back to article Irish gov refuses to haul Google, Apple into MPs' tax inquiry

An Irish parliamentary committee has voted against hauling in representatives from Google and Apple to answer for their tax affairs in the country, after the firms were accused of using Ireland as a base for their aggressive tax planning. Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty attempted to get a motion passed by the Joint Committee on …


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  1. John Colman

    I wonder...

    Is a Double Irish Dutch sandwich available from Starbucks?

    1. wowfood

      Re: I wonder...

      Yes but for some unknown reasson it's written in italian.

      Doppio irlandese panino olandese (google translate)

      1. Kristian Walsh

        Re: I wonder...

        That's just subliterate gibberish that happens to be composed of Italian words... perfect for Starbucks, then.

  2. auburnman
    Thumb Up

    Good on them

    The politicians can't pin anything on the companies and they know it. All this enquiry bullshit is a pathetic attempt at keeping attention on the corporations so that MP's don't actually have to do some work fixing the tax structure (probably because that would knacker their own tax arrangements.) At least some MP's have the decency to not waste everyone's time.

    You want to fix the multinationals tax situation, do any or all of the following:

    1 - 1% tax on all transactions where payment is made by a UK entity. A small charge that is the bare minimum cost of doing business in the UK. Adjust existing taxes so that small or national businesses (or anyone who actually already pays 1% or more) see no increase, multinationals can suck it up.

    2 - Withholding tax of about 5% which corporations can claim back IF they can prove they have already paid tax on that earnings within another jurisdiction.

    3 - Tax money as it is moved out of the UK, BUT make this refundable/not payable IF the company gives written validated confirmation that it is being moved to its final jurisdiction this financial year (i.e. an undertaking that it will not then go to Holland and then on to Bermuda). I can't see this having an effect on anyone who isn't trying to pull a double Irish Dutch whatever.

    4 - Payments to sister companies to be heavily restricted to reasonable amounts for goods and services received only, e.g. no more Starbucks UK paying millions in brand licencing to Starbucks US to reduce the profits on their books. This is the one that sails closest to the tax evasion wind in my opinion.

    1. Kristian Walsh

      Re: Good on them

      You've hit the nail on the head. Every government whining about Ireland has an easy way to fix the problem. The US, the UK and the Germans can pass laws to close the loopholes in their tax codes. The US particularly could very easily address the incorporated/headquartered loophole that Apple are exploiting. (Irish tax treatment of multinationals is based on where a company is headquartered; in US law, it's by where it's incorporated. By incorporating in Ireland, with headquarters in USA, one of Apple's ghost companies becomes resident nowhere and thus not liable to tax anywhere)

      Compared with other countries, Ireland's company tax code is simple, transparent and applies to all businesses from a two-man plumbing outfit all the way to a multinational services company. You calculate your profit, and you give the government 12.5% of that figure. End of.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good on them

        Ah but if the government fix tax loopholes like that, they might be forced by popular vote to fix them in other places. Then the MPs would have even fewer ways to avoid paying taxes on their hard earned *muffles a laugh* cash.

  3. Jack Project

    Stunned, honest.

    The Irish turkeys decided not to vote for Christmas. I'm shocked, maybe we should remember this when they need bailing out again.

  4. Velv

    Irish Tradition

    Of course the Irish Government aren't going to question the officials from overseas companies who are paying less international tax through paying more Irish tax.

    The Irish population have a long tradition of making huge profits from the business exploits of foreign governments and companies on foreign soil. FFS they built most of the British canals on this premise. They're not about to "kill the golden goose" unless they really have to (although as Dara O'Briain points out, the Easter Europeans have in recent years "been coming over and stealing our gig".

    1. auburnman

      Re: Irish Tradition

      Are the Easter Europeans related to the Easter Bunny?

      1. C 18

        Re: Irish Tradition

        You know the Easter Europeans, they're from Baltic states and some Central / East European ones. Not so stern as their cousins from the same countries, the EaSTERN Europeans...

        Bad-oom tish!

