Ireland has the most efficient business tax system in Europe and the fourth most efficient in the world, according to a new study by PwC and the World Bank.

The Paying Taxes report looks at the tax rate facing businesses around the world, as well as the workload involved in complying.

It found that firms in Ireland pay an average of 26% of their profits in taxes - broadly split between corporation tax and labour taxes. That compares to a global rate of 40.3% and a rate of more than 60% in France.

"What the World Bank and PwC have shown is that there's a very strong correlation between economic development and both efficiency in paying tax and the amount of tax that's paid," said Joe Tynan, head of tax at PwC Ireland. 

"It has proven very good for us to have that relatively low rate of tax. In recent years that's come true both in terms of the jobs numbers... and in terms of the corporate tax numbers."


The report also shows that the effective tax rate in Ireland - the percentage companies are actually paying - is quite close to the headline rate of 12.5%. In many other countries there is a significant gap between those two, with various schemes and reliefs helping to bring the effective rate well below the headline.

However the method used by PwC and the World Bank to measure tax rates internationally does not show multinationals' movements of large amounts of revenue, which effectively help them to avoid paying tax on billions per year.

Despite that tax management Ireland's corporation tax take is booming - so much so that it is seen as a potential risk to the health of the economy. The Paying Taxes report helps to capture that, showing just how big of a contribution the category makes to the Exchequer, compared to other countries.

"We're quite out of line with many other countries - in some ways in a positive way," Mr Tynan said. "Corporation tax is 9% of the tax revenues in most countries - in Ireland in 2018 it was 19%.

"It's great for the rest of us, as taxpayers, it means we've got to pay less tax. Not so great when you're talking about concentration risk and you're concerned that a very large amount of our tax comes from just one category."

Mr Tynan also points out that, when you delve deeper into the Corporation Tax figures, you also find that just a handful of firms are responsible for the bulk of that money - increasing the concentration risk even further.

Of course the prospect of relatively low tax rates is music to the ears of most businesses here - multinational or not - but Mr Tynan argues that there is a positive in the report for employees too.

The study found that Ireland has a relatively small 'tax wedge' - that is the amount a firm needs to pay in tax in order to employ someone at the average industrial wage. That makes it easier for firms here to hire, which should mean more decent employment options for the population.

"Ireland is very close to the lowest end of that spectrum and lower than, for example, the US," he said. "Now we do have a very progressive tax rate, so as the salary rate increases the amount of tax goes up quite quickly."