction in 1981 of the 10% tax on manufacturing was simply the easiest way to adjust to the demands of the EEC to abolish the export relief, which the EEC viewed as discriminatory. With the accession to the EEC, the advantages of this policy became increasingly obvious to both the Irish government and to foreign multi-nationals; by 1982 over 80% of companies who located in Ireland cited the taxation policy as the primary reason they did so.
The Irish International Financial Services Centre ("IFSC") was created in Dubin in 1987 by Taoiseach Charles Haughey with an EU approved 10% special economic zone corporate tax rate for global financial firms within its 11-hectare site. The creation of the IFSC is often considered the birth of the Celtic Tiger and the driver of its first phase of growth in the 1990s.
In response to EU pressure to phase out the 10% IFSC rate by the end 2005, the overall Irish corporation tax was reduced to 12.5% on trading income, from 32%, effectively turning the entire Irish country into an IFSC. This gave the second boost to the Celtic Tiger from 2000 up until the Irish economic crisis in 2009.
In the 1998 Budget (in December 1997) Finance Minister, Charlie McCreevy introduced the legislation for a new regime of corporation tax that led to the introduction of the 12.5% rate of corporation tax for trading income from 1 January 2003. The legislation was contained in section 71 of the Finance Act 1999 and provided for a phased introduction of the 12.5% rate from 32% for the financial year 1998 to 12.5% commencing from 1 January 2003. A higher rate of corporation tax of 25% was introduced for passive income, income from a foreign trade and some development and mining activities. Manufacturing relief, effectively a 10% rate of corporation tax, was ended on 31 December 2002. For companies that were claiming this relief before 23 July 1998, it would still be available until 31 January 2010. The 10% rate for IFSC activities ended on 31 December 2005 and after this date, these companies moved to the 12.5% rate provided their trade qualified as an Irish trading activity.
The additional passing of the important Irish Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997 ("TCA") by Charlie McCreevy laid the foundation for the new vehicles and structures that would become used by IFSC law and accounting firms to help global multinationals use Ireland as a platform to avoid non-US taxes (and even the 12.5% Irish corporate tax rate). These vehicles would become famous as the Double Irish, Single Malt and the Capital Allowances for Intangible Assets tax arrangements. The Act also created the Irish Section 110 SPV, which would make the IFSC the largest securitisation location in the EU.
The Irish financial crises created unprecedented forces in the Economy. Irish banks, the largest domestic corporate taxpayers, faced insolvency, while Irish public and private debt-to-GDP metrics approached the highest levels in the OECD. The Irish Government needed foreign capital to re-balance their overleveraged economy. Directly, and indirectly, they amended many Irish corporate tax structures from 2009 to 2015 to effectively make them "zero-tax" structures for foreign multinationals and foreign investors. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis ("BEA") "effective" Irish CT rate, fell to 2.5%.
They materially expanded the capital allowances for intangible assets scheme in the 2009 Finance Act. This would encourage US multinationals to locate intellectual property assets in Ireland (as opposed to the Caribbean, as per the double Irish scheme), which would albeit artificially, raise Irish economic statistics to improve Ireland's "headline" Debt-to-GDP metric. They also indirectly, allowed US distressed debt funds to use the Irish Section 110 SPV to enable them to avoid Irish taxes on the circa €100bn of domestic Irish assets they bought from NAMA (and other financial institutions) from 2012 to 2016.
While these BEPS schemes were successful in capital, they had downsides. US multinational tax schemes lead to large distortions in Irish GNI/GNP/GDP statistics. When Apple "onshored" their ASI subsidiary in January 2015, it caused Irish GDP to rise 26.3% in one quarter ("leprechaun economics"). Foreign multinationals were now 80% of corporate taxes, and concentrated in a smaller group. In response, the Government introduced "modified GNI" (or GNI*) in 2017, which was circa 40% below 2017 Irish GDP, and a paired back of some BEPS schemes to improve corporation tax sustainability.