        It's the parka...(of course)

  5. Shagbag

    'aggressive' tax planning

    I thought all journalists (except for those at the BBC, The Guardian and The Telegraph) were supposed to be unbiased.

    Please drop the use of the adjective 'aggressive' when talking about tax planning.

    It is everyone's legal right to plan their affairs so as to legally minimise the incidence of taxation should they wish to do so.

    1. Steve Knox

      Re: 'aggressive' tax planning

      I thought all journalists (except for those at the BBC, The Guardian and The Telegraph) were supposed to be unbiased.


      But in this case, the wording you mentioned is not biased. In this context, "aggressive" means "making an all-out effort" (, 2nd definition). There is no inherent moral judgement there.

      Any negative connotation is your own introduction.

      1. Shagbag

        Re: 'aggressive' tax planning, 1st definition:

        "characterized by or tending toward unprovoked offensives, attacks, invasions, or the like; militantly forward or menacing: aggressive acts against a neighboring country. "

        Clearly a value-laden adjective.

        Go, on. Find another definition that suits your purpose. I'll just find another to counter you.

        BACK AT YOU!

        1. Steve Knox

          Re: 'aggressive' tax planning

          The appropriate response to reading or hearing a word with multiple definitions is to evaluate the context of the word and choose the meaning which is most relevant. In this case (based on the definitions on, since that's what we've been using) the second definition is clearly more relevant than the first, since tax preparation is not generally associated with "unproved offensives, attacks, invasions, or the like".

          In some cases, there may be multiple definitions which are relevant in different ways; this is the basis of the pun. However, that is simply not the case here.

          I don't need to find another definition to suit my argument; I can simply stick with the first definition I selected, as it is clearly superior to your choice. "Duelling definitions" is simply not necessary.

          The fact that you selected definition 1 merely serves to underscore my premise that the cause of your offense is your own inference.

          1. C 18

            Re: 'aggressive' tax planning

            Kudos man...

            But remember, programming wetware carries with it the risk of corrupting one's own wetware.

            Tread carefully brave Steve Knox...

          2. Shagbag

            Re: 'aggressive' tax planning

            "I don't need to find another definition to suit my argument; I can simply stick with the first definition I selected."

            Go ahead. Live in your little dreamworld.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          shagbag explained

          I'm sitting here shaking my head in wonder and then it dawned on me. It's school holidays.

  6. Steve Knox


    "Given the fact that multinational corporations have appeared at committees in Britain and the United States to give evidence about their tax affairs in Ireland, it is ridiculous that politicians here in Ireland would vote down a proposal for them to do the same here," he said in a statement after the vote went against him.

    No, what's ridiculous is that after decades of politicians dragging corporate representatives before government panels, berating them for taking advantage of poorly written tax codes, and then doing nothing to change those codes, you think the solution is more of the same.

  7. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    It's all planned.

    There is a very good reason why these complex schemes are not illegal.

    They have been designed that way by the politicians and civil servants.

    1. Tom 35

      Re: It's all planned.

      They need to be complex, can't have average people or small companies using them...

      The talk going on now is just the need to appear to be doing something. Maybe some fishing for fat brown envelops, and promises of board seats.

    2. C 18

      Re: It's all planned.

      >...these complex schemes are not illegal...

      ...but they may be morally reprehensible...

      Sits back, gets popcorn, puts feet up, waits...

  8. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    End of the eu?

    So Ireland makes a few % while ripping off the rest of the Eu by allowing tax scams to operate

    Presumably other Eu countries could run their own scams, sorry - revenue enhancement processes ?

    I'm trying to get a CE mark for a medical device - it's a lot of work. Now if some "business friendly" new Eu country would rubber stamp it for me I would be prepared to open a branch office there and employ a couple of locals.

    Ireland used to be famous for giving asylum to any refugee that arrived - along with the Irish passport they got a ferry timetable and a strong hint in the direction of Liverpool. Presumably in return for say a 1000euro processing fee some poor new Eu country could hand out citizenship to everyone in Somalia. At a stroke solving illegal immigration in the Eu.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: End of the eu?

