IDA Ireland

IDA Ireland
Industrial Development Authority
autonomous non-commercial state sponsored body
Founded 1949
Headquarters Wilton Park House
Wilton Place
D02 YE35, Dublin, Ireland
Key people
Martin Shanahan, CEO
Frank Ryan, Chairman

IDA Ireland is the agency responsible for the attraction and inward foreign direct investment (FDI) into the Ireland. The agency was founded in 1949 as the Industrial Development Authority and placed on a statutory footing a year later. In 1969 it became a non-commercial automonous state-sponsored body.[1]


Throughout the 1950s, the IDA established its vision of 'industrialisation by invitation', a vision which initiated the low corporation-tax system that remains in place in Ireland today.[2] According to an article in a U.S. law journal in 1984, the IDA is 'probably the most powerful governmental agency in Ireland', as it 'acts as both coordinator and lobbyist for all matters relating to manufacturing and service industries as well as the industrial infrastructure'.[2] IDA Ireland has a large global network of branches/offices in the U.S., Europe, and Asia-Pacific.

While IDA Ireland gets its funding from the Irish State (costs of circa €48m in 2017), as an autonomous non-commercial state-sponsored body, it maintains its own independent Board and governance. IDA Ireland is authorised to issue grants and financial incentives to firms coming to Ireland (paid out €91 million in 2017).[3]

The IDA has been a success. As of 2018, foreign multinationals pay 80% of all Irish corporate taxes,[4] directly hire 25% of the Irish labour-force,[5] and are responsible for 57% of the non-farm economic value-add in Ireland (40% of value-add in Irish services and 80% of value-add in Irish manufacturing).[5][6] They comprise 14 of Ireland's top 20 firms (including tax inversions). Ireland's success in FDI is discussed in more detail in low tax economy. Ireland is now ranked as one of the leading corporate havens in the world (see corporate haven lists), and is considered by some as the largest.[7]


The IDA has been criticised for bringing in mainly U.S. firms to Ireland. There are no non-U.S./non-U.K. firms in Ireland's top 50 firms (by revenue), and only one by employees, the German retailer Lidl. The 14 foreign multinationals in Ireland's top 20 firms are all U.S-based (including tax inversions). The U.K. firms in Ireland, outside of retailers like Tesco who sell into Ireland (also like Lidl), are pre-2009 after which the U.K. changed its tax code (see U.K. transformation).[8][9][10] The IDA has failed to win substantive London business, and particularly the valuable financial services business, as a result of Brexit.[11][12][13]

Up until 2018, the U.S. was one of the last few global jurisdictions not to run a "territorial" tax system (the U.K. switched in 2009-12). Jurisdictions with "territorial" tax systems have separate, and much lower, tax rates for foreign-sourced profits, and therefore make less use of Ireland as a base.[14][15] While the IDA market Ireland as a base from which to sell into Europe,[16] Ireland is mostly a base for U.S. multinationals to shield themselves from the pre-TCJA “worldwide” tax system (see "Low Tax Economy").

U.S. multinationals aside, Ireland's main attractiveness is for life sciences manufacturing, who have an optimal combination of IP and tangible assets to use Ireland's main IP-based BEPS tool, the capital allowances for intangible assets scheme (which has an Irish effective tax rate of <3%). Japan is a large global source of life sciences manufacturing enterprises, and also has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, and is therefore a target market for the IDA to market Irish BEPS tax tools (and get Japanese life sciences companies to move their production to Ireland).[17]


Not only are U.S. multinationals the bulk of all foreign multinationals in Ireland, but they are also concentrated in a small group of very large technology and life science firms.[18][19][6] These firms have the "intellectual property" (or IP) needed to use Ireland's IP-based BEPS tax tools (which have effective Irish corporate tax rates of <3%). Ireland's largest company Apple, post their giant BEPS inversion in 2015 (see "leprechaun economics"), now represents circa 25% of Irish GDP. Because of Apple, the Central Bank of Ireland has had to replace Irish GDP with modified gross national income (or GNI*).

