Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Questions (154, 155, 156)

Robert Dowds

Question:

154. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Finance in view of the manipulation of a double tax convention between Ireland and Zambia by Zambia Sugar to avoid paying withholding taxes in either jurisdiction, if he will consider following the example of the Netherlands and Denmark and reviewing all such tax treaties with developing countries to ensure they are fit for purpose, thereby preventing such manipulation. [11313/13]

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Robert Dowds

Question:

155. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Finance if he follows certain clear principles when negotiating double tax treaties with developing countries; and if he will outline what those principles are. [11314/13]

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Robert Dowds

Question:

156. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Finance his plans to introduce automatic sharing of information concerning the manipulation by companies for tax purposes of double tax agreements between Ireland and developing countries, as recommended by the OECD, and which could assist in protecting the tax base of both Ireland and the developing country. [11315/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 154 to 156, inclusive, together.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that in the normal course of updating and extending Ireland’s double taxation treaty base, the provisions of those treaties are regularly evaluated with a view to ensuring their adequacy from Ireland’s perspective but also from the point of view of treaty partner countries. While the other country’s perspective will always be fully set out in the course of negotiations, it is also necessary that the terms of Ireland’s new tax treaties should be mindful of the interests of, and acceptable to, existing treaty partners. Several treaties may be under re-negotiation at any one time, requiring a review of the existing provisions. While the Revenue Commissioners cannot comment in relation to any specific case, they have informed me that the Zambian tax authorities have not expressed any concerns in relation to the application of the treaty with Ireland.

An underlying principle of tax treaty negotiation with any country is to view the agreement as a vital piece of fiscal infrastructure that should have a positive effect on both jurisdictions concerned. In negotiating double taxation treaties, the Revenue Commissioners aim to reach a convergence of positions that will ensure that the treaty is effective and efficient, meets the interests of each side as far as possible, is acceptable in both countries and works well in practice.

All of Ireland’s double taxation agreements already contain provisions for the exchange, between the tax authorities, of information necessary to give effect to the agreements and to the domestic tax law of the contracting states. These provisions, which follow the OECD Model Convention, allow for information to be exchanged between treaty partners in three ways: on request (in relation to a particular case), spontaneously (where one State has acquired information which it thinks may be of interest to the other State), and automatically (where the information covers many cases of a similar kind which can be transmitted systematically on a regular basis).

Ireland is fully involved in, and supportive of, the discussions at OECD on the extensions to the automatic exchange of information for tax purposes. In addition, Ireland has signed up to the joint Council of Europe/OECD Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. In response to a call from the G20 in 2009 “to make it easier for developing countries to secure the benefits of the new co-operative tax environment”, a Protocol was developed to amend this Convention to open it up to all countries. Ireland signed the Convention and the Protocol in June 2011.