Varadkar denies senior Biden official pressured Ireland to sign tax deal
Tánaist Leo Varadkar denied that a senior official in the Biden administration pressured Ireland to sign a global agreement on setting a global minimum corporate tax rate when he visited in Washington DC.
Mr Varadkar used his visit to explain how Ireland needs to be assured that a global minimum corporate tax rate will not change and will be implemented by all countries that join it.
He said he had insisted in meetings with business representatives that Ireland remains a good place to invest despite uncertainty over the 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate.
There is international pressure on Ireland to sign a deal with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that would see the introduction of a minimum world rate of at least 15%.
The government is likely to agree to an increase in the corporate tax rate in Ireland, but only if the OECD limits the tax to 15 per cent and not to “at least 15 per cent”.
Mr. Varadkar, Minister of Enterprise and Trade, met with his American counterparts, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Ambassador Katherine Tai, United States Trade Representative on Monday.
United States Statement
A statement released by Ms. Tai’s office after the meeting explained how she “underscored the Biden-Harris administration’s support for a strong global minimum tax and explained how this policy could enable more equitable and inclusive economic growth.” .
Mr Varadkar denied it amounted to pressure from the Biden administration for Ireland to sign the deal.
He said: “We had a meeting for over an hour. It took maybe 10 minutes from the meeting, it was an issue she raised and wanted to talk about ”.
He said she explained the US position and how the deal was a priority for President Joe Biden “but also gave me the opportunity to explain the Irish position and why we believe the maintaining fiscal sovereignty and a low, reliable rate are a big part of our industry. Politics”.
He said he explained that this was not the only reason for the success of the Irish economy, but it was nonetheless “an important element”.
When asked if Ms. Tai had indicated that the United States would support Ireland’s desire for certainty on the minimum rate in the future, he replied: “No specific commitments have been made. “.
He said he set out Ireland’s concerns and how “if a minimum rate is agreed, it should stay at that rate and should not increase over the years”.
Mr Varadkar also said: “A particular problem for us would be that if it is agreed internationally, everyone will implement it.
“We wouldn’t want to end up with a deal that some countries implement and others don’t and I think that will be a problem in the future.”
He added: “A lot of people think that once there is an agreement at the OECD level, it is done.
” Of course not. It will need to be ratified nationally, especially here in the United States. It will have to go through the Senate, and that is by no means guaranteed.
Pressed to know if he would expect the United States to be an ally on these points, he replied: “I think it is fair to say that the United States understands our position and we understand theirs.” .
He said Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe “who is leading these negotiations” will be in the US capital in two weeks and “will discuss it further” with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Mr Varadkar said his trip to Washington DC, which is now over, was “very helpful” in resuming in-person contacts that had not been possible due to the pandemic.
He said he hoped the lifting of the US travel ban in November “will see more Irish people go to America and more Americans come back to Ireland.”
He said it would be “a chance to reconnect at the business level, at the political level and also, I think, at the family level, which will also be very important for people.”