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Safeguards must be built into new corporation tax regime, says Oxfam

By Margaret Canning

Published 18/11/2016

Oxfam chief executive Jim Clarken:
Oxfam chief executive Jim Clarken: "The Stormont Executive has an opportunity to create a best in class tax system that reflects genuine economic activity and works for the people of Northern Ireland, not against them."

Northern Ireland must ensure that its tax system is "fair, open and transparent" when it secures the power to lower the rate of corporation tax in 2018, it has been claimed.

Oxfam said a survey it carried out found there was "overwhelming public support" for Northern Ireland to have a fair business tax regime that guarded against tax avoidance by firms.

It also claimed that the new system must contain safeguards against 'brass plating' - the practice whereby companies set up nominal offices in a jurisdiction to avail of lower tax.

The charity additionally said it feared that businesses would be able to avoid paying tax in poorer countries that were in greater need of revenue.

Chief executive Jim Clarken added: "While we all wish to see an economic policy that will bring jobs, prosperity and stability to the province, it should not be at the expense of essential public services here at home or in poor countries."

Northern Ireland is set for a corporation tax rate of 12.5% in 2018, compared to the Great Britain-wide rate of 20%.

The lower level is intended to help the province attract foreign direct investment.

But the charity warned that signals that Great Britain could lower its rate even further in a bid to attract post-Brexit investment should not lead to a race to the bottom.

Mr Clarken said: "The Stormont Executive has an opportunity to create a best in class tax system that reflects genuine economic activity and works for the people of Northern Ireland, not against them."

Belfast Telegraph

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