Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Questions (3)

Joan Burton


3. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance his views on the issues that have come to light arising from publication of the Panama papers, in particular the use by certain parties of tax havens as a means of avoiding paying tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10831/16]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

A significant volume of information has recently come into the public domain relating to Panama. As is the case when any such information comes to their attention, it is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners to examine this information.

It would be a matter for the Revenue Commissioners to decide whether Irish tax has been avoided and, if so, whether the arrangements should be challenged either under specific sections in the tax code or by using the general anti-avoidance legislation. If it is found that the Irish tax base has been eroded, then action would be taken as appropriate. The Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners has assured me that Revenue will make the fullest possible use of any relevant information in pursuing any cases where it appears that tax liabilites have not been addressed.  I have written to the Chairman assuring him of my support for any legislative measures that may be needed to tackle any issues which are identified by this work.

International tax evasion is a worldwide problem which can only be tackled effectively when countries work together. Ireland continues to support the OECD "Base Erosion and Profit Shifting" process and supports the work at EU level to increase fiscal transparency through initiatives like Country by Country Reporting to tax authorities. In this regard, I am delighted that Ireland was one of the first countries to legislate for Country by Country reporting in the most recent Finance Act.

The Panama Papers has also led to an increased focus on the beneficial ownership of companies. Ireland, along with the majority of EU Member States, has committed to a pilot project for the automatic exchange of information on the ultimate beneficial owners of companies.  The G20 has also mandated the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes to make initial proposals by October 2016 on ways to improve the availability, and exchange, of information about the beneficial ownership of entities.  As a member of the Global Forum, Ireland will be actively involved in this work.

Ireland is also working on transposing the latest Anti-Money Laundering Directive which includes a requirement for Member States to establish a register of beneficial owners.  The Directive is currently being transposed by the Department of Justice and Equality with the assistance of my Department. 

Questions Nos. 4 to 12, inclusive, answered orally.