From top: Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Apple CEO Tim Cook at Apple’s Cork last November; Dan Boyle
There is a difference between using something as an economic tool, and such tools becoming the very basis of our economy.
Dan Boyle writes:
So Cork has been added to the international tax tourism brouchures as the new go to destination. We’re on page three after Panama and Luxembourg.
As we speak creative copywriters are trying to come up an alliterative tag line to copperfasten our new found international status. I’m hoping they settle on ‘Capers’.
Here I should add the obvious caveat. Apple, as far as Cork and the Irish economy are concerned, is a good company. If it ceased to exist here, or if it contributes less than it has, the results would be catastrophic.
It can be argued that Apple and Ireland have been singled out together for pursuing the cynical and obscene logic of international corporate tax competition to its natural conclusion.
The European Commission, having no competence over our national sovereignty in tax setting or its collection, has used competition policy as something of a Trojan Horse to make its displeasure known.
Where there can be no argument is that multinational corporations, whoever they are, wherever and however they operate, must pay higher sums and more proportionate amounts of corporation tax. The questions that remain to argued are to whom such taxes should be paid and on what basis?
The awesome figures that have been talked about are strictly notional. It is an amount of money that is unlikely to ever be realised.
Years of litigation, regardless of the involvement or not of the Irish government, look set to follow. Part of this process will be dozens of other governments arguing that much of these profits have been made from within their jurisdictions, where no taxes have ever been paid.
If a windfall is to accrue to Ireland we need to be clear that such money should never be used for current expenditure. Windfalls should be invested in housing, public transport, renewable energy or education.
An alternative could be to establish a Citizens’ Dividend divided between each citizen resident in the State. The fund could be drawn down in certain life enhancing or emergency situations. It would be a tidy amount equivalent to twenty years of water charges!
The architecture of cross national corporate taxes is changing significantly and quickly. Ireland has barely stayed one step ahead of these changes. Transparency will be the byword.
We remain quite unprepared for this future world of corporate taxation.
That said there are valid reasons why Ireland has to engage in attracting investment through favourable tax differentials.
We are an island nation. We incur significant additional costs in sending our goods and services to the major population centres on the larger land masses throughout the Globe. We need to make use of different economic tools.
However there is a difference between using something as an economic tool, and such tools becoming the very basis of our economy. That has been where we have been going wrong. Very wrong.
Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle