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Meet the man who advises Google, Facebook and LinkedIn on tax dodging

October 29th, 2013 at 2:05 PM
Google Facebook LinkedIn Tax Dodging

If there’s one thing that Silicon Valley executives love more than having fancy product launch parties it’s avoiding taxes by funneling profits through Ireland. Bloomberg has written a profile of the person behind the tech industry’s tax magic, a man by the name of Feargal O’Rourke who heads up the tax division at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Ireland. In all, Bloomberg says that O’Rourke has advised tech giants such as Google, Facebook and LinkedIn on ways to stash profits safely away from the tax man by moving them through Ireland, whose government has come under criticism for allegedly enabling tax dodging through the use of tax loopholes designed to attract foreign investment.

Speaking with Bloomberg, O’Rourke vigorously denies that Ireland is any kind of tax shelter and says that his advice to tech companies on how to avoid taxes is entirely within the rules. Even so, Trinity College associate finance professor Jim Stewart tells Bloomberg that O’Rourke and like-minded tax accountants “think up these tax strategies and the impact is tens of billions in lost tax revenue in Europe, the U.S. and less-developed countries,” which explains why Ireland has come under greater pressure from other countries to close loopholes that make such avoidance possible.

O’Rourke, however, is having none of the moralizing over his line of work and says that if the United States and other countries are tired of their biggest companies avoiding taxes then they should change their laws.

“Why should Ireland be the policeman for the U.S.?” he tells Bloomberg. “They can change the law like that! I could draft a bill for them in an hour.”

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