The Taoiseach said Ireland would continue to engage in discussions on global tax reform in a “constructive” manner.
Speaking in New York after a meeting with New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, Micheál Martin told reporters Ireland will continue to discuss the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development agreement (OECD) on reforming global tax rules.
The country is one of the few countries not to accept the major OECD agreement, which is supported by more than 130 countries around the world, as well as the EU.
Mr Martin said 12.5% remained the corporate tax rate in Ireland, but added: “Discussions are ongoing within the OECD and we have made it clear from the start that we are committing to the OECD process in a constructive manner. And we want certainty and we want continuity.
I enjoyed my visit with the Governor of New York @GovKathyHochul today.
We shared our experiences in the fight against the pandemic and the importance of connectivity between our two countries.
We also discussed his proud Kerry roots and his family’s love for the GAA. pic.twitter.com/aYKRDULTAw
– Michael Martin (@MichealMartinTD) September 20, 2021
The Taoiseach declined to pledge whether Ireland’s popular corporate tax rate will remain at 12.5% in the future.
“We are engaged in a process. For the moment, we have not accepted the conclusions that have been drawn from this process because they do not give us any certainty or continuity as to the future, ”he said.
Mr. Martin is in New York for a week of engagements at the United Nations General Assembly.
Speaking at a press conference alongside Ms Hochul, whose ancestors hail from County Kerry, Mr Martin said the coming weeks will be “important” as talks continue.
He said he “would not make any commitments one way or another to individual companies” regarding Ireland’s future tax arrangements.
Earlier in Dublin, the finance minister told the European Commission that Ireland could still stay out of the global tax deal.
In a meeting with EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni on Monday, Minister Paschal Donohoe said it was “not appropriate” at present for Ireland to sign the OECD agreement , which is supported by 130 countries.
He said Ireland was seeking new assurances on the predictability and certainty of the deal, ahead of the mid-October deadline to finalize the deal.
Mr Donohoe said Ireland, which relies heavily on its low 12.5% corporate tax rate, would make the decision based on the best interests of its economy, not external pressure.
He said: “I remain determined to see if the process can lead to an outcome that Ireland would be prepared to consider joining.
“But also, I communicated to my colleague that where we are at the moment, of not being in the agreement, is a position which could continue.
“It’s a very, very important process. This is a very, very important negotiation.
“It could continue to be the case.
“But also, we are working very hard to see if a deal is possible that would allow Ireland to join.”
He said proposals that the corporate tax rate could be set “at least” at 15% were “deeply problematic” for Ireland.
He added that there would be “consequences” for Ireland whether it joins the deal or chooses to stay out of it.
Ireland is one of nine countries that have yet to join the OECD framework for reforming the global corporate tax system.
Mr Gentiloni said it was “not the time” to talk about the potential consequences for Ireland of rejecting the deal.
He added: “Now is the time to cooperate, to continue our dialogue.
“And give the Irish government the time, the opportunity, in this discussion with the OECD, to make the right decision in the interest of Irish citizens.
“Of course, the position of the European Commission is very clear.
“We believe this global deal would contribute to the stability and predictability of global tax systems.
“At the same time, having been in office also at the national level, I know full well that the government has to make decisions, taking into account different aspects of this.”
Some fear that Ireland’s international reputation will be tarnished by staying outside the OECD framework.
When asked if Ireland would be entrusted to high-level international positions, like hers as chairman of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, if she remains outside a deal backed by 130 other countries Mr. Donohoe insisted that any decision would be made solely on the economic interests of the country.
He said: “The main thing here is not so much our role in different organizations.
“The key is the ability of our economy to grow, keep jobs, get new ones in the future, and stay competitive.
“This is the metric by which any decision here must be evaluated and it is the only lens I will use in the decision I make.”
But Mr Gentiloni said he remained convinced that a deal could be found.