Irish action

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I was in action in the Irish press as well as that of the UK this last weekend. The Sunday Tribune ran a major feature on growing worldwide concerns about Ireland's behaviour as a tax haven.

Two things struck me about this report. The first is the persistence of the Irish government in denying this glaringly obvious truth. Don't they realise that there isn't a tax official in any other country in the world who laughs at them behind their banks ever time they say things like this:

A spokesman for the Department of Finance emphatically insisted that Ireland wasn't a tax haven. "The low rate of corporate tax is necessary to attract inward investment that would otherwise go elsewhere or would not occur at all, " he said.

Pretty much by definition that makes you a tax haven.

The second is that I know that journalists ask me to comment for two reasons. The first is that I am Irish (I have dual nationality, to be precise). Second, there are no accountants in Ireland willing to talk about this issue. They're all too frightened to do so. That's one of the characteristics of a tax haven state. They are mighty oppressive.

And the Irish Mail on Sunday also featured a Tax Research inspired story - although as they have no web site I have no idea if my effort in supporting their report was rewarded with a quote. This is what they said though (care of Ireland on Line):

Semi-state companies avoid tax by using Dutch companies

Three semi-state companies have been legally able to avoid paying corporation tax here by moving more than €90m through the accounts of Dutch holding companies.

According to the Irish Mail on Sunday, the ESB, An Post and Aer Rianta have been using so-called mailbox companies in Amsterdam for nearly 10 years.

It maintains the ESB transferred more than €69m in profits to an Amsterdam-based holding company in the 1990s.

An Post set up AN Post BV in May 2002 and has been used to clear almost €18m in inter-company loans.

Aer Rianta, meanwhile, has put nearly €4m through the books of their mailbox company, Aer Rianta International Netherlands BV

Opposition parties have called for an investigation by Minister for Finance Brian Cowen and the Revenue Commissioners.

It seems the SOMO report continues to attract attention. Which is good news. The bad news is that this shows tax havens are now fighting each other in a 'race to the bottom'.