Thursday, 14 February 2019
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
6. To ask the Minister for Finance if consideration will be given to establishing another review on the sustainability of corporation tax receipts along the lines of the Coffey review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7370/19]
This question is very similar to a previous priority question so I do not intend to press the issue. However, I would like to take the opportunity to raise a related point. The Minister, in his earlier answer, said that there were evolving issues that could result in downward pressure on corporation tax receipts and other issues that could result in receipts getting even stronger. What does the Minister make of Deputy Commissioner Moscovici's remarks during the week to the effect that Ireland and "other headstrong states", as he said, prevented the digital tax proposals from coming into effect? Can he confirm that it remains the Government's position that taxation decisions should require unanimity and that we do not support a move to qualified majority voting in respect of corporation tax, which might have an impact on receipts?
Before I refer back to the comment the Deputy made, it is the case that my position is unchanged in terms of how taxation decisions are made within the European Union. I have been at the forefront of making this case over the last 18 months. The difference now is the growing number of countries which feel the same way about how taxation decisions are made: they are now aware of the need for that case to be made. Ireland has been involved in making that case for quite a while.
On Deputy Commissioner Moscovici's description of Ireland, I may have been headstrong but I have been defending our national interest on this issue over the last year and a half. I believe that the way in which the digital economy is taxed will change. Ireland has to be a part of that journey and we have to be constructive in that regard. The safest way that can happen is on a global basis, through the Organisation for Economic and Co-operation and Development, OECD. I repeat to the Deputy what I have said on previous occasions here and in other fora; if Europe takes it own path on this issue there will be consequences and I am concerned that Ireland will be at the fore of experiencing those consequences. We should approach this in the same way we approached the BEPS process and be willing to make changes that at times can have consequences for us, but make sure that it is done in a co-ordinated way with global partners, ensuring that it tries to minimise a trade risk. That is the safest journey for Ireland to take.
Can the Minister provide a comment on recent reports that the OECD is moving ahead, perhaps faster than expected, with its own proposals around taxing the digital economy? I am aware that Pascal Saint-Amans has made some remarks, and it has certainly been reported that OECD plans are more advanced than we had understood them to be. Can the Minister confirm whether his Department and officials have been working in an intensive way in recent weeks and months at OECD level? Can he provide an update on that matter? Is the Minister expecting the OECD to bring forward fleshed-out proposals in this space sooner rather than later?
The timeline the OECD is now meeting is a revised timeline that was put in place last year. The Deputy may recall last summer, in the aftermath of an informal meeting of European finance ministers, when the OECD committed to revised timelines and said that it would seek to pursue this work in what they said was an inclusive format and seek to publish a roadmap to cover this year. I believe those revised timelines will be met. My officials have been participating in these discussions over the last number of weeks. It is likely that the OECD will begin to publish different options regarding how it believes this issue can be progressed. There are many, many differing views within the OECD on how this issue can be dealt with.