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Ireland happy to be nowhere near the residence-for-investment list


Added on 25/10/2018

(Irish Times) -- All too often Ireland finds itself in the crosshairs when it comes to issues of tax avoidance and unfair tax competition, especially within the EU. Attempts to force through a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base, new OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting rules and, most recently, a digital sales tax all can seem to be framed in the context of stopping Ireland enjoying the competitive advantage it has developed as a particularly open small economy.

We may not be anything close to a Wild West on corporate taxation, but dirt, repeatedly thrown, can ultimately stick, tarnishing the reputation of Ireland Inc. It’s a relief, then, to find that Ireland appears nowhere near a list of this year’s “best investment migration programmes”, shorthand for passport-for-investment or residence-for-investment schemes.

Henley & Partners, which styles itself as a citizenship advisory firm and which is based in London, produces a ranking of global residence and citizenship programmes. This year’s list, published on Tuesday, ranks Malta as the go-to place for citizenship programmes for the fourth year running, with Austria top of the residence-by-investment league, knocking Portugal from its perch for the first time.

The UK, Italy, Belgium, the US, Canada and Australia are among others offering residence for investment, though only Malta, Cyprus and Austria among EU states offer citizenship programmes.

The OECD has now set its sights on these schemes, stating this week that while they can operate for perfectly legitimate reasons, “they can also be potentially misused to hide their assets offshore by escaping reporting under the OECD/G20 Common Reporting Standard”.

Schemes that are “potentially high risk”, it says, are those that give “access to a low personal income tax rate on offshore financial assets and do not require an individual to spend a significant amount of time in the location offering the scheme”.

And listed among those that cause concern? Yep, Malta and Cyprus.

But, fortunately, not Ireland.