Irish ambassador: Our ties to West Coast are solid and growing

Ireland’s links to Washington and the West Coast are already strong and will grow stronger with the synergy between our economies.

An editorial [“Ireland comes knocking at Seattle’s door,” Nov. 13, Opinion] stated that Ireland “continues to be a tax haven.”

As Ireland’s ambassador to the U.S., I wish to make clear that Ireland is not a “tax haven” and does not meet any of the international criteria for being considered such. Our country is actually in full compliance with all applicable internationals standards and has a longstanding Tax Treaty/Double Taxation Agreement in place with the United States.

The recent publication of the “Paradise Papers” has raised legitimate questions about international taxation. Aggressive tax planning is a global issue that requires a global solution. This can be delivered through the framework of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), of which the U.S. and Ireland are leading members. For its part, Ireland is committed to the implementation of all OECD measures so as to ensure that our tax code meets the highest international standards. In recognition of our active role, in August the OECD awarded Ireland the highest international rating on tax transparency.

The Times’ editorial also referred to last year’s decision by the European Commission on Apple. Both Ireland and Apple are appealing this ruling. Ireland did not give favorable tax treatment to Apple — the full amount of tax due under Irish law was paid in this case and no state aid was provided.

When Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Leo Varadkar, visited Seattle recently, he highlighted Ireland’s strong commitment to EU membership and our status as a gateway into Europe for U.S. firms. The links between Ireland and the U.S. are strong and mutually beneficial, contributing to economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic.

We are delighted by the fact that more than 230 companies headquartered on the U.S. West Coast currently employ more than 47,000 people in Ireland. Ireland provides those West Coast companies with an ideal base from which they can operate successfully in Europe and beyond. What is less well known is that more than 130 Irish companies operate on the West Coast, where they employ some 8,000 U.S. residents. In all, in excess of 400 Irish…

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