Miriam Hederman O’Brien Prize for 2020 Call for Nominations

The Foundation for Fiscal Studies presents the annual Miriam Hederman O’Brien Prize to recognise outstanding contributors in the area of Irish fiscal policy. The aim is to recognise those who promote the study and discussion of fiscal, economic and social policy, and work that attempts to answer questions that relate to how we might make Ireland a better place to live.

The Prize forms an important part of the Foundation’s objective of promoting understanding and knowledge in these areas. Winners and shortlisted work from previous years are listed on the Foundation’s website (fiscal.ie).

Call for Nominations
Nominations are invited for work completed during 2020 that has added to the public knowledge or understanding in areas such as taxation, public expenditure and other related fiscal policy topics. The Prize aims to recognise work that focus on practical problems rather than abstract puzzles, that raise questions about how policy impacts and might improve outcomes, or shed light on issues that really matter to the future of Ireland as a society as well as an economy.

Nominated work may include individuals or institutions with output such research papers, reports, books, book chapters, blog posts, opinion pieces, newspaper articles, television or radio contributions/documentaries or any other method which has publicly provided new and relevant insights into these topics in Ireland.

A shortlist of nominations will be compiled with the winners selected by a judging panel for the Prize. The judging panel will consist of national and international experts and is chaired by Foundation’s Chairman.

The successful contribution will be awarded the Miriam Hederman O’Brien Prize for 2020, which includes a cash prize of €1,000 and commemorative Gold Medal. The judging panel may also recognise other contributions from different categories or other types of contributions and award them appropriately.

Criteria / Eligibility
• The Prize is for work completed during the period 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020.
• There are no age or nationality criteria.
• No individual may be awarded the Prize more than once. Previous winners can still be nominated and may be recognised for an award other than the main prize.
• Jointly-produced work will be considered, provided that no contributor has previously been awarded the Prize.
• Work produced by an institution rather than a named or specific author may be submitted and institutions are eligible even if they have previously won the Prize.

The Nomination Process
• The closing date for nominations is 28 May 2021.
• Those making nominations should briefly specify (100-150 words) why they believe the work is suitable for consideration for the Prize. They should also provide a weblink or other details of the work being nominated.
• Those making nominations may nominate more than one piece of work.
• Those making nominations are encouraged to nominate any pieces of work they feel meet the criteria for the prize, regardless of whether or not they themselves are the author. Authors may also nominate their own work.
• Nominations for the Prize should be made by email to info@fiscal.ie.

Sean Barrett on Building Houses

Sean Barrett in the Irish Independent writes on a two-step solution to our housing crisis – cut costs and build more, simple as that.

The Made in America Tax Plan

Extract from White House fact sheet on the American Jobs Plan:

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Alongside the American Jobs Plan, the President is proposing to fix the corporate tax code so that it incentivizes job creation and investment here in the United States, stops unfair and wasteful profit shifting to tax havens, and ensures that large corporations are paying their fair share.

The 2017 tax law only made an unfair system worse. A recent independent study found that 91 Fortune 500 companies paid $0 in federal corporate taxes on U.S. income in 2018. In fact, according to recent analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation, the 2017 tax bill cut the average rate that corporations paid in half from 16 percent to less than 8 percent in 2018. A number of the provisions in the 2017 law also created new incentives to shift profits and jobs overseas. President Biden’s reform will reverse this damage and fundamentally reform the way the tax code treats the largest corporations.

President Biden’s reform will also make the United States a leader again in the world and help bring an end to the race-to-the-bottom on corporate tax rates that allows countries to gain a competitive advantage by becoming tax havens. This is a generational opportunity to fundamentally shift how countries around the world tax corporations so that big corporations can’t escape or eliminate the taxes they owe by offshoring jobs and profits from the United States.

Together these corporate tax changes will raise over $2 trillion over the next 15 years and more than pay for the mostly one-time investments in the American Jobs Plan and then reduce deficits on a permanent basis:

