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Facebook Finds Grass Greener In Ireland 287

Posted by kdawson
from the o'tax-break dept.
theodp writes "Facebook announced it has chosen tax-haven Dublin for its international HQ, but not all are buying COO Sheryl Sandberg's line about local world-class talent being the motivation behind the move. The Irish Times recently reported that Irish subsidiaries owned by US multinationals are opting to convert to unlimited liability status, concealing the financial performance of their Irish operations from public view. They include Microsoft's incredibly profitable Irish subsidiaries Round Island One and Flat Island Company, Google Ireland Holdings, and a subsidiary of Apple Computer. The conversions have occurred as US tax authorities have increased their scrutiny of international mechanisms used by American multinationals to reduce their taxes at home."
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Facebook Finds Grass Greener In Ireland

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  • the US tax code (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thrillseeker (518224) on Friday October 03, 2008 @10:47AM (#25246125)
    is a politician's wet dream of byzantine unfairness and vote buying
  • by Viol8 (599362) on Friday October 03, 2008 @10:51AM (#25246199)

    Because IMO Facebook is just another fad and will go the same way as Friends Reunited when something new and shinier comes along or the novelty wears off. Very few trendy websites stay trendy for more than a few years - its only the interesting ones that survive and theres a limit to how much aquaintances boring lives and silly little games can keep you interested over a long period of time.

  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Friday October 03, 2008 @10:55AM (#25246255) Homepage

    Ha! As if the US spends its tax money wisely! 900 billion here, 900 billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money.

    I asked my Representative to vote against the failout.

  • by Chaos Incarnate (772793) on Friday October 03, 2008 @10:56AM (#25246271) Homepage
    The solution to the US going further in the hole every day isn't more taxes, it's to stop pissing away money like $700 billion is pocket change.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 03, 2008 @10:57AM (#25246287)

    They will need to end all these loopholes to pay down the insane deficit.

    We're going to be in a full blown recession for at least a year, it's going to cost a fortune, yet the Fortune 500 are exporting all the jobs and now all the taxes.

    Trickle down is now proven to not work, so get the taxes and redistribute what they refuse to do responsibly on their own.

  • by hobbit (5915) on Friday October 03, 2008 @10:57AM (#25246291)

    Hey, you guys all but invented "letting the market decide", so if you're not the most attractive country in which to pay tax, surely you'll be redressing that through competition, not regulation?!

  • duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by einer (459199) on Friday October 03, 2008 @10:58AM (#25246307) Journal

    Corporations seek environments where they can generate the most profit. Get over it. America is quickly becoming a business unfriendly environment. Taxation, absurd regulations (for example, you CAN'T test 100% of your cattle for BSE no matter how much your customers want it, or how competative it will make you), insane legal exposure...

    Welcome to the "service economy."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 03, 2008 @10:59AM (#25246313)

    Our companies would stay in the United States if it weren't for the oppressive tax laws. It's getting so bad that we're bound to have another Boston Tea Party, remember that one? Think about who's raising taxes next time you vote, we can't afford to continue driving business out of the U.S.

  • by cavtroop (859432) on Friday October 03, 2008 @10:59AM (#25246325)

    Rated funny? This is one of the most serious posts I have ever read on /.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:06AM (#25246403) Journal

    You don't have to be a financial expert to know that just ain't right.

    A corporation has a duty to its shareholders to increase their equity. If they can save money by relocating, it's entirely appropriate for them to do so.

    You might want to ask why the USA has such high corporate tax rates.

    -jcr

  • Re:the US tax code (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GlobalColding (1239712) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:07AM (#25246407) Journal
    The whole tax and governing apparatus is rotten to the core. Money gets wasted without adequate oversight or explanation where it goes. We, the people, are getting shafted and gamed by the people who are supposedly on our payroll. This evolutionary path leads to people learning how to game the people in charge. You can no longer say that "the house always wins"...
  • by larry bagina (561269) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:07AM (#25246411) Journal

    People who are lucky should hold out a helping hand to people who are less lucky.

    I think you mean: "The government should steal from people who are lucky and redistribute to people who are less lucky."

  • by Moridineas (213502) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:10AM (#25246463) Journal

    Why should corporations want to stay in an environment becoming increasingly hostile? Public perception of many corporations (and certainly "the corporation") is justifiably dismal. The next president will no doubt raise business taxes. Doesn't it make sense to move to somewhere like Ireland? People make this same kind of decision all the time when deciding where to live.