Ireland's BEPS tax strategy led it to become labelled as one of the top 5 global conduit OFCs, and has come under attack from the US and the EU (Apple's largest tax fine in history). Under pressure from the EU, Ireland closed down the double Irish in 2015, which was described as the largest tax avoidance scheme in history. However, Ireland replaced it with the new single malt system, and an expanded capital allowances scheme. More targeted responses have come in the form of the US 2017 TCJA (esp. FDII and GILTI rates), and the EU's 2018 impending Digital Services Tax.
New Gabriel Zucman study claims State shelters more multinational profits than the entire Caribbean
Research conducted by academics at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Copenhagen estimated that foreign multinationals moved €90 billion of profits to Ireland in 2015 — more than all Caribbean countries combined.
Appendix Table 2: Tax Havens
Jurisdictions with the largest financial systems relative to GDP (Exhibit 2-3) tend to have relatively larger OFI [or Shadown Banking] sectors: Luxembourg (at 92% of total financial assets), the Cayman Islands (85%), Ireland (76%) and the Netherlands (58%)
Figure 3. Foreign Direct Investment - Over half of Irish outbound FDI is routed to Luxembourg
However, in recent times, it is Ireland's treatment of profits made by foreign subsidiaries of Irish resident companies that has been attracting attention and encouraging, in particular, UK firms to move their holding companies to Ireland and become tax resident there in order to reduce their tax burden.
Figure A.1: share of tax revenue 2000-2017, per cent
The simple popular story is that Ireland used its 12.5 percent low corporate tax rate, and tax loopholes, to attract foreign multinational corporations, and built the so-called "Celtic Tiger" Irish economic boom on the back of that, helping Ireland become the single largest location outside the US for the declared pre-tax profits of U.S. firms.
ABSTRACT: Per capita real GDP in tax haven countries grew at an average annual rate of 3.3 percent between 1982 and 1999, which compares favorably to the world average of 1.4 percent.
Germany taxes only 5% of the active foreign business profits of its resident corporations. ... Furthermore, German firms do not have incentives to structure their foreign operations in ways that avoid repatriating income. Therefore, the tax incentives for German firms to establish tax haven affiliates are likely to differ from those of U.S. firms and bear strong similarities to those of other G–7 and OECD firms.
In an interview with the Observer, the Irish singer says his country's tax policies have 'brought our country the only prosperity we've known'. Bono said: 'We are a tiny little country, we don't have scale, and our version of scale is to be innovative and to be clever, and tax competitiveness has brought our country the only prosperity we've known'. 'That's how we got these companies here ... We don't have natural resources, we have to be able to attract people.'
The losses to the US budget from corporate tax avoidance are now out of control. The US loses as much as $111 billion each year due to corporate tax dodging – and let's be honest, Ireland is implicated in a significant amount of this. ... This is arguably the biggest economic challenge facing Ireland over the next decade
Eurostat's structural business statistics give a range of measures of the business economy broken down by the controlling country of the enterprises. Here is the Gross Operating Surplus generated in Ireland in 2015 for the countries with figures reported by Eurostat.
The total value of US business investment in Ireland - ranging from data centres to the world's most advanced manufacturing facilities - stands at $387bn (€334bn) - this is more than the combined US investment in South America, Africa and the Middle East, and more than the BRIC countries combined.
Intellectual property (IP) has become the leading tax avoidance vehicle in the world today.
It focuses particularly on the dominant approach within the economics literature on income shifting, which dates back to Hines and Rice (1994) and which we refer to as the "Hines–Rice" approach.
Multinational companies have made such extensive use of Ireland to funnel royalties – a common way to shift profits and avoid tax – that these payments averaged 23 per cent of the country's annual gross domestic product between 2010 and 2015, according to an EU Commission report seen by the Financial Times.
