Tuesday 26 August 2014

Ireland supports Commission review of patent boxes

Is the patent box an unfair
way of saving on tax payments?
An article by Ciarán Hancock, which appears in The Irish Times, reverts to the vexed question of Ireland and the Patent Box. Readers of this weblog will recall that, in July, this blogger listed Ireland as a country that already had a patent box tax break, only to be told by a reader that the Emerald Isle had scrapped its patent box regime back in 2010.  Well, the topic appears to be back on the table again, this time within a wide European Union context, in the hope that some sort of consistency of approach can be achieved.  The article, in relevant part, reads as follows:
Review of patent tax regimes in EU has Irish support

Ireland supports the EU review of all patent box regimes – under which certain member states offer tax breaks for intellectual property – and has decided to take a “wait-and-see approach” on the issue until guidance is provided by the European Commission. This has emerged from briefing documents provided recently by the Department of Finance to its newly-appointed Minister of State Simon Harris.

A patent box is a special tax regime offering a rate that is lower than a country’s standard corporation tax rate. Questions have been raised as to whether it breaches state aid rules, with the UK’s scheme being closely scrutinised by the commission.

The Ecofin council of EU finance ministers recently requested that the commission carry out an assessment of all patent boxes by the end of 2014. It is examining schemes in the UK, Belgium, Cyprus, Spain, France, Hungary, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands and Portugal.

The briefing note to Mr Harris states that 
“Ireland is supportive of the . . . decision to look at patent boxes. There has been a lack of clarity around the issue of patent boxes for some time, and therefore we believe there should be a thorough analysis of these measures. In particular, given the persistent calls on Ireland to introduce a patent box, it would be helpful to get guidance from the commission. Ireland can adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ approach on this issue.”
Harmful competition

The briefing note adds some EU countries consider the patent box to be a “form of harmful tax competition, with Germany’s finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble making comments to the effect that they are contrary to the European spirit”. ...
Our thanks go to Chris Torrero, for spotting this link.

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