    One of the interesting things in these discussions is that so many people betray how utterly insular they are. The economy is global and it's easier than ever to move around the world and communicate around the world. The difference between Ireland and the US (or the US and China, India, Slovakia, Russia, etc ad infinitum) ain't what it was 50 years ago. American exceptionalism is commonly laughed at as something for fools and demagogues, yet everyone who rants about how corporations should be taxed higher and how corporations shouldn't be allowed to go overseas are betraying their own beliefs.

  • No Patriotic duty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scorp1us (235526) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:15AM (#25246537) Journal

    In Gregory v. Helvering Supreme Court Justice Learned Hand was quoted as saying:

    "Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes. Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands."
    Gregory v. Helvering, 293 U.S. 465 (1935).

    The fact is tax avoidance is a key part of keeping taxation in check. If it gets oppressive, you move. In this way, governments compete for taxpayers.

  • by larry bagina (561269) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:17AM (#25246571) Journal
    Don't you know, it's important for the economy to pass it as quickly as possible. Not because the economy would stop, but because a 2 day delay meant 400+ pages of unrelated pork and complications to the tax code.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:19AM (#25246595)

    I own a small US business (with payroll responsibilities). If you haven't set up and run a business in the US, you probably have little idea how onerous the taxes, laws and restrictions here are.

    So before heaping blame on the corporations, please spend a little time examining just why there is an incentive for them to leave. Examine especially the laws regarding taxation on foreign income - and compare that with how other countries treat their corporations' foreign income.

    And hard as it might be to believe, as an employee you see the pleasant side of the IRS.

  • by colganc (581174) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:19AM (#25246601)
    It is their money. They earned it. Don't take it from them after they earned it. If you don't like how they earned it, change the rules for the next set of companies coming up. More likely your rules will prevent any new ones though.
  • by Notquitecajun (1073646) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:21AM (#25246621)
    All I'm seeing is the "unpatriotic" banner being waved by the left in America, when they AREN'T asking, "Why are companies leaving America, and why do they have hard-to-touch bank accounts offshore?" Somewhere there's a BAD disconnect - that we could minimize what many banks are going through by doing something that would ENCOURAGE people keeping their money there rather than seeing large companies as something to tax and take from because they somehow "owe" it.

    The left NEVER asks what is wrong with their system - they just ask what is wrong with everyone else. We need to ask, "what would it take for you to keep your money in America," rather than proclaiming from the rooftops that they're leaving and should be punished for it.
  • by EraserMouseMan (847479) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:21AM (#25246623)
    The middle-class need tax relief. So let's tax the big companies they all work for much more heavily.

    This will surely help the middle-class employees of these large greedy companies. In order to remain competitive in this global economy these large companies must move out of the USA because the taxes are so burdensome here.

    Thanks Obama! That really helped a lot!
  • by JohnHegarty (453016) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:22AM (#25246631) Homepage

    except the Irish government guaranteed the Irish banks for $550 billion on Monday

  • by Kohath (38547) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:23AM (#25246651)

    What do you expect them to do? The taxes they pay outweigh the benefits that they receive. Taxes are simply a bad deal for them.

    Did you notice when the gas price went up? The response from about 49% of the politicians was "we should punish the oil companies by raising their taxes". How does raising taxes on oil companies reduce the price of gas? Obviously, it does the opposite: raises the cost of producing gas, and raising the price the producers need to charge to make a profit. Did the media point this out? No.

    Hatred and envy and greed are the motivating factor for tax policy (and a lot of other policies) for much or the electorate and their chosen representatives.

    Why wouldn't a company want to move their operations out of the US? It's cheaper and it's further away from the people who hate them and want to punish them (and have the power to do it).

    If half of the people at my office hated me, and if I could get a better job somewhere else, I'd leave. Companies decide similarly.

  • FairTax.org (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jemminger (914046) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:25AM (#25246681)
    I'm sounding like a broken record. Once again, passing of the Fair Tax ( http://www.fairtax.org/ [fairtax.org] ) would fix this. Our current tax code punishes us as individuals and businesses for making money. The FairTax would turn the U.S. into the world's biggest tax haven, and businesses would be seeking to make the U.S. their home rather than fleeing it.
  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:36AM (#25246815) Homepage

    Plus, Facebook has (at least) one fundamental flaw: it assumes you WANT everyone who you're "friends" with to indiscriminately know about everyone ELSE you're "friends" with. It ignores the fact that you don't necessarily WANT your kid brother (or coworkers, or parents) reading about your wild weekend (or at least not the full details you'd share with your best and closest friends).

