The Word on the Week

Ireland in the Sun

The school exams are over and the universities are coming the end of the semester.
The recent heatwave has whetted appetites for more of the same leading to packed flights travelling south.
However, it is not just the sunshine that we have in common with Bermuda, the Caymans and the Virgin Islands. We are in there with well-known tax-havens of the world. In fact, some have said this week that ‘little old Ireland’ leads the pack!
Of course we have tried to earn some ‘brownie points’ by not cashing Apples cheque for something in the region of $13 billion which now lies in an escrow account costing $800,000 a year to look after it! How it will be eventually carved up is not clear. One thing is certain and that is Apple will contest the outcome and a decision will be hard to come by.
Our official corporate tax rate of 12.5% suits the multinational companies because it is lower than other countries and has been stable. The actual rate charged, when various exemptions and discounts are applied, is often much lower. For instance, in 2015 the effective rate was 9.8% with some of the larger corporations paying less than 5%.
Our method of accounting the national finances cannot cope with the situation where the top 100 companies pay 70% of the tax bill and the remaining 44,000 companies the remainder! Fluctuations in income such as we had in 2015 produced an increase of nearly 26%, a figure that was derided as “Leprechaun economics” by Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman. Of course there could be losses of a similar size destabilizing the country!
What are we to make of all this shuffling around of the “Gulliver” size profits created from highly successful global trading? Well for a start if they can be kept intact by paying minuscule amounts of tax they pour wealth into the pockets of the Companies decision makers and shareholders. Some might trickle down, usually in the form of incentive bonuses to the employees.
The countries where the profits on sales are made get no tax to assist them in providing schools, hospitals, etc. Whilst the citizens of these countries may be able to talk to each other by mobile phone progress in developing the surrounding infrastructure is not helped by the tax portion of the value of the phone being hived off to a tax-haven – probably Ireland where we settle for a much reduced amount!
So didn’t Jesus say the poor would always be around – so much for equality!
What Jesus said would have been understood by those who knew the full quotation – “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be…For the poor you will always have with you in the land. Therefore, I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’” (Deuteronomy chapter 15 verses 7-11)
In the light of these words we stand condemned nationally and individually. We need to check out what/who we are trusting in (1 Timothy chapter 6 verses 17/19).