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The Briefcase: A Northern Ireland tax showdown, Nama plans and UTV everywhere
This was the week in business.

EVERY WEEK, takes a breather from the hubbub of the daily news cycle and looks back on all the important – and a few less-so-important – happenings from the world of business and finance.

So here’s what has been shaking up monetary circles through this working week:

Need to know

It’s rare that a politician really nails it in a speech on, well, anything. But we have to give credit where due to Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who this week played to the crowd at a corporate tax conference:

Tax is no longer a minority sport. We are now looking at a time when tax no longer is relegated to just the business pages, it is now front-page news where multinationals’ tax affairs are scrutinised and where each countries’ taxation regime is analysed in detail.”

Rarely have an elected official’s words proven so true in a week during which, in particular, the tax plans of the Republic’s northern cousins took up a lot of column inches.

After a few strong hints from the UK government early in the week, Chancellor George Osborne officially backed handing power to the Northern Ireland government to set its own corporate tax rate.

That would open the door for the assembly to undercut the UK’s blanket 21% corporate tax rate and go head-to-head for company business with Ireland and its renowned 12.5% regime.

Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said he wasn’t worried about the development, adding: “More power to them, we thrive on competition. We will compete and continue to compete hard.”

Meanwhile, at the conference, Noonan admitted Ireland had made some mistakes on its tax affairs in the past – pointing to the infamous Double Irish loophole, among other, domestic shortcomings.

But he also took a swipe at the EU’s fixation with the tax affairs of US multinationals, which he said often left Ireland “caught in the crossfire”. Take that pesky alleged sweetheart deal between the Republic and Apple, for instance.

28/112014. French Minister for Finance Michael Sap Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland Finance Minister Michael Noonan was still having a good time recently with French counterpart, Michael Sapi Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Company accounts out from Facebook’s Irish subsidiary also revealed it paid only €2.3 million in corporate tax last year on a staggering €2.9 billion in revenue.

Still, on the whole it has been a good year for tax in Ireland, to paraphrase Noonan again. The latest Exchequer returns, out this week, showed its tax take was up €1.13 billion so far this year compared to what was predicted in the Budget.

Nice to know

Now you know

Printer Mario Draghi Ondrej Kloucek Ondrej Kloucek

One for the road

Back in the heady days of 2012, South Korea’s best-known galloping pop star, PSY, was a pretty big deal. Known in his home country for his absurd on-stage performances, he shot to stardom when his track, Gangnam Style, started going seriously bonkers around the world.

But a little-known fact about the song was that the clip featuring Psy’s now-trademark dance style forced YouTube to redraw its 32-bit system for counting views as it clocked 2 (and a bit) billion hits – numbers the site never expected to see.


officialpsy / YouTube

Originally published 6 December

READ: Black Friday, Europe vs Google and sweet broadband dreams >

READ: Not-so-Irish brands, Sweden’s helping hand and Darth Vader’s deep pockets >

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