“A Rose By Any Other Name…”
“A rose by any other name smells just as sweet” says Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet, so we need not pay too much attention to the OECD’s declaration that Ireland is not a tax haven – and never has been. Apparently he was responding to the European Commission’s decision a week ago to begin a preliminary investigation into any special tax deals that may have been granted to multinational companies by Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, which in turn is linked to the G20′s discussions on “base erosion and profit shifting” by MNCs, and, in particular, to the recent controversies in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany over the low taxes collected from American companies, such as Apple, Starbucks and Google. The EU has said nothing officially about such a probe, nor have the countries concerned. The reality is that Ireland has one of the lowest corporation tax rates in the EU, which it has clung onto grimly in the teeth of opposition from the harmonizers in Brussels, who in their pursuit of a “level playing field” would like to root out every tiny vestige of competition in the Union, thereby condemning it to permanent economic decline. So plaudits for Ireland which continues to fly the flag of tax competition, and as a result is the destination of choice for US (and other) companies setting up in Europe. You can imagine how much they hate that fact in Strasbourg and Brussels.