Irish Finance Minister Donohoe criticises OECD's global minimum corporate tax rate

Friday, April 23, 2021

On Tuesday, Finance Minister of Ireland Paschal Donohoe criticised talks co-ordinated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for a global minimum corporate tax rate, arguing smaller countries like Ireland "need to be able to use tax policy as a legitimate lever to compensate for the real, material and persistent advantage enjoyed by larger countries".

Speaking to virtual attendees at a virtual seminar about international tax, Donohoe said any deal must "accommodate Ireland's 12.5% rate". This 12.5% rate benefits large corporations including Apple, Google and Facebook which account for one in eight jobs in the country. According to CNBC, corporate tax receipts in Ireland totalled 11.8 billion in 2020, and the Department of Finance has projected, according to The Irish Times that figure increase from €11.6 billion in 2021 to €12.5 billion by 2025.

Donohoe also said Ireland's low taxes serve as an incentive to attract jobs and investment, saying while he supported an agreement with "appropriate and acceptable tax competition", it must be lower than the 21% proposed by the United States.

Donohoe said nations should recognise the low tax rates present in Ireland and other small countries, citing "advantages of scale, location, resources, industrial heritage" present in larger ones. Defending his own long-established rate, Donohoe said a 12.5% rate is "within the ambit of healthy tax competition" as a rate which "stimulate[s] investment, growth and innovation, which are core to Ireland's industrial policy". According to The Guardian, current proposals would shrink Ireland's corporate tax base by 20%; and tax receipts to be €2 billon lower than it would otherwise be in 2025, per Irish Department of Finance.

Brian Keegan, the director of public policy at Chartered Accountants Ireland said it was "not tax change, it's political change". Head of tax for the OECD Pascal Saint-Amans said "there is a new dynamic that is likely to bring us to a resolution", and the US' willingness to address expressed concerns simplifies an admittedly-complex blueprint.

A spokesperson for the Irish Department of Finance told CNBC on Monday "political level discussions on these issues have not yet taken place".

The Guardian reported many companies in Ireland pay less on revenues as compared to other countries; with Apple paying as little as 0.005% in 2014. A European Commission ruling in 2016 ordered Apple to pay €13 billion it owed back taxes to the Government of Ireland ; it was struck down in July on the grounds "[t]he commission did not succeed in showing to the requisite legal standard that there was an advantage."