updated 05:13 pm EDT, Wed May 22, 2013
Testy exchanges between ministers show polarity of issue
Following Apple's testimony before the US Senate, Ireland's finance minister Michael Noonan declared that neither he nor his country would be the "whipping boy" for US tax loopholes. The US-led investigation demonstrated that Apple had paid two percent of $74 billion in international income, assisted by Irish tax law -- in particular, one holding company including Apple's retail effort throughout Europe had paid zero tax in five years.
"I do not want to be the whipping boy for some misunderstanding in a hearing in the U.S. congress," Noonan said. A testy response at a parliamentary committee meeting saw Noonan accuse a fellow lawmaker of putting nearly 150,000 foreign-led jobs in the country at risk by parroting the US report. "The central point the committee proceeded to speak of was an Irish special tax rate of two percent or less. The two-percent annual rates are got by dividing the tax charged by branches in Ireland by the entire profit of the companies concerned. This is clearly wrong and misleading," said Noonan.
"In the long run, the US Congress, if they wanted to, could wipe out those 150,000 real jobs, and we don't want to provoke people by over-egging it, by doing things that are clearly upsetting the US," said Irish think-tank Economic and Social Research Institute head John FitzGerald
Minister Richard Bruton, in charge of foreign corporate interests in Ireland told state broadcaster RTE that companies like Apple and Google "play the tax codes one against the other; that is tax planning, and I think we do need international cooperation through the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development) to deal with the aggressive nature of that."