Ireland is a tax haven

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The Sunday Business Post in Ireland had a story this week saying:

Senior government officials were advised ahead of the last budget that Ireland’s perception abroad was important when formulating international tax policy, given that Ireland has been ‚Äò‚Äòerroneously’’ dubbed a tax haven. A document prepared for the Tax Strategy Group, ahead of the 2011 budget, outlines why Ireland is not a tax haven but said policy must be aware of international views. ‚Äò‚ÄòIn framing policy, we need to take a balanced approach that has due regard to wider international developments," it read. The Tax Strategy Group is a high-powered interdepartmental committee whose brief is to examine and develop proposals for the budget.

The Group said there were two reasons for Ireland to be viewed as a tax haven. The first as the 12.5% tax rate. The second was a:

‘‘rather obscure but nonetheless influential academic paper by Hines and Rice dating back to 1994. Although an academic paper that is now 15 years old, it remains very influential today. Because of its inclusion as a tax haven in this paper, Ireland has been included in later lists of tax havens that use Hines and Rice," read the document.

Whose list? Mine, for the Tax Justice Network is the only one they can be referring to.

And is Ireland a secrecy jurisdiction? Of course it is.

As the Sunday Business Post reports, the Tax Strategy Group said:

However, perception and how Ireland is seen abroad is important and in framing policy we need to take a balanced approach that has due regard to wider international developments.

Absolutely. And what the Tax Justice Network is doing is changing those perceptions by stripping away the pretence others choose to weave around secrecy jurisdictions. And it’s clearly working.