Ireland’s links to Washington and the West Coast are already strong and will grow stronger with the synergy between our economies.
An editorial [“Ireland comes knocking at Seattle’s door,” Nov. 13, Opinion] stated that Ireland “continues to be a tax haven.”
As Ireland’s ambassador to the U.S., I wish to make clear that Ireland is not a “tax haven” and does not meet any of the international criteria for being considered such. Our country is actually in full compliance with all applicable internationals standards and has a longstanding Tax Treaty/Double Taxation Agreement in place with the United States.
The recent publication of the “Paradise Papers” has raised legitimate questions about international taxation. Aggressive tax planning is a global issue that requires a global solution. This can be delivered through the framework of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), of which the U.S. and Ireland are leading members. For its part, Ireland is committed to the implementation of all OECD measures so as to ensure that our tax code meets the highest international standards. In recognition of our active role, in August the OECD awarded Ireland the highest international rating on tax transparency.
The Times’ editorial also referred to last year’s decision by the European Commission on Apple. Both Ireland and Apple are appealing this ruling. Ireland did not give favorable tax treatment to Apple — the full amount of tax due under Irish law was paid in this case and no state aid was provided.
When Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Leo Varadkar, visited Seattle recently, he highlighted Ireland’s strong commitment to EU membership and our status as a gateway into Europe for U.S. firms. The links between Ireland and the U.S. are strong and mutually beneficial, contributing to economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic.
We are delighted by the fact that more than 230 companies headquartered on the U.S. West Coast currently employ more than 47,000 people in Ireland. Ireland provides those West Coast companies with an ideal base from which they can operate successfully in Europe and beyond. What is less well known is that more than 130 Irish companies operate on the West Coast, where they employ some 8,000 U.S. residents. In all, in excess of 400 Irish companies employ almost 100,000 in all 50 states.
Ireland’s ties to the U.S. are unique, and it is these personal relationships that underline and sustain the burgeoning economic ties between our two nations — including in Seattle, where 800,000 people claim Irish heritage. These links will be further enhanced by the direct Seattle to Dublin flight route which was recently announced by Aer Lingus.
The U.S. Congress is currently debating significant changes to the U.S. tax code. This is a debate for Congress, just as our corporation tax regime is a matter for decision in Ireland. What I can say, with complete clarity, is that Ireland is committed to maintaining a stable, clear and transparent corporate tax regime, with a tax rate of 12.5 percent applied consistently across a wide base. This has been a core element of Ireland’s industrial policy for several decades and will remain so in future.
It is the combination of this unique labor force with a pro-business environment and barrier-free access to the world’s largest market that has made Ireland a natural location for investment and a natural bridge between the U.S. and the EU, a role which will become even more important once Britain leaves the EU.
Our links with the West Coast are already very strong and are set to grow stronger on the back of the many synergies between our respective economies.