Misleadingly, studies cited by the Irish Times and other outlets suggest that the effective tax rate is close to the headline 12.5 percent rate – but this is a fictional result based on a theoretical 'standard firm with 60 employees' and no exports: it is entirely inapplicable to transnationals. Though there are various ways to calculate effective tax rates, other studies find rates of just 2.5-4.5 percent.
Meanwhile, the tax rate reported by those Irish subsidiaries of U.S. companies plummeted to 3% from 9% by 2010
When combined with other features of Ireland's IP tax regime, an effective rate as low as 2.5% can be achieved on IP related income
Bloomberg Special Reports: Corporate Tax Inversions
We identify 41 countries and regions as tax havens for the purposes of U. S. businesses. Together the seven tax havens with populations greater than one million (Hong Kong, Ireland, Liberia, Lebanon, Panama, Singapore, and Switzerland) account for 80 percent of total tax haven population and 89 percent of tax haven GDP.
This selective treatment allowed Apple to pay an effective corporate tax rate of 1 per cent on its European profits in 2003 down to 0.005 per cent in 2014.
Brussels is challenging the 'Double Irish' tax avoidance measure prized by big U.S. tech and pharma groups, putting pressure on Dublin to close it down or face a full-blown investigation. .. The initial enquiries have signalled that Brussels wants Dublin to call time on the tax gambit, which has helped Ireland become a hub for American tech and pharma giants operating in Europe.
As a consequence of the overall scale of these additions, elements of the results that would previously been published are now suppressed to protect the confidentiality of the contributing companies, in accordance with the Statistics Act 1993
The grand architect of much of that success: Feargal O'Rourke, the scion of a political dynasty who heads the tax practice in PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Ireland
Global legal firm Baker McKenzie, representing a coalition of 24 multinational US software firms, including Microsoft, lobbied Michael Noonan, as [Irish] minister for finance, to resist the [OECD MLI] proposals in January 2017. In a letter to him the group recommended Ireland not adopt article 12, as the changes "will have effects lasting decades" and could "hamper global investment and growth due to uncertainty around taxation". The letter said that "keeping the current standard will make Ireland a more attractive location for a regional headquarters by reducing the level of uncertainty in the tax relationship with Ireland's trading partners"
Ireland has, more or less, stopped using GDP to measure its own economy. And on current trends [because Irish GDP is distorting EU–28 aggregate data], the eurozone taken as a whole may need to consider something similar.
Profit shifting also has a significant effect on trade balances. For instance, after accounting for profit shifting, Japan, the UK, France, and Greece turn out to have trade surpluses in 2015, in contrast to the published data that record trade deficits. According to our estimates, the true trade deficit of the United States was 2.1% of GDP in 2015, instead of 2.8% in the official statistics—that is, a quarter of the recorded trade deficit of the United States is an illusion of multinational corporate tax avoidance.
[In the Whitehouse advocating for the TCJA] Applying Hines and Rice's (1994) findings to a statutory corporate rate reduction of 15 percentage points (from 35 to 20 percent) suggests that reduced profit shifting would result in more than $140 billion of repatriated profit based on 2016 numbers.
The solution that they came up with was to move to a territorial tax system. The system now exempts the foreign profits earned by UK multinationals from British taxation. As such, British companies no longer had the incentive to invert at all because their foreign profits were treated the same whether they were domiciled in the UK or in the Netherlands.
In 2007 to 2009, WPP, United Business Media, Henderson Group, Shire, Informa, Regus, Charter and Brit Insurance all left the UK. By 2015, WPP, UBM, Henderson Group, Informa and Brit Insurance have all returned
Nevertheless the rise in [Irish] GNI is still very substantial because the additional income flows of the companies (interest and dividends) concerned are considerably smaller than the value added of their activities
Why, then, when we look at debt on a per-capita basis, is it still so high? Per person, the Irish are right up the top of the leaderboard, with government debt per person of $45,941 (€43,230) as of March 1st, behind only Japan ($80,465) and the US ($48,203).
