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The Almighty Buck Businesses

Facebook Finds Grass Greener In Ireland 287

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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  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Friday October 03, 2008 @10:54AM (#25246233) Homepage

    So our country goes farther in the hole every day and big companies skip out overseas to avoid paying taxes here. You don't have to be a financial expert to know that just ain't right.

  • by GlobalColding ( 1239712 ) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:03AM (#25246359) Journal
    How do we, the citizens get in on this? Offshore banking isn't illegal, neither is having an offshore company. Where does one start researching this information? Considerations are lack of transparency, lowest fees, internet accessability, and no insane initial deposits like in Switzerland. Come on folks, dish!
  • by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:24AM (#25246671) Journal

    Sorry, but I need to correct you.

    This round of change problems came around with Nixon, not with Clinton. Similar sounding name, but diff. When corporations began to be unaccountable and stop having to report things, a number of almost immediate changes took place. Not over months, but days. Noerr Pennington doctrine in 1972 is where they decided "it's legal to use money to influence political power". It's where "felony interference of a business model" came around. After that Reagan, Bush Sr, they all kept it going even worse.

  • by Miamicanes ( 730264 ) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:28AM (#25246715)

    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).

    What's needed is a social networking site with a concept of groups as containers for acquaintances and other groups, applying permissions in the order of default-deny, groups with permission, groups denied, individuals permitted, individuals denied. THEN, when you post something, you'd be able to specify its visibility scope across those groups... possibly, even creating fake or munged entries for some groups to see in lieu of "real" entries, and NO way for acquaintances to discern which group(s) they're in, or even which groups exist at all.

    Then, you could create a safe, bland (semi-)public page for (almost) everyone to see, but let the appropriate acquaintances see things appropriate to their relationship with you... and possibly even maintain one or more "parallel universes" that completely override each other for people with two or more groups of friends that should (ideally) NEVER encounter each other (parents and drinking buddies being an obvious example). Ideally, you could even set up one or more "duress" passwords that logged you in as an admin for your profile with access to only a subset of your real one, in case someone like a girlfriend or family member coerced you into logging in with them present to "prove" something. By allowing an unlimited number of duress passwords with unlimited groups and parallel universes, you'd effectively achieve plausible deniability... nobody could ever force you to reveal things, because they could never know for sure whether you were logged in with a duress password or your real one.

    The sad thing is, a feature like THIS would be the perfect way to monetize something like Facebook... keeping the current model free, but charging monthly or annual fees to add more sophisticated group management and/or depth.

  • Re:No Patriotic duty (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:56AM (#25247099)

    nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands

    A couple of years ago I saw statistics for the number of UK tax payers who voluntarily payed more tax than they were required to, presumably because they thought the government was spending it so wisely.

    There were 2.

  • Privacy/Safe harbor (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 03, 2008 @12:00PM (#25247143)

    If facebook is moving its operations to Ireland, doesn't this mean that it is no longer compliant (as if it ever was) under EU privacy laws?

    Anonymous coward has no further details, so I suspect that this thread will fall the wayside of score 0.

  • by daigu ( 111684 ) on Friday October 03, 2008 @12:06PM (#25247221) Journal

    What the neoconservative right ISN'T asking is who bears the burden for paying the taxes and paying off the debt for wars like Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., maintaining the military in hundreds of bases around the world (the DoD is the world's largest single consumer of oil), and paying the higher costs associated with producing everything elsewhere and shipping it to the United States - otherwise known as the trade deficit.

    Unfortunately, if you don't have sound fiscal policies and a sane foreign policy, there is nothing you can do attract people to stay because it leaves people with smaller and smaller pieces of pie and more people to share it with. It's the Law of the Jungle in action, and most conservatives don't understand the connection - despite all their talk of "free markets".