    Also introduced to us by Seinfeld as the "worlds colliding" theory of social interaction.

  • by squarooticus (5092) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:38AM (#25246851) Homepage

    When you want a government that regulates and taxes everything into submission, is it any surprise that business moves to places with fewer regulations and taxes? Good on Facebook: I hope more business moves away from the US, as that appears to be the only remaining hope for US citizens to demand smaller government.

  • by edmicman (830206) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:49AM (#25246989) Homepage Journal
    They already have something like this. It's called the Internet. I can have my group of Facebook friends, my self-hosted blog where people know it's me, my self-hosted blog at a different registered domain under a pseudonym where I can post my propaganda, my Flickr stream, my Google Groups persona, my Slashdot persona, and my personas at any number of other forums/communities.
  • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:53AM (#25247049) Homepage

    Facebook is actually a well-designed/developed site, and a particularly useful one in its original niche. college students, especially incoming freshmen, gravitated to the site because it allowed them to stay in touch with all of their friends from high school who are now off to different universities, and it was also different from other social networks in that it had highly organized and usefully structured profiles which aren't cluttered by pictures, clashing colors, and annoying videos or music the way that Myspace profiles are.

    facebook also organizes users by their schools, thus making the social network more useful as a practical networking tool. it's very useful for organizing student groups/events, or just making new friends (and not just online ones). out of all the social networking sites that have popped up in recent years, facebook is probably the least appropriate to use the word "trendy" on. and it's not likely to die any time soon, because it's actually a very ingeniously designed site.

    MySpace, Xanga, Friendster, etc. were the trend-driven social networking sites. they weren't created around usefulness or original functionality. the fact that MySpace has not only remained, but grown into one of the most popular sites on the web shows that your prediction about "trendy" sites does not hold any water. Myspace is horribly designed, buggy, hideous, and filled with angst-ridden teenagers and illiterate retards, but its become such a cultural fixture that it's permanence is practically guaranteed.

    all of the early social networking boom sites have died out so that the ones that remain will probably be here for a while. so your "* is just another fad" comment is about 4 years too late. saying it to demonstrate your non-conformity (or to show that you're above fads & fashions) is ignoring the reality staring you in the face.

  • by Azghoul (25786) on Friday October 03, 2008 @12:01PM (#25247153) Homepage

    So, Ireland is smarter than us in how they go about attracting corporate dollars... ... and you fault THEM for it?

    Maybe if we were a little more competitive companies wouldn't bother fleeing there. Just a thought.

  • Re:the US tax code (Score:5, Insightful)

    by philspear (1142299) on Friday October 03, 2008 @12:48PM (#25247809)

    The whole tax and governing apparatus is rotten to the core. Money gets wasted without adequate oversight or explanation where it goes. We, the people, are getting shafted and gamed by the people who are supposedly on our payroll.

    In all of history, has it EVER been different?

  • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Friday October 03, 2008 @12:53PM (#25247907)

    Some of you may remember the Presidential debate only 6 days ago. As soon as I saw this story, I recalled McCain's argument for lowering business taxes. He used a very specific example...Ireland.

    You can see the video here [google.com] with the Ireland remark highlighted.

    I took the liberty of transcribing McCain's words. Not to go totally partisan up in here....but you gotta give him props for calling this one:

    The business tax. Right now, United States of America business pays the second highest business taxes in the world, 35%. Ireland pays 11%. Now, if you're a business person, and you can locate any place in the world, then obviously if you go to the country where it's 11% tax versus 35, you'll be able to create jobs, increase your business, make more investment, etc. I want to cut that business tax. I want to cut it so that businesses remain in America and create jobs.

    It's not like he made an impressive prediction. As even the summary points out, businesses moving to Ireland is (very) old hat, and well known.

    There does seem to be a bipartisan blindness to actually solving this problem. In addition to taxes sending businesses out of the US, low wages do as well. A good PhD scientist in China I know makes $7000/year and so do his peers. How do we compete with that? I'm open to suggestions, but all I see from major parties in the US is a whole lot of nothing.

  • by illumin8 (148082) on Friday October 03, 2008 @01:48PM (#25248597) Journal

    The middle-class need tax relief. So let's tax the big companies they all work for much more heavily.

    No, let's not tax them any more. Let's instead give tax breaks to companies that don't outsource American jobs, thereby encouraging them to stay here.

    Thanks Obama! That really helped a lot!

    In case you haven't pulled your head out of your ass long enough to notice, Obama isn't president yet. How does Obama's future economic policy explain why companies are relocating over the past several years? Answer: It doesn't, it's the Bush failed economic policies of deregulation that are encouraging companies to dodge taxes overseas.

