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Seventy-four percent of UK executives surveyed by KPMG said they see Ireland as having one of the top three most competitive tax regimes.
KPMG has published the findings of its Annual Survey of Tax Competitiveness 2016, which are based on interviews with 100 senior tax decision makers in the largest UK-listed companies and foreign-owned subsidiaries and 60 companies from across the other G7 nations.
Participants were asked to name the countries with the most, second-most, and third-most competitive tax regimes. Based on overall mentions in the top three by UK-based executives, Ireland came out on top (74 percent of mentions), with the UK second (65 percent), and Luxembourg third (42 percent).
KPMG said there is a noticeably widening gap between Ireland and the UK in the competitiveness rankings, with the difference in overall mentions among UK executives up from one percent in 2015 to nine percent in 2016. It also noted that among the 60 non-UK executives surveyed, the UK fell from first to fifth places in the rankings.
More broadly, those surveyed in 2016 placed greater emphasis than previously on a low effective tax rate in determining the appeal of a country's tax regime.
Robin Walduck, Tax Partner at KPMG in the UK, commented: "For companies already investing or located in the UK, their perspective is that it is an attractive place to do business and executives are broadly confident about the country's future prospects. For those on the outside looking in, the picture is looking less positive and businesses are markedly more bearish. As Brexit negotiations get underway, this begs the question whether UK respondents are being too bullish with misplaced optimism, or if non-UK respondents are being too quick to discount the UK."
KPMG said that, reassuringly, its research shows that companies are not planning to withdraw their entire operations from the UK. However, it did find that the percentage of businesses seeking to move functions into the UK dropped in 2016, with executives citing Brexit as likely to have the greatest impact on investments and activities in the next 12 months.
Ireland also fared well when participants were asked to identify the country they believed to be the most attractive as a destination for FDI. It ranked first among UK respondents (39 percent), with the UK in second place (24 percent), and Luxembourg in third (16 percent). Ireland took the top spot among non-UK executives, moving up the rankings from sixth place in 2015.
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