McGrath warns on tax in face of volatile US

McGrath warns on tax in face of volatile US
DAY 92 - In this April 21, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump poses for a portrait in the Oval Office in Washington after an interview with The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Mr Trump released a document on Wednesday setting out his tax goals, which include cuts to personal taxation and, significantly for Ireland, a drop in corporation tax from 35% to 15% - close to Ireland's 12.5% rate. While the details were not mentioned in the document, he has also proposed a low flat tax rate so that US corporations can repatriate profits back home.

Mr McGrath said that Ireland does not need to be immediately concerned about the affects of these tax changes, as they may never come to fruition, but said that uncertainty needs to be tackled.

"All we have so far is a one pager on his proposed changes to tax policy. There is a long road to travel before those proposals become law," he said.

Mr McGrath said that the Mr Trump would need to get congressional approval for any plans, and that will be difficult when some bodies estimate that these proposals could add up to $2 trillion to the national deficit in just ten years. Due to the complicated rules of the Congress, Mr Trump may have to look at making the tax cuts cost neutral, but this could be unpalatable to elected representatives due to the cuts to services and spending that would be needed to offset them.

However, Mr McGrath said that the "critical twin threats" of the Trump administration and Brexit meant that companies operating in Ireland were experiencing uncertainty. He said that some companies even hesitated to make announcements about investments overseas for fear of a backlash from the White House.

He said that Ireland needed to protect its own tax rate and business environment in order to stay competitive and fend off any issues caused by Mr Trump or Brexit.

Conor Healy, CEO of Cork Chamber, said that was pleased that Mr Trump's plans did not include a border tax which has been mooted in recent weeks. This tax would see low tariffs on exports from the US and high taxes on imports from outside the US.

"That's very significant for Irish exporters, be they Irish companies or multinational companies, some from the US, who are exporting from here," he said.

He also said that Ireland needed to protect its own business environment and corporate tax rate to keep things steady for businesses.

"We need to play to our strengths and work it with our skills and infrastructure and our strong track record with companies seeking to establish themselves in the EU," he said.

He said that he also wanted to see the Trump administration bring more detail and certainty to these tax proposals as quickly as possible to remove uncertainty for businesses.

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