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'A rigged global tax system': Oxfam says Ireland is a tax haven by EU standards

The new report by Oxfam argues that Ireland fails to meet the criterion on fair taxation.

Image: Jaroslav Moravcik via Shutterstock

IRELAND IS ONE of four EU states that would end up blacklisted as a tax haven if the EU applies its own criteria member states, Oxfam has said.

The EU is expected to publish its first tax haven blacklist at its Ecofin meeting on 5 December.

Based on conservative estimates, Oxfam’s report – Blacklist or Whitewash – recommends that the blacklist should include 35 countries, including United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Singapore and Hong Kong.

It says that the EU list aims to look solely at countries outside the EU.

However, it argues that this harms the credibility of the process, as EU member states such as Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands are “some of the most powerful tax havens in the world, enabling some of the biggest corporations in the world to pay minimal tax”.

Irish tax evasion

The report reviewed the 92 countries included on the EU list as well as the 28 EU member states.

It argues that Ireland fails to meet the criterion of fair taxation. Luxembourg Malta and the Netherlands also failed to meet the criteria.

It noted that citizens have witnessed the role of several EU states, including Ireland, in multinationals’ tax avoidance schemes, such as the recent Apple and Amazon tax scandals.

Examining how Ireland fails to meet the criteria, the report says that royalties sent out of Ireland in 2015 represented more than 26% of the country’s gross domestic product.

This is more royalties than are sent out of the rest of the EU combined, and makes Ireland the world’s number one royalties provider.

This report isn’t the first time that Oxfam has claimed Ireland is a tax haven.

It released a report in 2016, Tax Battles, which exposed the world’s most aggressive corporate tax havens. It included Ireland on a list of 15 countries.

The report concludes that it is time for the EU to take action to “hold multinationals and problematic tax jurisdictions – including some EU member states – to account, to stop resources being diverted from developing countries”.

“Tax havens are the result of a rigged global tax system. They are playing a leading role in the global corporate tax race-to-the-bottom. This must change if we want to finance development and fight inequality around the globe,” the report said.

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