  • by daigu (111684) on Friday October 03, 2008 @06:56PM (#25251909) Journal

    Truman? Please. Perhaps a little history is precisely the problem YOU have when making these rather terrible arguments. I'd recommend taking a look at the Monroe Doctrine, the Roosevelt Corollary, and Wilson's presidency as redefining Manifest Destiny as promoting freedom around the world - as an obvious demonstration that your Truman thesis is false.

    Not that beginning means much. If you are talking about debt, all you have to do is look at the historic tables of how debt has grown under different Presidents, and you'll find that all have been terrible - but Reagan and both Bushes especially so.

    I also find it interesting that you want to talk about beginnings and want to pretend Nixon's escalation in Vietnam, Reagan "Star Wars" and proxy wars, and Bush I & II in Iraq didn't add significantly to the debt. I suppose if you just ignore it, then it will go away right? Perhaps taking a look at the facts without filtering through your personal political ideology might be a good first step to improve your flabby argumentation.

    And if you think the Democratic party represents "the left", it is you that needs to put down the Kool-Aid. Try taking a trip to West Bengal, a state with the longest democratically elected Communist government, and you'll come away with an idea of what "the left" looks like - and it isn't much prettier than looking at the neocon rule and the rightist politics of both Republican and Democratic parties in our country.

  • Ireland is not smarter. We are just desperate.

    You must understand that Ireland, as a country, had nothing. The most common phrase I hear from older people about the past is: "This country had nothing". The sad fact is, beneath it all, Ireland still has nothing. We have no natural resources, a low population, poor infrastructure, no significant industrial base. We are an island, and communications with the continent have always been expensive, slow and prone to monopolies. Corruption is and always was a very serious problem. We have a weak judiciary, a rather inept legislature and an effective one-party system. None of these points is a crippling issue, but you must understand that Ireland was never traditionally an attractive place to invest.

    The low corporation tax rate is the only, and I mean the only , thing that this country has to attract foreign investment. No one is very happy with this, least of all ordinary people who have to pay ~45% income tax rates to make up for the attractive 12.5% taxes paid by corporations and yet still have to put up with a substandard public service. Ireland is a leader in the race to the bottom, and it cannot be denied that this policy has paid off. Big fish like Microsoft, Pfizer, Dell, Intel, etc have contributed substantially to Ireland's transition from a second world country in 1990, to a ... well talk to me after the current crisis is over, but I'll say for now a first world one.

    The low corporation tax had lead to some substantial anomalies. Former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald has argued for years that Ireland's official GDP figures are grossly misleading, with a very small amount of foreign companies contributing a sizeable fraction of GDP(If I remember correctly, Pfizer's Viagra operation in Cork alone was said to account for 3% of GDP). But because the tax rate is so low, these profits will largely be sent back to their home countries, and the country will not see the benefit(as much).

    Make no mistake, Ireland has made a Faustian deal with multinational companies. If even one, just one, major american company decides to pack up and head elsewhere, this country will feel the impact for many years. The company might consider its presence relatively small in global terms, but in Irish terms Microsoft's Dublin office is akin to Ma Bell in its heyday. At this point, we literally cannot afford to ever increase the corporation tax rate to anywhere near the rate in England or the continent. If we do, one or more multinational companies will leave, and the country will go under.

    Many of these same reasons lay behind the bail out of Irish banks this week by the government. Our banks are small in global terms, but if they go down, we go down with them. (And they were going down. Ireland's housing crisis is exactly the same as in the US only even more extreme). Before you mention it, I will say that yes, this country as a whole has been mismanaged. For many years. I and most people living here are chronically aware of this fact.

    Ireland has changed substantially in the last ~15 years. But I must stress that our great national fear has never gone away. That fear is that the country will become utterly bankrupt, and everyone in it will be reduced to abject poverty. "This country was a disaster." I've been told this over and over ad nauseum since I was old enough to speak. Even the cubs of the Celtic Tiger, for all their confidence, are dimly aware of this fact. Despite all the mobile phones and iPods, green beer, SUV's, wine counters, foreign holidays, etc, etc, Irish people collectively have not and will never let go of this one, real and ever present terror that they will be, as a nation, pauperised. Again. It has happened over and over and over. In the 1930's, the 1950's and the 1980's, and that's just in the modern era.

    Ireland still, to this day, has very little going for it, and people here will do everything they can to avoid going back to nothing. As such, I seriously doubt that they

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