O'LEARY LOBBIED DONOHOE FOR 'URGENT' RYANAIR CREW TAX CUTS - Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary lobbied Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe to "urgently" introduce tax changes for airline crew members last year. 

The proposed amendments, if introduced, would change how Irish airline crew based abroad are taxed, and could cost the exchequer millions of euro. Currently airline crew based abroad but employed by Irish-registered airlines pay tax on that income in Ireland. Ryanair sought changes to the tax rules, so that crew located in bases outside Ireland would pay tax in the country of residence, says the Irish Times. In January 2018 Mr O'Leary wrote to Mr Donohoe stating there was a "pressing and urgent need" to amend the tax laws. Ryanair chief financial officer Neil Sorahan provided a detailed submission as part of the lobbying effort. Mr Sorahan said the relevant legislation should be removed or amended "as a matter of extreme urgency". The current rules put Irish airlines operating overseas flights at a "significant commercial disadvantage" to non-Irish airlines, Mr Sorahan wrote in his letter. When Ryanair failed to secure commitments that the rules would be amended, it launched a High Court case against the Department of Finance last November. It alleges that section 127B of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 - which provides that people working on planes operated by an Irish company are taxed here, regardless of whether they are tax resident in the State - runs counter to European law.

IDA PAYS €7.5m FOR SITE NEAR INTEL'S LEIXLIP HQ - The IDA last November paid out €7.5m for an 18-acre site at Collinstown, Leixlip, Co Kildare. 

The payout is more than double the next highest amount that the IDA spent on any individual land purchase in 2018. Chip giant, Intel has its sprawling Irish HQ at Collinstown. However, an IDA spokesman wouldn't be drawn on the reasons behind the purchase as the agency doesn't comment on current or potential client activity, says the Irish Independent. The purchase was made on November 14 last year and coincided with Intel drawing up plans for a new $4 billion (€3.53 billion) manufacturing fabrication (FAB) facility at the Leixlip site. That application for the potential $4 billion investment is before Kildare County Council. In a written Dáil response to Maurice Quinlivan, Business Minister Heather Humphreys confirmed that the IDA last February paid €3.44m for 69 acres at Gorteens and Kilmurray, Slieverue, Co Kilkenny. The IDA also paid €1.1m for lands at Loughbeg, Ringaskiddy, Cork last December. In total, the IDA spent €16.7m on land and building purchases over 2017 and 2018.

IRELAND 'WORST HIT' IF US WIDENS TRADE WAR FRONT - Ireland will be the worst hit economy in the eurozone if the US-China trade spat broadens to envelop Europe, according to a leading economics group. 

The assessment by Capital Economics in London finds that Ireland will be in the front line should the flare-up in the US-China tit-for-tat tariff strife encourage President Donald Trump to use the same tactics later this month in a simmering dispute with the EU. Any such escalation would hit the Irish economy even harder than Germany's, according to the research says the Irish Examiner.  It comes as China ignored a warning by tweet from Mr Trump and said it will impose tit-for-tat higher tariffs from June on 2,493 goods it imports from the US. The US last week imposed higher tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods it imports from China. Jack Allen, senior Europe economist at Capital Economics, said the latest tariffs imposed last week by the White House are part of the pressure the US is bringing on China to strike a new trade deal between the two countries.

RICHER SOUNDS FOUNDER HANDS OVER CONTROL OF HI-FI AND TV FIRM TO STAFF -  The founder of Richer Sounds is handing control of the hi-fi and TV retail chain to staff, in a move that will also give employees large cash bonuses. 

Julian Richer will announce to staff on Tuesday that he has transferred 60% of his shares into a John Lewis-style trust. Richer, who recently turned 60, said the "time was right" to pass the baton to the chain's 531 employees, says the Guardian. "My father dropped down dead at 60 so I am very keen for this to happen in my lifetime," explained Richer. "I felt the time was right, rather than leaving it until I'm not around, to ensure the transition goes smoothly and I can be part of it. I still really, really care but it is time for the next generation." The company will pay Richer an initial £9.2m for the stake but the businessman is giving £3.5m of that back to staff, who will receive £1,000 for every year they have worked for the retailer. The average payout will be £8,000 but there are 39 employees with more than 20 years' service who stand to receive substantial windfalls. The company's nine directors, who Richer said earn six-figure salaries, are not included in the bonus pool: "This is to thank loyal, hardworking colleagues." With annual sales of nearly £200m, Richer Sounds is one of the biggest UK companies to embrace employee ownership in recent years.