Multinationals make very real profits from charging for the use of their IP. In 2015, the trading profit made by multinationals in Ireland on their IP shot up by €26bn. This was completely offset by capital allowances they received - basically reducing their taxable profit on that to close to zero. To put it in perspective if we had allowed just 80pc of that to be set against capital allowances, we could have taxed 20pc of it at 12.5pc. It could have yielded around €650m in tax.
The measure is linked to the recently published Review of Ireland’s Corporation Tax Code and Richard Curran’s piece throws light on most of the key issues, except one: the link to Ireland’s contribution to the EU budget. This is referenced in paragraph 9.3.11 of the review:
Figures from the Revenue Commissioners and Tancred (2017) show that there was a €26 billion increase in intangible-asset related gross trading profits in 2015. This was offset by an increase in the amount of capital allowances for intangible assets of a similar scale. These gross trading profits are included in Ireland’s Gross National Income but the use of capital allowances results in a much smaller amount being included in the taxable income base for Ireland’s Corporation Tax. Given Ireland’s contribution to the EU Budget is calculated by reference to Gross National Income, this increase in profits has an impact.
Assessing this impact was beyond the scope of the review but is something which the seven-page note linked below attempts to address. With lots of moving parts precision is difficult to achieve but the broad elements of the issue should hopefully stand out.
Update: Here is a bullet-point summary
- In 2015 intangible-asset-related gross trading profits of multinationals operating in Ireland increased by €26 billion.
- In the same year claims for capital allowances related to expenditure on intangible assets increased by €26 billion.
- No Corporation Tax is due on the gross profits offset by capital allowances
- Using estimates from the Department of Finance implies that these figures have risen to around €35 billion for 2017.
- These untaxed profits are included in Ireland’s Gross National Income which adds about €200 million to the country’s contribution to the EU budget.
- A cap on the amount of capital allowances that can be used in a single year is to be introduced for new claims for capital allowances on intangibles.
- Based on patterns for the past two years the Department of Finance forecast that this will result in €150 million of additional Corporation Tax being paid in 2018.
- The Revenue Commissioners figures for 2015 and the Department of Finances estimates of the impact of recent onshoring imply that intangible-asset-related gross trading profits are expected to be around €40 billion in 2018 (with a further €36 million added to the EU contribution).
- If the cap applied to all claims, existing and new, then the additional Corporation Tax to be collected in 2018 could be up to €1 billion using the 2015 figure published by Revenue and estimates from that time used by Finance.
- If companies who are expected to move IP here in future years are happy to pay the tax now why doesn’t the same apply for companies who already have IP here?