Belfast Telegraph

Accountants join call for cut in profits tax

By Nigel Tilson

Northern Ireland's chartered accountants believe a cut in corporation tax is the key fiscal measure needed to assist private sector growth in Northern Ireland, it has emerged.

A survey of almost 500 chartered accountants in the private and public sectors in the province shows there is overwhelming support for a cut in the tax.

Sir David Varney is currently reviewing business tax policy in the province and has been urged to cut the corporation levy in Ulster from 30% to 12.5%, harmonising it with the rate in the Republic.

It is understood Sir David was due to publish his long-awaited report today, but it has been delayed for up to a week to allow last-minute representations from Northern Ireland politicians and business groups.

The chartered accountants have made their views on corporation tax known in the financial confidence survey undertaken by the Ulster Society of Chartered Accountants in association with the Economic Research Institute of Northern Ireland.

It highlights that a cut in corporation tax is viewed by USCA members as the key fiscal measure needed to boost private sector growth in the province.

In its recent response to the Varney Review, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland, of which USCA is part, urged Sir David to " recommend that Northern Ireland be granted a differential corporation tax rate from the rest of the United Kingdom".

It further suggested that the rate should be aligned to the 12.5% levy in the Republic and stated that in its view there are no technical or legal grounds as to why such a rate could not be applied to Northern Ireland or that amendments to the Taxes Act could not be made to accommodate such a change.

Victor Hewitt, director of ERINI, said: "This survey adds to the already overwhelming body of evidence in support of a differential corporation tax that has been given to the Varney Review team.

"For the sake of Northern Ireland's future, Sir David must find the courage to address this issue regardless of the opposition of the Treasury."

Angela Reavey, chairman of USCA, which represents 2,800 chartered accountants in Northern Ireland, said: "The high level of participation from our members in this survey is a strong indicator of their willingness to play a greater role in shaping economic development in Northern Ireland as well as a powerful gauge of the level of support for financial incentives which would encourage investment in Northern Ireland."

Calls for a reduction in corporation tax here have been gathering pace since the Industrial Task Force, led by Sir George Quigley, and The Belfast Telegraph launched high profile campaigns in 2005 urging the Treasury to harmonise tax levels with the Republic.

Belfast Telegraph