Tag Archives: Richard Murphy

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 12.39.27

From top: Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes, Apple logo and Richard Murphy, of the City University London

Further to the Apple tax ruling

Richard Murphy, a tax expert based at the City University London, along with Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes spoke to Seán O’Rourke this morning.

Mr Murphy, from the outset, explained that he wasn’t in the least bit surprised by the European Commission’s ruling, as Ireland had let Apple have “unfair advantage” over its competitors and, therefore, under EU competition law, the ruling is logical.

He said the decision isn’t one about tax so much as it is about competition, adding:

“It is the right decision, yes it is because if we believe in fair markets, if we believe that that’s the way we should organise the world, then everybody has to compete on a level playing field. And, as any economist will tell you, we need transparency. Well, this was a secret deal, it was done without people knowing. The consequences were unclear for a long time and it did give Apple an unfair advantage over everyone else. It was bad for economics, it was bad for Ireland, let’s be clear here. It’s very obviously bad for Ireland now and it was bad for everybody else in the marketplace – for you and me as consumers.”

From the rest of the discussion:

Brian Hayes: “Well, this is a very serious decision, Sean. And I have no doubt that this will cause significant reputational damage to the country and that’s why I presume the Government will immediately have to appeal this decision. I think some of the logic that is behind this decision, I haven’t got the full document which is now being produced but some of the logic, in my view, is quite faulty.”

“The essential argument is that we’re being asked to collect tax that was generated from profits in other countries, ostensibly in the United States of America. Now there is absolutely no doubt that the change of tax structures brought about by [Finance Minister] Michael Noonan in terms of the ‘stateless’ branches of the companies that were there have come to an end, as a consequence of his decision. There’e been a fundamental change to the law in the last number of years and I think the argument that’s being made in the United States, and by the Irish Government is, and we are being asked to retrospectively apply a new tax code on a whole range of…”

Talk over each other

Seán O’Rourke: “But is it a new tax code, Brian Hayes? I mean if you don’t pay your taxes, or I don’t pay mine, I mean we’ll be very quick to tell us we have to pay retrospectively and with interest.”

Hayes: “You pay tax on what you generate in Ireland, Sean. You don’t pay tax for what you generate in the United States of America or elsewhere. And that’s the fundamental problem here. This is, in my initial reading of this, fundamentally altering the international standard about where you apply. You pay tax in Ireland on the value that you, on the profits that you create in Ireland. We cannot be responsible for taking the tax from other countries. And that’s why all of these issues can only be resolved at an OCED level.”

O’Rourke: “Right. Well, let’s ask Richard Murphy about that. Do you take that argument, Richard Murphy?”

Murphy: “No, I don’t buy that argument at all. There are a number of reasons why not. Firstly, this arrangement was designed to make sure that the tax was not paid in any other country, as well. So you can’t pretend that the tax should have been due in the UK and therefore Ireland shouldn’t be penalised because the arrangement made sure that no tax was paid in the UK. So you can’t use that argument. If you had been sure it was paid in the UK, you could use that argument. But you have not, you know it was not. And, secondly, the deal was designed to make sure the tax was actually paid nowhere. If it had been paid in full and properly in Ireland, I think there would have been some defence but, in practice, the structure was designed to make sure that, in effect, tax was not paid at all. And therefore, the ruling it is, well it must be due somewhere. And that must be Ireland. And, because it has not been taxed anywhere else, because that was what the ruling intended, Ireland should be responsible for collecting the tax…”


Hayes: “And Seán, the only other argument the Irish government have always said and it has been mentioned by every other member state of the European Union, this is ostensibly a matter for the United States of America…In the case of Apple, this could be resolved entirely by the US Congress changing the way in which they allow repatriation and allow…”

Murphy: “No, Brian, that’s no reasonable…”

Talk over each other

Hayes: “In the Irish case, just let me have my point, in the Irish case, there was an issue around stateless companies – that was remedied and the argument that has been made since then is how can you retrospectively apply this bill over a period of time? You’d have no surprise in my view Sean, that most of the cases on this top-level are being taken against small members states of the European Union – Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Ireland. Countries that have, traditionally, certainly in the case of Ireland, have no industrial revolution, have since the 1960s got to open its doors towards inward investment and now we’re being asked, in terms of the entire corporate tax structure in Europe, to take these cases on. I have no doubt that the Government will want to appeal this decision. Firstly, to ensure, that the integrity of our revenue system for all to see. You cannot have a retrospective effect in corporate tax law and that has been applied. And the other argument I would make which I think is important from the Irish Revenue’s perspective is they are, we tax all monies generated in Ireland, profits generated in Ireland, where all of the changes that Michael Noonan has brought about: abolishing the double Irish, making sure that stateless companies registration was changed, changing the residency rules, that happened in the last number of years and that’s right that that should happen. We’re ahead of the OECD in this regard and it’s entirely right that those are in place now in Irish law.”

O’Rourke: “Richard?”

Murphy:I’m sorry, Brian, but I’m going to have to accuse you of using weasel words there. One of your key arguments was that this is a problem for the USA. What you were effectively saying, in your first intervention, was ‘Ireland couldn’t tax profits arising elsewhere’ and then you say, ‘the US should have profits, tax profits arising elsewhere’. You can’t have it both ways. This was not a US tax problem. It was a problem of tax not being paid in Europe and Ireland facilitating that by making sure that the tax was paid nowhere. There is no credibility in the Irish tax system. If you think there is, you are deceiving yourself. Around the world, people know…

Talk over each other

Hayes: “With respect…

Talk over each other

Murphy: “No, no, no, I’m allowed to say what I think here…”

Hayes: “And I’m allowed also to say what I think…”

Murphy:There is no credibility because Ireland did go out of its way to help, the same, by the way, as Luxembourg did, as Belgium did and as The Netherlands have. All are tax havens. You are sitting in a tax haven, Brian, and that tax haven has made a fundamental error…

Talk over each other

Murphy: ..equality in the world and it decided to undermine fair competition in the world and it’s time Ireland stopped doing this and actually put in a place a fair competition policy that the people of Ireland could be proud of.”

Talk over each other

Hayes: “I’d like to counter that ideological rant.”

Murphy: “It’s not an ideological rant, Brian.”

Hayes: “I have my say now, I have my say now. I fully accept that there were issues in the past that had to be resolved but under the last government and under commitments made by this current government, those issues are being resolved and you need to respect that…”

Listen back in full here

Pics: Rollingnews