Jim O’Leary has an op-ed about the Local Property Tax in today’s Irish Times, based on his recent report, How (Not) To Do Public Policy: Water Charges and Local Property Tax, published by the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway. The report was launched at a conference last month at NUI Galway featuring senior policymakers, public servants, academics and other experts who evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of the policy-making process in Ireland with a view to suggesting how the quality of policy-making might be improved. Highlights from that conference, including videos of Jim’s presentation and Robert Watt’s keynote speech as well as audio of the panel sessions can be found here on the Whitaker Institute website.
Conference and launch of new report on water charges and the local property tax
1:30pm, Thursday, 13 September 2018
Aula Maxima, The Quadrangle, NUI Galway
Why do some public policy measures succeed while others fail? Why, for example, has the Local Property Tax been a policy success, while the attempt to introduce water charges was a policy disaster? What can we learn from successful and failed policies about the policy-making process in Ireland and how to make that process more effective?
This conference will gather senior policymakers, public servants, academics, and other experts to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the policy-making process in Ireland with a view to suggesting how the quality of policy-making might be improved. Although much analytical attention has been paid to the effects of public policies in Ireland and to the macroeconomic context in which they are set, there has been very little analysis of the policy-making process: How policies are conceived, designed, implemented, communicated, and reviewed. This conference is an attempt to address this gap. View the conference programme here.
The conference will feature the launch of a new Whitaker Institute report by economist Jim O’Leary on water charges and the local property tax. This report, meticulously researched based on exceptional access to senior policymakers, looks back forensically at these two recent policy initiatives and explores what it was about the policy-making process in each case that contributed to success or failure.
This conference is aimed at a general audience and will appeal to anyone with an interest in how public policy is made in Ireland. The event is free and open to the public, however those who wish to attend must pre-register at: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/how-not-to-do-public-policy-tickets-48552806752
This morning Revenue published our Annual Report for 2017. The report contains lots of information on Revenue’s activities and outputs last year that contributed to the collection of €50.8 billion in net receipts for the Exchequer, as well as delivering on service to support compliance, the implementation of customs controls and facilitation of trade.
Also published today are a series of research papers that may interest readers of this blog:
Updated Corporation Tax research profiles tax payments received in 2017 as well as analysis of 2016 tax returns. This includes significant new analysis of multinational companies in Ireland.
An analysis of Income Dynamics and Mobility based on Revenue micro data. This examines the distribution of incomes by decile and percentile as well as tracking mobility of income earners over time.
Profiles of Excise Duty and Capital Taxes receipts. Excise, Capital Acquisitions Tax , Stamp Duty, Capital Gains Tax and Local Property Tax cover wide ranging activities, transactions and products. The profiles document these in detail and show changes in core components in recent years. For the first time, information on capital taxes are combined together with location and earnings data to present new perspectives on the taxes.
Revenue’s latest customer survey, of small to medium sized enterprises in 2017, is Revenue’s fourth SME survey. Responses show that customer satisfaction with Revenue service remains high across a range of headings. The survey also includes a behavioural experiment to test the impact of personalisation on response rates.
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?
From an Irish perspective the most significant announcement made yesterday by Commissioner Vestager was in relation to Amazon not Apple. The Commission announced that Luxembourg had granted €250 million of illegal sate aid to Amazon. The structure used by Amazon in Luxembourg is close to a replica of that used by US companies in Ireland. It is a double-luxembourgish. Here is the Commission’s description of the Amazon structure:
The presentation of the 2017 Miriam Hederman O’Brien prize awarded by the Foundation for Fiscal Studies will take place on the Monday 2nd October from 8:00 -9:30am in the Grafton Suite, The Westbury Hotel, Dublin 2.
The aim of the prize is to recognise outstanding original work from new contributors in the area of Irish fiscal policy, to promote the study and discussion of matters relating to fiscal, economic and social policy and to reward those who demonstrate exceptional research promise. The prize forms an important part of the Foundation’s overall objective of promoting more widely the study and discussion of matters relating to fiscal, economic and social policy.
There will be tea / coffee from 8.00 as well as an opportunity to view stands promoting some of the work and applications nominated for the Award.
The event is free but please register in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Readers may have seen that the Low Pay Commission recently published their report Recommendations on the National Minimum Wage for 2018.
Perhaps of most interest to readers of this blog are the detailed appendices, which include a study by Revenue and Irish Government Economic & Evaluation Service (IGEES) economists Seán Kennedy, Brian Stanley and Gerry McGuinness of the low pay sectors based on tax return microdata. This paper is also separately available here.
The paper examines the incomes and mobility of taxpayers and the profitability of employers in Ireland using Revenue’s tax record data. The distributional and mobility analysis of low income taxpayers is based on a longitudinal dataset, which follows approximately 100,000 taxpayers for 4 years from 2011 to 2014. These taxpayers are stratified random sample drawn from the entire population of 2.1 million tax units on Revenue records. While analysis of incomes in Ireland and internationally is often based on a snapshot at a moment in time, the longitudinal nature of this dataset allows measurement of income mobility over time.
Some of the key findings are as follows:
- One in three taxpayers are low paid, defined as those earning below two-thirds of median income.
- The highest proportions of low paid taxpayers are in the wholesale & retail trade (23 per cent) and accommodation & food (19 per cent) sectors.
- Five low pay sectors are identified, having median incomes that are substantially below the median income for all sectors. They include accommodation & food service activities, wholesale & retail trade and administrative & support service activities. Slightly over one third of employments are in low pay sectors.
- Low pay sectors have the highest proportions of the youngest taxpayers. Two in five taxpayers are aged 24 and under in the accommodation & food sector.
- In the low pay sectors, males earn slightly more than females while in the other sectors females earn more. The sectors with the highest ratio of males to females are construction, transport and agriculture (7.5, 2.9 and 2.8 times respectively).
- In Dublin, median incomes in low pay sectors incomes are 7 per cent higher than those outside Dublin (compared to 9 per cent higher in the other sectors).
Based on an analysis of income mobility, lower paid taxpayers working in low paid sectors have a higher chance of increasing their incomes in future years relative to others within the same sector. For example, in the accommodation & food sector almost half moved upwards from the bottom quintile between 2013 and 2014.