In the late 1980s, Apple was among the pioneers in creating a tax structure – known as the Double Irish – that allowed the company to move profits into tax havens around the world
We also know that the cash component of that is about $1 trillion. Therefore, we know from this that we're not talking simply about foreign investment in real foreign assets because somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 trillion is in cash and cash equivalents
By our reckoning, the 500 largest U.S. nonfinancial companies have now accumulated around $1 trillion more than their businesses need. The majority of this is held offshore, in non-U.S. overseas subsidiaries, to avoid the incremental U.S. income taxes they would pay if they repatriated the money under current U.S. laws
Earlier this year, anti-poverty charity Oxfam had estimated U.S. companies had $1.4tn in subsidiaries based offshore, while the $1.68tn that Moody's estimates is being stashed by U.S. companies is a sum equivalent to the size of the Canadian economy
Ever hear of a Double Irish? It's not a drink, but one of the dodgy tax strategies that help American companies keep their profits nearly tax free abroad. Such strategies are at the heart of what may well turn out to be the most important corporate tax case in history
Two Years After the controversial 'double Irish' loophole was closed to new entrants, Google continued using the system to funnel billions in untaxed profits to Bermuda.
However, Mr O'Rourke, who is also a cousin of the late Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, told Bloomberg that changes in Ireland and across the globe on tax was inevitable. Mr O'Rourke was also a member of the Government's Commission on Taxation, which sat in 2008 and 2009.
Another sophisticated loophole in the tax system means the removal of the "Double Irish" tax-avoidance strategy won't actually have any real impact for U.S. firms in Ireland seeking to lower their tax bills. An influential U.S. tax journal has found that the Irish subsidiaries of U.S. companies can easily opt to use another loophole, known as the "check the box" rule, to enjoy the same tax benefits created by the Double Irish.
Pearse Doherty: It was interesting that when [MEP] Matt Carthy put that to the Minister's predecessor (Michael Noonan), his response was that this was very unpatriotic and he should wear the green jersey. That was the former Minister's response to the fact there is a major loophole, whether intentional or unintentional, in our tax code that has allowed large companies to continue to use the Double Irish [called Single Malt].
Prior to opening a Single Malt structure, Teleflex operated a Double Irish tax structure, according to Christian Aid. 'Since Teleflex set up its Double Irish structure, through this and [presumably] other tax strategies its global effective tax rate has dropped to just over 3 percent,' the NGO flagged.
Using a structure dubbed the 'single malt', some US multinationals have been using Irish-registered, Malta-resident, companies to cut tax liabilities in countries where they sell their goods and services. Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe confirmed on Tuesday that a new agreement between Revenue and the Maltese tax authorities will close the loophole.
The Irish arm of LinkedIn reported a 20 per cent rise in revenues last year and returned to the black, helped by the disposal of intellectual property assets to its parent Microsoft Ireland.
Intellectual Property: The effective corporation tax rate can be reduced to as low as 2.5% for Irish companies whose trade involves the exploitation of intellectual property. The Irish IP regime is broad and applies to all types of IP. A generous scheme of capital allowances in Ireland offers significant incentives to companies who locate their activities in Ireland. A well-known global company [Accenture in 2009] recently moved the ownership and exploitation of an IP portfolio worth approximately $7 billion to Ireland
Structure 1: The profits of the Irish company will typically be subject to the corporation tax rate of 12.5% if the company has the requisite level of substance to be considered trading. The tax depreciation and interest expense can reduce the effective rate of tax to a minimum of 2.5%
The initial announcement of the KDB came after the closure of the 'double Irish' tax loophole and while he does not see it as a knee-jerk reaction Ken Hardy, tax partner at KPMG believes it is an attempt to keep Ireland's tax scheme as competitive as possible. However, other European countries, including Germany, have warned that these incentives should only be used as a reward for R&D investment and not as a tax avoidance to
They'll do this by making commercial property investment, mainly by large foreign landlords, entirely tax free. This will drive up commercial rents, suppress residential development, put Irish banks at risk, and deprive the State of much-needed funds.
