Belfast Telegraph

Majority of bosses want corporation tax slashed

Most business owners in Northern Ireland believe lowering the rate of corporation tax would be good for the province's economy, surveys have found.

The research by the Institute of Directors (IoD) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) was released 10 days before the close of a consultation on a Treasury paper on rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy, which considered how corporation tax could be cut.

Both IoD and FSB are part of Grow NI, a coalition of business groups in favour of a lower rate of business tax for the province.

Wilfred Mitchell, FSB policy chair, said business owners, employees, customers and suppliers should give their views to the consultation, which closes on July 1.

"It is vitally important that the Treasury hears a strong, united voice in response to this consultation, calling on them to give Northern Ireland the powers to transform its economy," he said.

Grow NI argues that reducing the present rate of 26% to 12.5% -the rate which helped the Republic create the conditions for its Celtic Tiger economy - will enable the province to attract more investment.

Cutting the rate will come at a cost of around £300m to Northern Ireland's block grant from Westminster. However, phasing in a cut over five years will stagger that cost to between £60m and £90m per year.

Nearly half of the IoD respondents and two-thirds questioned by the FSB were opposed to the concept of phasing in a reduction and instead thought the cut should be made in one step.

Overall, just under 85% of those questioned by the FSB said they believed the move would attract more foreign direct investment.

Responses to the consultation should be sent to Richard Williams, Room 2/N2, HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London SW1A 2HQ or sent to niconsultation@hmtreasury.gsi.

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