Time to ‘definitively address’ Ireland’s tax haven reputation

(The Irish Times) -- Burton drafts Bill to establish tax commission to rehabilitate State’s ’last chance saloon’ on tax justice

Legislation that aims to tackle once and for all the “emerging international view of Ireland as a tax haven,” has been introduced in the Dáil.

Labour finance spokeswoman Joan Burton said there was a need for a standing commission on taxation to deal with tax loopholes and other controversies.

She added that the growing international view and recent academic studies showing Ireland as a tax haven “have to be addressed definitively”.

Ms Burton was speaking as she introduced the Tax Law Reform and Codification Advisory Committee Bill, which would establish a taxation commission.

She claimed that “as a country we are drinking in a last chance saloon with how we participate in international tax justice and progress” and the “vital infrastructure” in the Bill was about this.

Ms Burton said one of its first actions could be to look at the unacceptable situation where the banks, which taxpayers bailed out with great sacrifice, “should effectively have a tax holiday with relief from all corporation tax for up to the next 20 years”.

She said the construction industry and developers were also using tax losses in this way and she highlighted the tax credit for research and development, which was costing “many millions over what it was meant to be when introduced by the Minister”.

And she warned that “many of the tax structures that we still have were significant contributors to the last crash”.

The former tánaiste said the State could “play catch-up with many of the legal and accounting tax advisory firms, which are at least three steps ahead of Revenue in planning schemes, some of which involve extremely aggressive tax planning and significant reductions in tax income to the State”.

The permanent commission would monitor, review and advise the Minister for Finance on issues dealing with the implementation and reform of tax law”.

The Dublin West TD said the commission “would examine case law judgments, issues arising from our membership of the EU and OECD, and the all too common controversies about the use of tax loopholes and other international tax developments”.

The key aim of the Bill, she said, was to “tackle once and for all the emerging international view of Ireland as a tax haven”.

Tax equity would be promoted by the commission, which would also seek to protect the revenues of the State and facilitate enterprise while also simplifying the operation of the law and enhancing compliance, she said.

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