ESRB: Nonetheless, if not subject to adequate macro- and micro-prudential regulation, this activity could grow rapidly and introduce new sources of financial stability risk. It could also raise the financial system's vulnerability to runs, contagion, excessive credit growth and pro-cyclicality.
The use of private "unlimited liability company" (ULC) status, which exempts companies from filing financial reports publicly. The fact that Apple, Google, and many others continue to keep their Irish financial information secret is due to a failure by the Irish government to implement the 2013 EU Accounting Directive, which would require full public financial statements, until 2017, and even then retaining an exemption from financial reporting for certain holding companies until 2022
Local subsidiaries of multinationals must always be required to file their accounts on public record, which is not the case at present. Ireland is not just a tax haven at present, it is also a corporate secrecy jurisdiction.
They cannot have their regional headquarters located in a jurisdiction that--whether fairly or unfairly--has obtained a reputation for less-than-aboveboard business dealings. The label "tax haven" implies sunny beaches and shady business. If Ireland wants to continue to attract investment by the world's most respected companies, it desperately needs to avoid the tax haven label.
Ireland's effective tax rate on all foreign corporates (U.S. and non–U.S.) is 4%
Tax Havens by Most Cited
It is important to note that the most attractive aspect of [corporate] tax incentives offered by Ireland is not the [headline 12.5%] tax rate but the tax regime
A study by Dr Jim Stewart, associate professor in finance at Trinity College Dublin, suggests that in 2011 the subsidiaries of U.S. multinationals in Ireland paid an effective tax rate of 2.2 per cent.
Misleadingly, studies cited by the Irish Times and other outlets suggest that the effective tax rate is close to the headline 12.5 percent rate – but this is a fictional result based on a theoretical 'standard firm with 60 employees' and no exports: it is entirely inapplicable to transnationals. Though there are various ways to calculate effective tax rates, other studies find rates of just 2.5–4.5 percent.
Our corporation tax rate is 12.5 per cent, so they should be paying about €12 billion a year in tax. But they paid only €3.25 billion. This means that about almost €9 billion is missing because these companies use a myriad of loopholes to avoid even our low rates of tax.
Such profit shifting leads to a total annual revenue loss of $200 billion globally
The social media giant channelled €18.7 billion in revenue through its Irish subsidiary, an increase of 48 per cent from the €12.6 billion recorded in 2016. While gross profit amounted to €18.1 billion, administrative expenses of €17.8 billion meant profit before tax increased 44 per cent to €251 million.
This can result in an effective rate of tax of 2.5% (12.5% of 20%) on income arising from the exploitation of IP where tax depreciation for the capital spend on the acquisition of IP is fully utilised.
Multinational management consultancy Accenture is receiving tax relief on the $7bn (€5.4bn) it spent building up a portfolio of intellectual property rights. ... The Arthur Cox document, 'Uses of Ireland for German Companies', states: 'A well-known global company recently moved the ownership and exploitation of an intellectual property portfolio worth approximately $7bn to Ireland.'
The tax deduction can be used to achieve an effective tax rate of 2.5% on profits from the exploitation of the IP purchased. Provided the IP is held for five years, a subsequent disposal of the IP will not result in a clawback.
The minimum IP-related profits that must be subject to the Irish corporate tax trading rate of 12.5% will be reduced from 20% to 0%. This will have the effect of reducing the minimum effective tax rate on IP-related profits from 2.5% to 0%.
This gives an effective 2.5% corporate tax rate on such IP derived income.
A number of studies show that multinational corporations are moving "mobile" income out of the United States into low or no tax jurisdictions, including tax havens such as Ireland, Bermuda, and the Cayman Islands.
Senators LEVIN and McCAIN: Most reasonable people would agree that negotiating special tax arrangements that allow companies to pay little or no income tax meets a common-sense definition of a tax haven.