With the overhaul of the U.S. tax code under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, and a switch to a "territorial" system, it has been shown the net effective tax rates in the U.S. and Ireland are now almost identical, even with the replacement single malt system still in place (see effect of TCJA on Ireland).[20][21] There is a concern whether IDA Ireland can still be successful in such an environment, both in terms of keeping existing U.S. multinationals and attracting more.[22] This is amplified by Ireland's poor competitiveness in most non-taxation related aspects (see Global Competitiveness Report).[23][24][25][26]

See also


  1. "Entities audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General". Comptroller and Auditor General. 2008.
  2. 1 2 Barry, Frank; Ó Fathartaigh, Mícheál (2015). "The Industrial Development Authority, 1949–58: establishment, evolution and expansion of influence". Irish Historical Studies. 39: 460.
  3. "IDA Ireland 2017 Annual Report" (PDF). IDA Ireland. 2008.
  4. "An Analysis of 2015 Corporation Tax Returns and 2016 Payments" (PDF). Revenue Commissioners. April 2017.
  5. 1 2 "IRELAND Trade and Statistical Note 2017" (PDF). OECD. 2017.
  7. "Ireland is the world's biggest corporate 'tax haven', say academics". Irish Times. 13 June 2018. Study claims State shelters more multinational profits than the entire Caribbean
  8. "Tax Reform in the UK Reversed the Tide of Corporate Tax Inversions" (PDF). Tax Foundation. 14 October 2014.
  9. "How Tax Reform solved UK inversions". Tax Foundation. 14 October 2014.
  10. "The United Kingdom's Experience with Inversions". Tax Foundation. 5 April 2016.
  11. "Disappointing number of financials plan to come to Dublin post-Brexit". Irish Times. 28 December 2017. Transfers from London mainly going to Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Brussels and Paris
  12. "Dublin trails Frankfurt and Paris in Brexit finance jobs race". Sunday Times. 19 September 2017.
  13. "Lloyd's snubs Dublin for its EU base as the capital drops in world financial centre ranks. US insurance giant AIG also overlooked Ireland for its regional HQ". FORA. 30 March 2017.
  14. "A Territorial Tax System Would Create Jobs and Raise Wages for U.S. Workers". The Heritage Foundation. 12 September 2013.
  15. "How to stop the inversion perversion". The Economist. 26 July 2014.
  16. "Corporate Taxation in Ireland 2016" (PDF). Industrial Development Authority (IDA). 2018.
  17. "State's 'Ireland House' in Tokyo to cost almost €23m: New building will be biggest ever capital investment by Department of Foreign Affairs". Irish Times. 17 June 2018.
  18. "Warning over a hanful of foreign multinationals paying 80pc of corporate tax". Irish Independent. 22 February 2017.
  19. "20 multinationals paid half of all Corporation tax paid in 2016". RTE News. 21 June 2017.
  20. "Reassessing the Beloved Double Irish Structure (as Single Malt) in Light of GILTI". Taxnotes. 23 April 2018.
  21. "U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Winners and Losers". Taxnotes. 19 March 2018. p. 1235.
  22. "Warning that Ireland faces huge economic threat over corporate tax reliance - Troika chief Mody says country won't be able to cope with changes to tax regime". Irish Independent. 9 June 2018. And he said the Irish economy won't cope with radical changes to international tax rules, which will dent our attractiveness to multinationals.
  23. "Dublin overtakes London in most expensive cities to live in". Irish Independent. 15 March 2018. Dublin has overtaken London in a world-wide cost of living ranking because of the Brexit-induced weakening of sterling.
  24. "IDA warning on our competitiveness". Irish Independent. 7 May 2018.
  25. "Tight property supply constraints Dublin's Brexit appeal: Escalating prices and rents prompt anxiety about ability to draw more business". Financial Times. 31 January 2018.
  26. "No Irish university in the world's top 100 as the country's higher education sector falls further in global rankings". Irish Independent. 6 June 2018.

Further reading

  • Rafferty, Colm (2012) Fuelled by foreign investment, Incisive Media Limited
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