Billions of euro are lost every year across the European Union - and further afield - through the abuse of taxation regimes or straight forward tax evasion. One of the biggest ever international studies into the true extent to which this is taking place is being undertaken at an EU level. The Irish leg of the study is being conducted at the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick.

Professor Sheila Killian, one of the lead researchers on the project, explained that the overall objective of the study is to address the issue of tax and inequality. "Tax avoidance and evasion creates inequality both within Europe and outside. If countries can't gather enough revenue, they're not able to provide services. There is also an inequality between businesses - those who have access to aggressive tax planning on the one hand and those that don't. And then there's the impact on the global south," she explained.


The University of Limerick leg of the study will look specifically at tax professionals and how they perceive their role in serving the public interest. "We're not only looking at wrong doing. We're looking at how tax professionals think they're serving the public interest and what their values are. If you're an accountant in the IFSC, is your idea of the tax work you do the same as those of an accountant in Oslo or a lawyer in Sicily? How aggressive do you get in your tax planning, for example," Professor Killian explained.

She said the overall objective of the study is to bring all the different strands together to have the first cohesive multifaceted study in the area. "That will enable all governing bodies and the governing bodies of professions to act in concert to even out the playing pitch and make tax work fairer," she concluded.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Rising volumes of imports and exports saw Dublin port posting a 4.2% increase in freight volumes in the first three months of this year. Total throughput for the quarter was 8.7 million gross tonnes; exports performed better than imports, despite the weakness of sterling. One area where the weak pound might be having a negative impact, however, is on visitor numbers. The port company reported a greater than 9% fall in passenger volumes in the quarter but this was partly accounted for by Easter falling in the first quarter last year.


*** UK fashion retailer Jaeger has gone into administration putting 700 jobs at risk across Britain. The brand has at least four outlets here through concessions and host stores. The directors of the fashion retailer appointed administrators after failing to find a buyer for the business. Competition on the high street and falling sales are being blamed. Figures yesterday pointed to some difficulties ahead for British retailers in the face of a weaker pound. The first quarter of the year saw the biggest drop in retail sales, excluding food, in nearly six years. Food prices are also on the increase - and UK inflation figures for March are due out this morning.

*** One in four consumers is considering purchasing a property, according to the latest homebuyer survey from KBC Bank Ireland. The study calculates that about 70,000 househunters are now ready and able to finance a house purchase. It further finds that as many as 300,000 hopeful home buyers could emerge over the next two years. However, as demand continues to outstrip supply, it looks like house prices will continue on their upwards trajectory.

*** Toshiba - the world's second biggest chip manufacturer - is expected to hold a press conference today to coincide with its earnings report. There are reports that Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn has signalled that it could mount a $27 billion bid for Toshiba's chip business. The struggling Japanese manufacturer has put its chip unit on the market to plug a hole in its finances.