Oxfam: Aviation tax relief costs Ireland €577m per year

The NGO has issued a damning report on tax avoidance in Ireland...

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A new report on tax avoidance in Ireland has called on the Government to do more to ensure that corporations cannot use Irish laws to shrink their tax bills.

Oxfam's Mantras and Myths: A True Picture of the Corporate Tax System in Ireland publication states that a lack of reform is costing Irish taxpayers and harming developing countries.

It warns that this issue will become increasingly important as factors such as Trump's victory in the US and the UK's EU exit lead to increased competition to attract businesses through tax cuts.

The study says that there's a growing spotlight focused on Ireland's tax policies following the EU's 'Apple tax' ruling - it describes it as a "watershed moment for Ireland.

Oxfam's sums found that tax relief for the aircraft leasing industry cost the Irish taxpayer approximately €577m in payments missed through tax incentives:

"Using the figures that are available, we estimated that the aircraft leasing industry could be costing the Irish taxpayer as much as €493,333 in foregone taxes per person employed in that industry – almost half a million euro per employee each year," the report states.

Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan shut the 'Double Irish' tax loophole in 2015

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 states.

It also warned that tax incentives offering lower tax rates on activities which develop new intellectual property will be used by corporations to reduce their tax liability - without carrying out significant R&D activities here.

Last year, when Ireland registered an official economic growth rate of 26% - this figure was inflated by aircraft leasing firms moving large balance sheets to the country.

The organisation acknowledges that Ireland is taking part in the OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) process - but warns these measures do not go far enough.

Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive Jim Clarken commented: "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.

"We need to have an honest discussion about corporate tax avoidance in Ireland and be prepared to admit that while we’ve made a good start, there is still a secretive network of loopholes to be exposed and removed if harmful. Despite some improvements, reporting requirements for multinational corporations’ tax activities are still opaque."