Sachs wants ¤13bn of dis­puted Ap­ple taxes to be spent on world’s poor

The Irish Times - - Business Today - SI­MON CARSWELL Pub­lic Af­fairs Ed­i­tor

The Gov­ern­ment should use the ¤13 bil­lion in dis­puted taxes from tech­nol­ogy gi­ant Ap­ple to meet its com­mit­ment to over­seas aid for the world’s poor, lead­ing US econ­o­mist Jef­frey Sachs has said.

The spe­cial ad­viser to the United Na­tions sec­re­tary gen­eral urged the Gov­ern­ment to drop its ap­peal against the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion rul­ing that Ap­ple re­ceived un­fair tax in­cen­tives from the State.

De­vel­op­ment aid

Part of the money could be used to ful­fil the Repub­lic’s long-held pledge to com­mit 0.7 per cent of gross na­tional in­come to over­seas de­vel­op­ment aid and “an­other part could be used for help­ing Ire­land’s poor”, he said.

“Take the money. This is a tax rev­enue from one of the most suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies in his­tory. They have plenty of prof­its. Take it, use it,” he told The Ir­ish Times af­ter speak­ing at the In­sti­tute for In­ter­na­tional and Eu­ro­pean Af­fairs, the think tank.

Mr Sachs said he sup­ported a dig­i­tal tax on global tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies, crit­i­cis­ing “cor­po­rate in­flu­ence” on tax pol­icy and “the logic of tax com­pe­ti­tion” as “per­va­sive”.

“Ire­land was part of that story,” he said. “Ire­land was used as a tran­sit hub for what I be­lieve was tan­ta­mount to large-scale tax eva­sion, le­gal per­haps, but re­ally stretch­ing the sys­tem very, very badly.”

He ac­knowl­edged the Gov­ern­ment had moved to close down “some of the most abu­sive prac­tices” but said there was “still a long way to go” to cre­ate a fair in­ter­na­tional sys­tem that col­lects more rather than less. “Th­ese com­pa­nies are very rich, very prof­itable; they should be pay­ing more in tax and be forced to be more trans­par­ent about the na­ture of their global op­er­a­tions and how this profit is taxed and how the taxes are shared among the coun­tries where th­ese com­pa­nies op­er­ate,” said the Columbia Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor.

Trump tar­iffs

Mr Sachs con­demned US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s tar­iffs and trade war with China as “dan­ger­ous and reck­less”, mark­ing the worst in­stances of “bla­tant uni­lat­er­al­ist pro­tec­tion­ism” since the US tar­iffs of early 1930s that ex­ac­er­bated the Great De­pres­sion.

He urged Eu­rope to join with China and Rus­sia to de­mand an end to Mr Trump’s uni­lat­er­al­ism in trade.

“Trump is com­pletely ir­re­spon­si­ble in what he is do­ing and the rest of the world should tell him: this is to­tally unac­cept­able and if you have com­plaints go to WTO [World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion],” he said.

Lead­ing US econ­o­mist Jef­frey Sachs: urged Gov­ern­ment to drop its ap­peal

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