Wednesday, 17th January 2018
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Paradise papers

One of the most surprising things about the release of the copious amounts of tax details of some of the richest people on the planet wasn't the names of the people involved but the fact that three of them were actors from Mrs. Brown's Boys. Between them the three had accounts nearing 2 million euros in off-shore accounts and let's face it, these people aren't exactly Robert De Niros or Meryl Streeps but three bog standard, and that's putting it mildly, actors, from a middling comedy series that has been on the telly for just a few years. But then again, you might say that they are being clever with the money that they've earned so far by putting it in a low tax haven in a sunny part of the world. Indeed you might say that about all of the people and companies that were part of the Paradise Papers because, while they might have been involved in tax avoidance which is legal they weren't involved in tax evasion which is illegal.

The Panama Papers which were published some time ago detailed people and companies that were actively involved in tax evasion and had some serious legal questions to answer but the Paradise Papers are completely legal even though many people have been embarrassed by their financial dealings becoming public fodder. It surely didn't go down too well at Buckingham Palace when it was known that the Queen's name was one of the most high profile of those listed in the Paradise Papers, or that of her son's Prince Charles.

Out of the companies who were shown to be availing of low tax rates, Facebook and Twitter are amongst the most high profile. But then again it has to be said that what they are doing is completely legal. Aside from the legality of their actions there is the question as to whether it is moral? Of course there is a case to be made that intricate financial dealings in some of the world's lighter tax regimes are inherently immoral but here is where Ireland is on less firm ground. Ireland is after all one of those countries where low tax rates are routinely used to lure big companies to set up shop here. It has been criticised numerous times by American politicians and even our Government has gone against the EU by saying that it won't apply higher tax bands on foreign companies when they set up here.

It seems that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander so Ireland really doesn't have a leg to stand on when it comes to any criticism of those in the Paradise Papers.


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