[Dr. Stewart] criticised the report's use of a single company for a host of countries across the world, telling RTÉ's Morning Ireland that the PWC report was based on a "fictitious or hypothetical" company, adding: You can't say we have an effective tax rate of 11.9 per cent. Fergal O'Rourke from PWC, however, defended his company's findings, saying that Stewart was counting companies incorporated in Ireland, but that had never operated here. "There's a hole the size of the Grand Canyon in the data.
Call it the ceramic flower pot dilemma. The headline rate of Irish corporation tax is 12.5 per cent, and calculations by PwC and the World Bank show the effective rate of tax levied on foreign company profits in Ireland is about 11.9 per cent. Yet a recent study by Jim Stewart, associate professor of finance at Trinity College Dublin, shows some US multinational subsidiaries operating in Ireland paid an effective rate of tax of just 2.2 per cent on their Irish activities in 2011. Prof Stewart argued that, in order for PwC and the World Bank to compare tax rates across the world, they created a hypothetical company that does not engage in tax planning, and was "small, domestically owned, has no imports or exports and produces and sells ceramic flower pots". Such a company bears no resemblance to the US multinationals that operate in Ireland, ranging from big pharma (Pfizer, Alexion) to big tech (Intel, Google, Apple, Facebook).
The Revenue Commissioners has insisted it always collected the full amount of tax due from Apple in accordance with Irish law.
Inversions are in essence, a financial exercise which allow companies to lower their tax bills by acquiring a legal address abroad. This is typically done by acquiring a company in a country which levies a lower rate of corporation tax.
Under a typical inversion deal, a United States company takes over a foreign counterpart and, in the process, shifts its headquarters overseas. The takeover targets for such deals are typically based in countries with low corporate taxes — like Ireland, with its 12.5 percent rate.
Currently, most inversions are structured as deal-related inversions rather than self-inversions because of the US anti-inversion rules in Section 7874 of the Internal Revenue Code (US anti-inversion rules) (see below US Anti-inversion Rules).
After a merger, if the shareholders of the former U.S. company own at least 80% of the combined firm, the government treats the new combined business as subject to U.S. taxes, basically negating the inversion, even if its address is abroad. If they own at least 60%, some restrictions apply but the company is still considered foreign. That's led companies to keep their inversions below 60%—and prompted the government to propose rules halting various techniques for doing so.
The U.S. company is in black, as is the share of the merged company its current shareholders will own; it must be less than 80% for the tax trick to work under the current law.
Horizon and other inverted companies are using their new, lower tax rates to turbocharge corporate takeovers. Applying those rates, often in the midteens, to profits of companies in the US, with a federal corporate rate of 35%, can yield extra savings on top of those traditionally wrung from mergers. Moreover, unlike the US, Ireland and most other countries, only tax profits earned in-country, giving companies the freedom and incentive to shift income to still-lower-tax jurisdictions.
The collapse of Pfizer's $160bn merger with Allergan on Wednesday brought the total value of abandoned deals this year to its highest since the eve of the financial crisis and sent shockwaves through corporate America. The decision to terminate the largest tax inversion deal in history marks a watershed victory for an interventionist Washington and left the US drugmaker scrambling to re-evaluate its strategy.
Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls has a market value $22.5 billion, while Cork, Ireland-based Tyco, which specializes in fire protection systems is valued at $14.2 billion. The deal will create savings of at least $500 million in the first three years, the companies said. They expect to save an additional $150 million a year through tax synergies.
Adient, which it is separated out at the end of October after paying a $3 billion net dividend back to Johnson Controls, will have a 10 per cent to 12 per cent effective company tax rate, compared to a 17 per cent for the group for the second quarter. The group rate is also expected to be lowered as a result of the Tyco deal.
