July 2013 Archives

Untaxing Exiles

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Proposals for extra tax breaks for tax exiles must rank as the leading contender for this year's silly season story. 

A Government-backed Forum on Philanthropy has suggested that 400 Irish tax exiles might invest €15 million each over ten years in return for being able to live in Ireland for six months in every year while simultaneously claiming to be tax exiles and paying minimal tax elsewhere.

This aspiration is a bit rich given that only a handful of wealthy exiles have bothered to pay the recently introduced domicile levy based on their worldwide income and wealth. In my naivety, I had always assumed that philanthropy was linked to donating rather than tax breaks.

Instead of loosening requirements and becoming a tax haven for rich exiles, Irish tax rules should lean towards US laws where exile means absolute rather than part-time exile.  The proposed PAYC (Pay-As-You-Choose) should be replaced by PAYE on worldwide incomes, or face forfeiture of all rights to citizenship, residence and even occasional visits.

Letter published in the Sunday Business Post on 28th July 2013.

See & Hear No Evil

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The search for the Anglo tapes whistleblower reminds us that the only person convicted in connection with the Beef Tribunal was a whistleblowing journalist.

The Minister of Finance has reportedly complained, in relation to the tapes, that the media should stop "mucking around in garda business".  Surely, politicians are the parties most guilty of "mucking around" for having failed to set up a robust and comprehensive public inquiry into the most damaging event in the State's history.

They also appear to have failed to provide adequate resources to the Fraud Squad, Director of Public Prosecutions and Office of Corporate Enforcement to complete rapid and extensive investigations into events that have left citizens footing a bill for at least €64 billion.

Lead letter in the Sunday Business Post on 14th July 2013.

Inquire and Take Action

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Through greed, incompetence and negligence a few hundred people have set this country back decades in economic and social terms, and have sullied its international reputation. In the few cases where "sanctions" have been applied, they have amounted to big pensions and fat payoffs instead of sanctions and reparation.

Notwithstanding the magnitude and duration of the crisis, we still have no clear plans for a proper public banking inquiry. As in other countries, a comprehensive, lawyer-free and apolitical inquiry could expose systemic failures and serve as a pathfinder for possible prosecutions. To progress this, last years's referendum on Oireachtas inquiries should be rerun in lieu of the planned Seanad referendum.

Because white collar crime can be extremely difficult to prove due to its complexity, wriggle room and "memory lapses", civil actions, as an alternative to criminal prosecutions, could be initiated against the key individuals against whom adverse inquiry findings are made. This route could reduce the burden of proof, speed up collection and presentation of evidence and reduce the duration and complexity of legal actions.

Letter published in the Irish Times on 27th June 2013.

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