Initial US reaction to the abolition of the so-called 'Double Irish' tax scheme and the introduction of new investment incentives has been positive.

The US National Foreign Trade Council - which represents American companies with operations abroad - said it did not believe multinationals would leave Ireland because of the taxation changes.

The council said its members had been expecting the Government to make changes because of the ongoing pressure on Ireland due to international concerns from the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project and the EU's state aid investigation.

The Double Irish will no longer be available to companies establishing operations in Ireland from January 2015, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan announced in the Budget.

He said the mechanism would also be phased out for companies already using it by the end of 2020.

Foreign direct investment played a key role in Ireland’s economy, he said, with the 12.5% corporation tax rate sitting at the heart of this.

That rate "never has been and never will be up for discussion", Mr Noonan said, but the phasing out of the Double Irish scheme was an important step in maintaining the country’s reputation.

Making the change now, he said, would help give certainty to Ireland’s tax regime for the years ahead but he added that it alone would not bring international tax planning by multinationals to an end.

This would require coordinated action by all the countries involved, Mr Noonan said.

In addition to the Double Irish change, the minister announced a road map “to secure Ireland’s place as the destination for the best and most successful companies in the world”.

This would include the introduction of a 'Knowledge Development Box', which Mr Noonan said would be similar to the patent and innovation boxes available in other countries.

Improvements would also be made to existing intangible asset tax provisions to make it more attractive for companies to develop intellectual property in Ireland.

The Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP) would be changed with the upper salary level (€500,000) being removed.

The scheme acts as an incentive to attract top international executives to work here. Where certain conditions are met, an employee can make a claim to have 30% of his or her income above €75,000 disregarded for income tax purposes.

The three-year corporation tax relief offered to start-ups would also be extended, Mr Noonan said.

The US National Foreign Trade Council said it was "pleased" that Mr Noonan had made it clear the 12.5% corporate tax rate would be retained.

The group also said it was "encouraged" that the base would be removed from the R&D tax credit.

The council's vice president for tax policy, Cathy Schultz, said they were "very supportive" of the development of a Knowledge Development Box, adding that she felt this would attract additional investment into Ireland.

She also said that she did not believe the abolition of the Double Irish would cause US companies to leave Ireland.  Ms Schultz said setting 2020 as the deadline for existing companies would allow plenty of time for them to make changes as necessary.

The council said US companies were doing business in Ireland "for many reasons and the low corporate tax rate is just one of the them" and "that is not changing".

Ms Schultz said that the existing R&D structure in Ireland was attractive and that other new incentives, like the Knowledge Box, would retain companies.

She said she expected the scheme to be as "incentivising" as the patent box had been in the UK.

The council said it believed the Irish Government had been "very open in encouraging businesses to invest in Ireland" and that this Budget was "realistic" in terms of dealing with the issues Ireland was facing, without penalising business.

A spokesperson for Grant Thornton's US-Irish business division said the changes were "broadly positive" and the announcement removed the uncertainty that investors had been living with for months.

Peter Vale said the six-year deadline gave companies plenty of time to restructure their taxation arrangements if required.

He said the improvements to the intellectual property regime, the R&D tax credits and the Knowledge Box were all very attractive to business.

He also said that he didn't feel the changes would cause businesses to leave Ireland.

The corporate tax changes would retain the confidence of multinational investors, according to the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland.

Chamber president Louise Phelan said the new certainty would "allow American companies currently considering setting up operations in Ireland, and those already here, to plan accordingly".

Ms Phelan added: "The measures make Ireland an even more attractive location for foreign direct investment (FDI) in future.

"The chamber welcomes the vision within this road map which sends out a very positive and powerful signal that, as the minister has previously stated, in the global competition for FDI jobs Ireland will play fair but will play to win."

Ms Phelan said the planned introduction of the Knowledge Development Box would be a major asset to Ireland in securing valuable investments.

She also welcomed  the decision to reduce the top rate of income tax.

“The personal taxation burden had reached an unsustainable level and the changes will support greater levels of job creation in both multinational and indigenous companies.

"The improvements to SARP will also help Ireland attract key leadership talent into the country," Ms Phelan said.

Jim Ryan, tax partner at Ernst & Young, said the minister had radically overhauled SARP to increase foreign direct investment by removing a number of conditions which, to date, had made the relief largely unworkable.

 “This will send a clear message to foreign companies and their senior executive population about the attractiveness of Ireland as a base from which to do business.

“The minister has amended the requirement to have worked for the company prior to being seconded into Ireland from 12 months to six months and removed the upper income ceiling.”