Low-tax Ireland awaits OECD overhaul on global tax

Ireland expects to receive an updated text of the OECD’s proposed overhaul of global corporate tax rules in the coming days in a “critical moment” for negotiations, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said on Wednesday.

Ireland, the low-tax European headquarters for a number of the world’s largest multinationals, has so far declined to sign up to an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development agreement struck by over 130 of 139 negotiating countries.

The EU member state, which has a corporate tax rate of just 12.5%, has focused its criticism on the agreement’s proposed minimum rate of “at least” 15%.

Agreement on the issue will be sought among all negotiating countries at an OECD meeting on October 8, Donohoe told journalists at a briefing on Wednesday.

“I do expect next week will be a critical moment for the negotiations that have been underway for years and will show whether an agreement is possible by the end of next week,” Donohoe said, adding that it was too soon to say if Irish concerns would be addressed.

Donohoe was speaking after a meeting of G7 finance ministers that he attended in his role as president of the Eurogroup, the grouping of euro zone finance ministers. He said he was asked by his colleagues to put forward Ireland’s position and said he had focused on Ireland’s opposition to a rate of “at least” 15%.

Irish ministers have also said they are closely watching whether a deeply-divided US Congress will accept President Joe Biden’s proposed tax increases before seeing whether a final agreement is possible.

“In order for this change to actually happen, everybody who is involved in this change wants confidence that everyone is going to move on it and that would be a concern for more than Ireland,” Donohoe said when asked if Dublin would wait to see if Congress passes the measures before deciding its own position.

Agreement from Ireland, one of the countries that has benefited most from low corporate taxes – with multinational firms employing around one in eight workers there – would be a big boost for the project to impose a minimum global rate.

Ireland and other holdouts cannot block the proposed changes. (Reuters)