  • Set the Corporate Tax Rate at 28 percent. The President’s tax plan will ensure that corporations pay their fair share of taxes by increasing the corporate tax rate to 28 percent. His plan will return corporate tax revenue as a share of the economy to around its 21st century average from before the 2017 tax law and well below where it stood before the 1980s. This will help fund critical investments in infrastructure, clean energy, R&D, and more to maintain the competitiveness of the United States and grow the economy.
  • Discourage Offshoring by Strengthening the Global Minimum Tax for U.S. Multinational Corporations. Right now, the tax code rewards U.S. multinational corporations that shift profits and jobs overseas with a tax exemption for the first ten percent return on foreign assets, and the rest is taxed at half the domestic tax rate. Moreover, the 2017 tax law allows companies to use the taxes they pay in high-tax countries to shield profits in tax havens, encouraging offshoring of jobs. The President’s tax reform proposal will increase the minimum tax on U.S. corporations to 21 percent and calculate it on a country-by-country basis so it hits profits in tax havens. It will also eliminate the rule that allows U.S. companies to pay zero taxes on the first 10 percent of return when they locate investments in foreign countries. By creating incentives for investment here in the United States, we can reward companies that help to grow the U.S. economy and create a more level playing field between domestic companies and multinationals. 
  • End the Race to the Bottom Around the World. The United States can lead the world to end the race to the bottom on corporate tax rates. A minimum tax on U.S. corporations alone is insufficient. That can still allow foreign corporations to strip profits out of the United States, and U.S. corporations can potentially escape U.S. tax by inverting and switching their headquarters to foreign countries. This practice must end. President Biden is also proposing to encourage other countries to adopt strong minimum taxes on corporations, just like the United States, so that foreign corporations aren’t advantaged and foreign countries can’t try to get a competitive edge by serving as tax havens. This plan also denies deductions to foreign corporations on payments that could allow them to strip profits out of the United States if they are based in a country that does not adopt a strong minimum tax. It further replaces an ineffective provision in the 2017 tax law that tried to stop foreign corporations from stripping profits out of the United States. The United States is now seeking a global agreement on a strong minimum tax through multilateral negotiations. This provision makes our commitment to a global minimum tax clear. The time has come to level the playing field and no longer allow countries to gain a competitive edge by slashing corporate tax rates.
  • Prevent U.S. Corporations from inverting or claiming tax havens as their residence. Under current law, U.S. corporations can acquire or merge with a foreign company to avoid U.S. taxes by claiming to be a foreign company, even though their place of management and operations are in the United States. President Biden is proposing to make it harder for U.S. corporations to invert. This will backstop the other reforms which should address the incentive to do so in the first place.
  • Deny Companies Expense Deductions for Offshoring Jobs and Credit Expenses for Onshoring. President Biden’s reform proposal will also make sure that companies can no longer write off expenses that come from offshoring jobs. This is a matter of fairness. U.S. taxpayers shouldn’t subsidize companies shipping jobs abroad. Instead, President Biden is also proposing to provide a tax credit to support onshoring jobs.
  • Eliminate a Loophole for Intellectual Property that Encourages Offshoring Jobs and Invest in Effective R&D Incentives. The President’s ambitious reform of the tax code also includes reforming the way it promotes research and development. This starts with a complete elimination of the tax incentives in the Trump tax law for “Foreign Derived Intangible Income” (FDII), which gave corporations a tax break for shifting assets abroad and is ineffective at encouraging corporations to invest in R&D. All of the revenue from repealing the FDII deduction will be used to expand more effective R&D investment incentives.
  • Enact A Minimum Tax on Large Corporations’ Book Income. The President’s tax reform will also ensure that large, profitable corporations cannot exploit loopholes in the tax code to get by without paying U.S. corporate taxes. A 15 percent minimum tax on the income corporations use to report their profits to investors—known as “book income”—will backstop the tax plan’s other ambitious reforms and apply only to the very largest corporations.
  • Eliminate Tax Preferences for Fossil Fuels and Make Sure Polluting Industries Pay for Environmental Clean Up. The current tax code includes billions of dollars in subsidies, loopholes, and special foreign tax credits for the fossil fuel industry. As part of the President’s commitment to put the country on a path to net-zero emissions by 2050, his tax reform proposal will eliminate all these special preferences. The President is also proposing to restore payments from polluters into the Superfund Trust Fund so that polluting industries help fairly cover the cost of cleanups.
  • Ramping Up Enforcement Against Corporations. All of these measures will make it much harder for the largest corporations to avoid or evade taxes by eliminating parts of the tax code that are too easily abused. This will be paired with an investment in enforcement to make sure corporations pay their fair share. Typical workers’ wages are reported to the IRS and their employer withholds, so they pay all the taxes they owe. By contrast, large corporations have at their disposal loopholes they exploit to avoid or evade tax liabilities, and an army of high-paid tax advisors and accountants who help them get away with this. At the same time, an under-funded IRS lacks the capacity to scrutinize these suspect tax maneuvers: A decade ago, essentially all large corporations were audited annually by the IRS; today, audit rates are less than 50 percent. This plan will reverse these trends, and make sure that the Internal Revenue Service has the resources it needs to effectively enforce the tax laws against corporations. This will be paired with a broader enforcement initiative to be announced in the coming weeks that will address tax evasion among corporations and high-income Americans.

These are key steps toward a fairer tax code that encourages investment in the United States, stops shifting of jobs and profits abroad, and makes sure that corporations pay their fair share. The President looks forward to working with Congress, and will be putting forward additional ideas in the coming weeks for reforming our tax code so that it rewards work and not wealth, and makes sure the highest income individuals pay their fair share.

2021 Economic Letters from the Central Bank

Volume 2021 of the Central Bank’s Economic Letters series has seen a set of interesting contributions across a range of topics so far this year. The Economic Letters published to date are:

Professor Gerry Hughes, RIP

Prof. Gerry Hughes passed away on Friday. The funeral notice is here. A brief summary of his career is available from the ESRI here.

Gerry Hughes was awarded a Research Fellowship from the ESRI from 1977 to 1979. He was at the ESRI from 1968 (taking secondment to the NESC in the 1970s) and retired as a Research Professor in 2006. His ESRI publications may be accessed on the ESRI web-site. Since retiring from the Institute he has been a Visiting Professor at the School of Business, Trinity College Dublin and also a Visiting Professor at the Department of Economics, University College Cork. His research is on the effects of pension financing on national savings and on the cost and distributional effects of tax expenditure on private pensions.

He remained active in retirement and was a recent recipient of the Miriam Hederman O’Brien Prize from the Foundation for Fiscal Studies for work on pensions with Micheál Collins of UCD.