Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Let your voice be heard on tax issue

Corporation Tax is a complex issue which requires a detailed study if it is to be properly understood.

That is why the Belfast Telegraph is running a week-long series which attempts to set Corporation Tax in context, and to answer the main questions which our readers may have on an important issue which affects all of us.

This newspaper backs the campaign for a reduction in Corporation Tax, though the exact amount has yet to be agreed by decision-makers.

A reduction in Corporation Tax would in theory help Northern Ireland to rebuild its economy after the years of setbacks and missed opportunities due to the Troubles.

It would also help Northern Ireland to become more competitive and to attract new investment, particularly from American companies who already recognise the high skills and work ethic of our people.

All of this could transform Northern Ireland's image from that of an area of sectarian trouble to a region of great investment opportunity.

However a cut in Corporation Tax would not be without a cost. The likely increase in income from investment and new jobs would be balanced by a decrease in our block grant from Westminster, and that is a crucial calculation which needs to be maintained in our favour.

Many of the leading employers groups, including the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, the CBI and the Institute of Directors, are in favour of such a move, but other groups including the main trade unions are much more cautious.

The important point to remember however, is that nothing will happen unless the people of Northern Ireland make their views clear on this issue. The Secretary of State Owen Paterson has stressed that a reduction in Corporation Tax is not a foregone conclusion, and that the deadline for making your views known is Friday week, 24 June.

That is a tight deadline, and those who want their voices heard will have to act quickly. The final decision is yours, but you do need to be well-informed before you make that choice.

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