  • Balancing act (Score:3, Interesting)

    by halcyon1234 ( 834388 ) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Friday October 03, 2008 @12:09PM (#25247263) Journal
    This should just about balance out the tax lost when Bono "I'm all about supporting the little guy" NoLastName moved all of U2's holdings out of Ireland [google.ca]
  • by cetialphav ( 246516 ) on Friday October 03, 2008 @12:47PM (#25247791)

    Bingo! This is just competition. For most of our history, governments had very little competition (except for the occasional war here and there) and were economic monopolies. That is starting to change with globalization. When companies can easily do business all around the globe, what is the meaning of corporate headquarters? Most modern nations now are roughly equivalent in terms of available talent, language (English is the language of commerce in much of the world), infrastructure, and legal protections. So if you can pay less taxes in country A than country B, then why not relocate? This sort of thing has happened within the US for years as states and cities compete for headquarters and factories. Now it also happens globally.

    Is Ireland smarter? I don't know. If the taxes are too low, they may not be able to adequately provide infrastructure and that would hurt them in the long term as they rack up debt and then have to pay for it as companies leave them. But if they are simply more efficient than the US and can support the lower tax base, then good for them. It will force us in the US to become more efficient to compete.

  • Ass backwards (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Friday October 03, 2008 @12:50PM (#25247831) Journal

    The fair tax penalizes people for spending money. That is, without a doubt, a bad thing for the economy as a whole.

    I'd prefer a gross receipts tax on every TIN (that's taxpayer identification number, aka SSN for individuals and TIN for corps). A small percentage (3-4%) of every dollar you receive goes to the government. I'm even okay with a 2087xFMW (annual min wage salary) against any receipts. It sounds like the fair tax, but it's essentially a "fee" for all transactions in the US. Think of them as real estate agents...just cheaper. Spending costs you "nothing" extra. Multi-level corporate schemes cost the tax rate x the number of layered corporations. Yes, it will "double tax" S-corps. Big deal - you want the protection of a corporation - a Government institution - you pay the fee. I happen to get all my income from an S corp, so I would be affected. Sole Propriatorship or Partnership avoids that tax, and it makes all the officers liable for any screwups they do. That can hardly be seen as a bad thing. It also rewards short distributor chains (or, rather, punishes large chains) so items made an sold locally directly from the source have the lowest tax (i.e. it's "green"...but don't tell anyone).

  • Re:Ass backwards (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jemminger ( 914046 ) on Friday October 03, 2008 @01:22PM (#25248277)

    In the UK, the VAT is 17.5%. That's a pretty big hurdle, and they have a whole slew of other taxes as well.

    As written, there would only be a national sales tax of 23%. By replacing the income tax with a sales tax, companies no longer have to pay the "embedded" taxes of payroll tax etc, so cost of manufacturing drops by roughly 22%, effecting about a net 1% increase in price of goods as compared to today's prices. Not to mention the prebate that everyone will get... it's such a win for everyone, especially those on the lower income strata.

    no matter how many times they say it will replace the income tax I don't believe it. The tax will creep up.

    Well, the only way I would vote for the FairTax is as it is written in HR 25, which is to repeal the 16th Amendment. No more federal income tax period. As for state income tax, the book explains why states would follow suit in dropping it but I don't remember the reasoning off the top of my head.

    In FL, don't you also have an intangable assets tax?

    Not that I'm aware of... we don't file any sort of state tax on April 15, just the federal.

  • by darkfire5252 ( 760516 ) on Friday October 03, 2008 @04:01PM (#25250327)

    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.

    Well, the original reason that it was important to pass ASAP right-this-very-moment is that the original bill text, as recommended to the legislative branch by the executive branch (treasury secretary and president), contained a clause that said "any actions taken by the secretary under this bill are not review-able by the legislative branch nor are they contestable in any court of law."

    President Bush demands that the legislative branch provides him with un-checked power and authority to dispose of $700 billion in the last few months of his administration? Sounds like nothing but a power grab to me.

