Dept of Finance says critical report misunderstands Irish tax laws

Oxfam believes the Government is not doing enough to fight tax avoidance

The Department of Finance has responded to a highly-critical Oxfam report on Ireland's corporate tax system.

It suggested that the State has failed to close a number of tax loopholes which allow companies to reduce their tax liabilities.

"We note the publication of a report by Oxfam on the Irish corporate tax system. We disagree with a number of the assertions in the report and officials from the Department of Finance will be seeking to discuss the report further with Oxfam," the Department said in a statement issued to Newstalk.

It adds that some of the recommendations in the report suggest that the authors, "misunderstand the nature of our tax rules and our tax treaty network."

The NGO believes that actions such as the closing of Ireland's 'Double Irish' tax loophole will not stop companies using Ireland to slash their tax bills:

"Ireland’s extensive network of legal double taxation agreements could allow companies to continue to route profits to low tax jurisdictions beyond the 2020 end date of the 'Double Irish' loophole. A corporation can simply establish an Irish-registered company which is tax resident in a country with which Ireland has a double tax arrangement, such as Qatar or Panama," Oxfam stated.

The Department has replied to these statements: "The comments in the Oxfam report misrepresent the relationship between Ireland’s tax residence rules and our tax treaty network."

"The purpose of a double tax treaty is the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion," it added.

Merrion St adds that the State has taken action to stop the use of these agreements to facilitate tax avoidance in the manner outlined by Oxfam.

This morning Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive Jim Clarken warned of the fallout of tax avoidance: "Corporate tax dodging is not a victimless crime. Not only does Ireland harm its own reputation by allowing such practices, but profits that flow through Ireland without being taxed here should have been taxed elsewhere."

The NGO added that it hopes that the EU's 'Apple tax' ruling will be a "watershed moment for Ireland" and lead to a new discussion about tax avoidance.