      Unfortunately probably one area of the legislation where a government will be unlikely to be effective in leaning on (sorry, I mean "encouraging to be customer friendly") its regulators.

      National medicine regulatory bodies all talk to each other while also doing things their own way, and any new entrants to the Euro-club will have been shown the huge volumes of EudraLex and had a trip round the European Medicines Agency and been told "get it up to our standard or you're not coming in".

  9. Alan Denman

    those with begging bowls

    ..continue to force a smile when given bread crumbs

  10. The Dude

    Much ado about nothing

    I am always amazed by the enthusiasm people display for the "I have to pay, so should everyone else" mentality. Just because the government has you (and me) trapped in the tax-slavery system does not necessarily justify that this sad fate be inflicted on everyone else. I understand that it is a bit embarrassing to be a tax slave when others have managed to avoid that fate, but still....

    1. Alan Denman

      Re: Much ado about nothing

      We pay our pennies, they save their billions, we become penniless slaves, them locusts then move one.

      Nothing amazing to see.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Motion defeated by parties

    "Both Doherty's motion and a similar motion from MP Richard Boyd Barrett, the finance spokesperson for the People Before Profit Alliance, were defeated by committee members from the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour parties".

    All of which, including the pretend Labor party, are bought-and-paid for by the commercial sector ...

  12. Saoir

    So what ?

    Why on earth would the Irish Gov drag these businesses in to see them ? They have done nothing wrong. They have obeyed the Irish, UK, and USA laws and tax regulations to a tee.

    The UK needs to learn something about how to attract and encourage business. These have brought thousands of jobs to Ireland and spent millions in construction and spending that creates many thousands of other jobs. This whole Hoo haa about corporate tax is a complete distraction and a red herring !

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just find it a little hypocritical that the commentary from the UK is so harsh about the Irish tax system when the entire City of London exists purely because it's got relatively 'pro business' (relaxed) regulations and low taxation.

    What's good for the goose is good for the gander, so if the UK wants to force Ireland to hike corporation tax, perhaps Ireland should look at using the EU to impost German or French levels of financial regulations on major banks, hedge funds, and investment houses.

    I can assure you that those companies aren't all congregating in London for the weather!

    They'd be off to Zurich, Singapore or wherever they could get a better deal.

    Not only that but the UK actually operates a whole rake of "crown dependencies" and other oddly arranged territories that seem to mostly exist to be tax havens : Isle of Man, Channel Islands, and various further flung islands with far better weather.

    I just find the indignation about Ireland's corporate tax rates, particularly when the country is basically on its knees due to a huge banking crisis and the Eurozone crisis, is pretty much the pot calling the kettle a tax haven!

    To me it just looks like kicking someone while their down.

  14. j_herndon

    How can an approved law be subject to scrunity?

    I think this is getting out of control. The legislative parties passed the tax laws that multi-national companies are currently taking advantage of with the plan of infusing direct investment in Ireland. Ireland is not the first country to attempt this plan to infuse their economy with much needed capital (by employing local labor, the MNC spending monies locally, payment of local taxes if not corporate taxes), Singapore was able to transform itself into a manufacturing powerhouse and train their labor force by offering companies "Tax Free Havens" spanning 10 years or more in duration.

    Yes, the central government's forego corporate tax revenues but in the long term a better educated workforce that can spend their dollars locally infuses and fosters economies that would otherwise exist in a depressed state.

    I believe factions of Ireland's elected parties are creating these issues for the simple reason that they themselves either do not understand the law or were outvoted in the original drafting of the law itself.

    Ireland has the right idea, they are taking a bold move to strengthen their labor force and create a technology base (via spin offs) that are long term investments. The parties who are now crying will be thankful later.....

  15. 4.1.3_U1

    Check the adverts

    'Luxembourgeois and Swiss sandwiches are also possible and those are just the strategies that we know of - there are, no doubt, many more.' - Try contacting your advertisers; the only ads I see on this site on my phone are for ocra, who seem to specialise in this matter.

    Must root phone!

    PS ads I see are obviously localized.

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