Ireland fails to back global corporate tax proposal over 15% rate

DUBLIN (Reuters) -Ireland declined on Thursday to sign a statement backed by 130 of 139 countries negotiating a global overhaul of the taxation of multinational companies, balking at a proposed minimum rate of 15%, its finance minister said.

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Paschal Donohoe, also president of euro zone’s grouping of finance ministers, said Ireland supported much of the agreement and would continue to negotiate up to an October deadline.

A statement by the 130 countries at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development backed plans for a minimum tax rate and taxing more of the profits of the biggest multinationals in countries where the profits are earned.

But Ireland, whose 12.5% rate that has helped convince some of the world’s biggest multinationals to employ one in eight workers in the country, said the agreement was not yet acceptable.

“I was not in a position to join the consensus on the agreement and specifically a global minimum effective tax rate of ‘at least 15%’ today,” Donohoe said in a statement.

“I have expressed Ireland’s reservation, but remain committed to the process and aim to find an outcome that Ireland can yet support.”

Donohoe said he supported “Pillar One” which proposes a re-allocation of a proportion of tax to the country where the profit is earned, as it would “bring stability and certainty to the international tax framework.”

But he told journalists he objected to the minimum rate contained in “Pillar Two” and would “continue to make the case on issues that matter to Ireland.” He declined to say what those issues were.

“When we approach October, we will be even clearer regarding what an agreement will look like. And we will negotiate and engage up to that point,” he said.

Some of the countries who agreed to sign the agreement may have to work to justify the decision domestically, he added.

“Any minister, having made the decision today will have to explain that decision to their parliament and their governments,” he said.

Ireland has said it wants any deal to allow small countries to use tax competition as a lever to compensate for the natural advantages enjoyed by larger countries in attracting jobs and investments. Critics say low-tax countries like Ireland enjoy a disproportionate share.

Donohoe has also called for any final deal to allow companies to offset part of their tax bills through research and development.

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