Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Taoiseach defends Irish tax regime

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Farmleigh House, Dublin, ahead of the G8 summit

Irish premier Enda Kenny has defended Ireland's tax laws following accusations the Government has "stolen" revenue from the UK.

He said Ireland had been at the forefront of international collaboration on tax regulations and the co-ordination of a tax code. "We have nothing to fear in respect of the transparency and the statute basis of the corporation tax that we have here," Mr Kenny said.

The Taoiseach dismissed comments from Northern Ireland finance minister Sammy Wilson, who said he was concerned that companies were using the Republic of Ireland to pay tax which he alleged should be in the UK. "In so far as the comments made from the minister of finance from Northern Ireland, again let me repeat that the fact that a country has a relatively low corporate tax rate speaks for itself," he added. "We have complied with all of the regulations here and we are very happy to work with international leaders to create an international code."

Speaking on the eve of the G8 summit, where issues of tax evasion will be high on the agenda, Mr Kenny said Ireland has always been positive about its tax laws. He added that he would be supportive of discussions between politicians north of the border and the British Government regarding the lowering of Northern Ireland's corporate tax rate.

He said it would be beneficial for the whole island if the rate in the north is brought in line with that of the Republic.

Earlier, the Democratic Unionist Mr Wilson insisted the British Government has leverage on the Irish government due to a £7.5 billion loan the UK gave Ireland. "They should be saying to the government in the Republic, you cannot steal tax revenue from us in this way and that is in fact what has been happening," Mr Wilson told the BBC.

As the host of the G8, Prime Minister David Cameron has put tax and transparency at the heart of the summit. He wants the meeting to include country-by-country reporting of where companies pay their tax.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny met Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper ahead of the summit. He agreed that tax evasion was an important issue for the world leaders to tackle during their talks in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh. Mr Harper said while his country believes in low tax rates, it also believes in paying the rates they owe.

"This is a very important initiative by Prime Minister Cameron," he said. "It's important that we do it and we do it together. When we're dealing with tax evasion, we're dealing with problems that cross borders."

Mr Kenny and Mr Harper also discussed strengthening trade and investment between Ireland and Canada. The Irish government has designated Canada as one of its priority growth markets. It currently attracts 25% of all Irish investment abroad and around 60 Irish businesses have a presence in Canada, employing over 6,000 people there

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