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There seems to be limited debate on tax avoidance in Ireland.  One gets the impression that the profession feel that if they don’t talk about anti avoidance legislation then it will cease to exist or apply.  The general public both inside and outside Ireland think Ireland is a tax haven and would be shocked to know we have some of the most far reaching anti-avoidance legislation any where in the world.

Taxpayer certainty is being sacrificed for the “public good”, sledge hammers are being used to crack nuts, and the Irish Revenue, like any “responsible” fisc are using the financial crisis to increase their powers.

At the same time, unsure as to whether we should be a haven skews the debate in terms of corporation tax avoidance.  Our love of US MNCs and our absolute (if flawed) conviction that our 12.5% tax rate is what attracts them leads the voting public to be excessively invested in corporation tax policy.  The man on the street is against the CCCTB without knowing any thing about it.  The official position is that we are pro-BEPS and in time that will also be the view of the man on the street.

Yet I must admit that it is odd that in the same year our Minister for Finance and Taoiseach can openly talk about Apple “only engaging in US tax avoidance” their Government significantly strengthens the GAAR and Revenue’s powers to deal with “Irish tax avoidance”.

I don’t approve of the more aggressive tax planning out there, the kind that magics a tax loss out of thin air and I have never advised on that basis.  But I worry that tax authorities are moving too far, too fast, too unilaterally to deal with it.  And it will come as a surprise to many that Ireland is no exception in this regard.

About me – I’m Aisling Donohue.   I’ve been a tax adviser for over 15 years.  I qualified in a Big 4 firm in the UK before moving back to the Irish office, and back again…  I now work in a small firm and am absolutely shocked at what passes for “tax advice” at this level.

This leads me to suspect that the profession have a lot to answer for when it comes to the draconian legislation which we now see.

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