Adobe paying tax at 0.5% in Ireland

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Ken Griffin, one of Ireland's best journalists, had an article in the Sunday Tribune this weekend looking at the tax affairs of two Adobe companies based in the Republic:

US SOFTWARE company Adobe's two Irish subsidiaries had a combined turnover of $2.6bn ( 1.83bn) last year yet paid just $5m ( 3.5m) in Irish corporation tax, according to new accounts.

The first subsidiary, Adobe Software Trading Company, made a pre-tax profit of $407m ( 285m) yet paid only $2.1m ( 1.47m) in Irish corporation tax . . . an effective rate of 0.5%.

The second company, Adobe Systems Software Ireland, made a pre-tax profit of $36.3m ( 25.4m) and paid $2.9m ( 2m) in corporation tax, giving it an effective tax rate of 7.9%.

This is unsurprising though. As Sheila Killian of Limerick University and the Tax Justice Network said:

Since the company has a HQ based in Bermuda, it's reasonable to assume it's carefully chosen the geographical locations in which it operates so as to minimise its overall tax liability.

Sheila Killian also said the financial position of the companies was almost impossible to ascertain from their accounts:

Most of the creditors from the Irish company are parent and subsidiary undertakings. This is a group that trades extensively within itself, and since it doesn't report a geographical breakdown, this makes it very difficult for anyone to see what exactly is going on.

So much for the true and fair view. KPMG do the audit, for what it's worth.

Now suppose we had country-by-country reporting. How much more would we know?