  • by Gaian-Orlanthii ( 1032980 ) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @04:53PM (#25258437)
    Ireland has had resources to draw on for years (oil and gas fields for example) but in my opinion, the real problem is the Irish themselves.

    You say that the last 15 years have seen considerable changes in Ireland but those changes were only on the surface. Irish culture has hardly changed and that is the most serious problem the Irish have. Themselves.
    From the days of Laughing Stock Of Europe through the Celtic Tiger/Rip-off Republic era to today's ignominy as the first country in Europe to declare a recession, the Irish have learned very little at all.
    As a nation, they're famously venal and shortsighted with a strong streak of incompetence and procrastination.
    Massive overspending on credit, status anxiety and explosive urban sprawl were the hallmarks of the Irish in the Celtic Tiger and let's not leave out the infamous Irish greed for property. For the price you'd pay for a castle in England http://www.propertyshowrooms.com/united%20kingdom/property/news/richard-hammond-buys-haunted-herefordshire-castle_19029.html/ [propertyshowrooms.com], you'd be lucky to afford a house on the Rathgar road.
    Why would anyone want to pay that much to live in a country with low building standards, an incompetent and ineffectual judiciary and a culture of smirking corruption at the highest level? Hell, you could move to Italy or Bulgaria for that and get better weather.

    No, the Irish have blown it - again. And they can't whine and blame the English this time. If anyone truly believes that the Irish are in this bind because they happen to live on an island with little resources, please STFU and go to Iceland.

    And for the record, I'm Irish.
  • by harmlessdrudge ( 718066 ) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @07:05PM (#25259543)

    Written like a true Irishman, bearing in mind Samuel Johnson's dictum: the Irish are a very fair people, they only speak ill of each other.

    Still, it makes a refreshing change from the endless narcisissm of American blowhards who get all bent out of shape if you dare run for office without the flag pinned to your lapel.

    As it happens, Ireland's greatest resource is its people. Evidently you've been educated in Ireland. Already you are among the best educated in the world. You have to travel to appreciate this and you couldn't have written this drivel if you'd traveled, so it's clear that you haven't.

    For a true perspective on the "nothing going for it" comment, which is inane (sorry, but it's true), you need to spend some time in countries that don't work at all. You have NO IDEA how privileged the Irish are. I suggest you consult the UN Human Development Index (http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/); the Economist Quality of Life Index (http://www.economist.com/media/pdf/QUALITY_OF_LIFE.PDF) or visit places like the Philippines where Ireland features AHEAD of the US, Australia, Canada and the UK on the adverts for desirable desintations to work.

    The Irish fear of pauperisation is nothing but a folk memory and a laughable one at that. The fact is that with a post-industrial economy the Irish have the highest per capita income in the EU except for Luxembourg. Luxembourg is ahead only by not counting workers who enter the country on a daily basis. It is the EU's little emirate and completely inconsequential non-entity.

    (Name one famous person from Luxembourg)

    Ireland's per capita income is well ahead of the UK and the US and the gap is increasing (check the World Bank statistics).

    What would Ireland look like if it had something going for it?

    You seem to forget that the Irish workforce adds value. Intel and many others came for cheap labour and stayed for the quality of the workforce and the quality of life.

    Incidentally, I voted with my feet the day Charles Haughey -- the greatest cretin ever to hold public office in Ireland -- was re-elected. And were I American I'd do the same if Ms.Palin got anywhere near the oval office. There are limits.

    When I left Ireland there was no such thing as green beer. It was invention of Americans and despised in Ireland. If the Irish are now drinking green beer in Ireland the country really has gone to the dogs. Will you proclaim now that you are also eating corned beef and cabbage? (Every American thinks this)

    Infrastructure: You're wet behind the ears kid. When I left Ireland the waiting in Dublin for a telpehone was 7 years. I went to the US and the waiting list was 3 days and people were hopping mad about it.

    Can you spell Ryanair? Get off your backside and see a bit of the world and realize the size of the silver spoon in your overprivileged gob.

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