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AmCham Ireland Releases Pre-Budget Submission

by Jason Gorringe, Tax-News.com, London

22 November 2007


The American Chamber of Commerce has submitted a series of proposed taxation initiatives in its pre-budget submission to the Irish government, which it argues will help Ireland remain an attractive location for foreign direct investment.

Speaking at the Chamber's Annual Thanksgiving Lunch, which was addressed by Finance Minister Brian Cowen, Jim O Hara, President of the Chamber explained that: "Taxation is one area over which the government has sovereignty and, as we continue to be impacted by global developments and a loss of competitiveness in our cost base, it provides a key opportunity for government to introduce measures which will help differentiate Ireland from other jurisdictions when competing for foreign direct investment."

Specific measures recommended by the American Chamber included, amongst others, the reinstatement of the employers' PRSI (Pay Related Social Insurance) ceiling.

"Currently there is no ceiling on the amount of PRSI employers must pay in respect of employee salaries. This has resulted in considerable additional costs for employers. The Chamber recommends that the ceiling for employers' PRSI be reinstated to minimise the costs associated with maintaining existing employment levels as well as assisting in attracting new inward investment," Mr O'Hara announced.

The Chamber has also sought measures to make Ireland a more attractive location for professional workers from other countries. "While Irish personal tax rates are comparable with most other developed countries, our infrastructural deficit combined with the high cost of housing does act as a deterrent. As a result key workers tend to favour other jurisdictions such as Switzerland or the UK," Mr O'Hara noted.

"These individuals are often key influencers in the foreign direct investment decisions of multinational companies so their loss to the Irish economy has major long-term consequences," he observed, adding that the Chamber is seeking a system of tax reliefs specifically targeted at these key workers.

The Chamber is additionally seeking a number of tax changes in areas such as patent royalties and intellectual property. In particular, Mr O'Hara suggested that: "The Irish tax system has a number of features that militate against Ireland as a location for the exploitation of intellectual property. While outbound non-patent royalties do not suffer from Irish withholding tax, patent royalties are liable for this tax. Ireland's competitiveness could be further improved by the abolition of withholding tax on patent royalties and it would place Ireland on a more equal footing with some of our key competitors."

Mr O'Hara added that the Chamber of Commerce believes that the current R&D tax credit regime needs a major overhaul, as is not having the desired impact. "We believe that all the options need to be examined and would welcome consultation between the departments of Finance and Enterprise, Trade and Employment with a view to agreeing an effective solution which would stimulate and support greater investment in R&D," he announced.

Other measures sought by the American Chamber in its pre-budget submission include a reduction of tax on foreign dividends from the current 25% to zero, or at the very minimum 12.5%.

A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series looking at offshore and onshore corporate structures and their tax implications is available in the Lowtax Library at http://www.lowtaxlibrary.com/asp/subs_reports.asp and a description of the report can be seen at http://www.lowtaxlibrary.com/asp/description_report7.asp

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