U.S. medical device maker Medtronic Inc (MDT.N) said on Sunday it had agreed to buy Covidien Plc COV.N for $42.9 billion in cash and stock and move its executive base to Ireland in the latest transaction aiming for lower corporate tax rates abroad.
Horizon Pharma Inc (NDAQ:HZNP) agreed to acquire Vidara Therapeutics Inc. in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $660 million, as the specialty pharmaceutical company sought to expand its range of products. As part of the merger, the combined company will be named Horizon Pharma PLC and will be organized under the laws of Ireland. Horizon's current shareholders will own 74% of the merged company, and Vidara's shareholders will own about 26% of the company and receive $200 million in cash.
The complex deal structure will create a new Irish holding company, which will own both Endo and Paladin, to take advantage of Ireland's low tax rates.
The acquisitions were seen as a boon for Fyffes, which in 2014 failed in its bid to acquire Chiquita, the US banana company. Chiquita shareholders voted against a proposed merger of the two groups, which would have created the world's biggest banana group by sales. Chiquita shareholders ultimately approved a $1.3bn deal that handed the company to Brazil's Cutrale and Safra families.
DUBLIN, July 29, 2013 (Reuters) - U.S. drugmaker Perrigo agreed to buy Elan for $8.6 billion in a deal that will hand it tax savings from being domiciled in Ireland and royalties from a blockbuster multiple sclerosis treatment.
Lock-making giant Allegion, which owns brands such as Schlage, is the next Irish—based company tipped to be taken over as part of a tax inversion. The company was created only last year, when it was spun out of Ingersoll-Rand, a manufacturer of commercial equipment.
For a master class in mergers and acquisitions, one need only look at the company formerly known as Actavis. Now called Allergan, after its $70 billion acquisition of that maker of Botox last fall, the pharmaceutical firm has undertaken a dizzying series of deals in just the last few years, reinventing and renaming itself in a fashion that might make the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince proud.
Actavis sought to fend off takeover threats by purchasing Dublin-based rival Warner Chilcott in a $5bn deal designed to turn it into the world's third-largest generic drug company by sales. The agreed all-stock deal, worth $8.5bn including net debt, follows recent efforts by competitors including Valeant and Mylan to acquire Actavis. Analysts said the move could spark alternative bids for Actavis or Warner Chilcott at a time of rapid consolidation in the sector. ... The transaction will also exploit tax savings through the creation of a new Irish holding company, cutting Actavis' estimated 28 percent tax rate this year to 17 per cent and helping create annual synergies that the company said would exceed $400m.
And in 2012, the water technology company Pentair merged with Tyco Flow Control and "re-domiciled" its corporation from Golden Valley to Switzerland. That merger — accomplished through a tax-free "Reverse Morris Trust" — lowered Pentair's corporate tax rate from 29 to 24.6 percent. Determined to save even more, Pentair relocated again on June 3 from its Swiss headquarters to Ireland, which has a tax rate of roughly 12.5 percent.
The combined entity will trade as Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc and will be domiciled in Ireland.
(Reuters) - Diversified industrial manufacturer Eaton Corp (ETN.N) struck a deal to buy electrical equipment maker Cooper Industries Plc CBE.N for $11.8 billion in cash and stock and said it would shift its incorporation to Ireland to save on taxes.
Alkermes, an American biotechnology company, said on Monday that it would merge with Elan Drug Technologies in a cash-and-stock deal worth $960 million. Elan Drug is the drug-delivery arm of Elan Holdings, which is based in Dublin. The newly combined company, to be known as Alkermes, will also be incorporated in Ireland.
Management consultancy firm Accenture is the latest overseas company to move its headquarters here. Accenture has written to its shareholders asking them to approve the move from Bermuda, which is a tax haven. ... In a trend that has gained momentum over the past six months, numerous US companies are reincorporating from tax-friendly locations like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands to Switzerland and Ireland, in an effort to cope with what are expected to be significant changes in how the US taxes multinational corporations. Tyco International, Foster Wheeler, Weatherford International, Transocean, Covidien, and Ingersoll-Rand have all announced plans or finalised plans to make such moves over the past six months.
