Facebook recently announced its decision to tax its revenues at source and not all in Ireland. This is a double-edged sword for us. On the positive side it prevents a showdown with the EU Commission, which the State wanted to avoid. But, on the other hand, if all other tech multinationals soon follow suit our entire tax base here in Ireland may be eroded.
Preventing a scrap with the EU is important, especially now, because we need the EU on our side for Brexit issues in the months ahead, and we don’t want to be seen as a pariah within the EU. However, the tax base — particularly the corporate tax base — is fragile, and any massive hit to it could result in changes to taxes and spending elsewhere.
We raise around €4 billion from multinationals per year; this is a big sum. Not nearly as big as what Revenue receives from income tax or VAT, but significant nonetheless.
Watch this space for movements from other big multinationals. We’ll be wondering whether the rest will follow Facebook’s lead, and if we’ll have to start thinking about increasing tax somewhere, or cutting spending somewhere else.