Weatherford International, a major oil field services contractor, left Houston in 2002 for Bermuda and moved to Zug in 2008.
For instance, Cleveland, Ohio's Eaton Corp Plc (ETN.N), a maker of power management products, in 2012 moved its tax domicile to low-tax Ireland by acquiring Cooper Industries, itself an inverted company that reincorporated from the United States to Bermuda in 2002 and then Dublin in 2009.
We are always innovating and coming up with new ways for our clients to achieve their commercial objectives. In the last number of years we have advised on: ... the first UK inversion to Ireland (Experian)
GUS's demerger document reveals Experian's corporate HQ will be in Dublin, its holding company incorporated in Jersey and that it will be tax resident in the Republic of Ireland.
'Right now, it's safe to say that the U.K. is the preferred country of destination for inverted companies, given the favourable tax regime and the non-tax attractions of the U.K.,' said Mr. Willens, a former managing director at Lehman Brothers.
Such profit shifting leads to a total annual revenue loss of $200 billion globally
London — Already struggling with an economy on the brink of recession and a record budget deficit, Britain is facing a potential new problem: an exodus of British companies fleeing the tax system.
European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Pierre Moscovici was in Dublin on Tuesday, appearing before the Oireachtas Finance Committee where he faced questions from TDs and Senators on the relaunched Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB).
'Obviously many countries in the European Union are places where aggressive tax optimisation finds its place,' Pierre Moscovici, the European commissioner for economic affairs and taxation, told reporters in Brussels yesterday. 'Some European countries are black holes ... I want to address this.'
SPD parliamentary secretary Carsten Schneider called Irish "tax dumping" a "poison for democracy" ahead of a vote which saw the Bundestag grant Ireland's request
We won't go along with this free pass for Ireland because we don't want ongoing tax dumping in the EU. We're not talking about Ireland's 12.5 per cent tax rate here, but secret deals that reduce that tax burden to near zero.
The study said "a large body of economic research over the last 15 years" contradicted the popular view that offshore centres erode tax collections, divert economic activity and otherwise burden nearby high-tax countries.
Finally, we find that U.S. firms with operations in some tax haven countries have higher federal tax rates on foreign income than other firms. This result suggests that in some cases, tax haven operations may increase U.S. tax collections at the expense of foreign country tax collections.
As a result of the Bush Administration's efforts, the OECD backed away from its efforts to target "harmful tax practices" and shifted the scope of its efforts to improving exchanges of tax information between member countries.
So, if you think about a lot of technology companies that are housed in Ireland and have massive operations there, they're not going to maybe need those in the same way, and those can be relocated back to the U.S.
IP onshoring is something we should be expecting to see much more of as we move towards the end of the decade. Buckle up!
Ireland is putting "all its eggs in one basket" through its growing reliance on international multinationals, and a shock to corporation tax receipts is unavoidable, a leading economist has warned. Seamus Coffey, the author of a report on corporation tax published last year, warned that Ireland's dependence on revenue from this source from foreign companies was "way out of line" with that of all other EU member states. He identified Ireland as the only EU country in which more than half of corporation tax came from overseas companies and said that this was because of their relatively larger presence than in other member states.
A 10% rate of corporation tax is applied to income from the sale of goods manufactured by a company in the State. These include both goods which are normally considered manufactured, and also goods and services specifically designated by the legislation as qualifying for the relief (especially computer services). A general 12.5% rate for trading profits will apply from 1 January 2003. Existing operations which are eligible for the 10% rate will retain entitlement to this rate until the end of the year 2010 in the case of manufacturing. New projects established after 22 July 1998 in manufacturing will be eligible for the 10% rate in respect of their activities until 31 December 2002, after which they will then be subject to the 12.5% rate. A maximum of 77 IDA grant-aided projects per year will qualify.