A number of technology entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley were left red faced as Jerry Brown, the Governor of California, took a swipe at the tax laws of Ireland, which attract US corporations to invest in the European nation.
The outburst by the Californian Governor took place at Enterprise Ireland convention in San Francisco. The event was organized to highlight Irish American links. It also celebrated the dynamic nature of entrepreneurs from Ireland who headed to California to make their fortune by innovating as well as investing in new technologies.
Instead of the usual celebratory speeches, there was a marked hostility under the surface as the state’s most prominent politician attacked Ireland’s tax system and the American corporations that benefit from such arrangements. Governor Brown said that if California had a tax system identical to Ireland, then it would have been an independent nation.
Alluding to criminal activities
Brown’s remarks were one of a few swipes made about the tax regime prevalent in Ireland after Enda Kenny of Taiosearch had remarked about the great relationship between the US and Ireland. The governor jibed that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) was for all purposes an Irish company, which enjoys from what Brown referred to as a kind of “creative accounting.” He told the assembled audience that he was mystified by how Apple could do a lot of business in Ireland if it was a Californian business. He added that if one looks at the company’s tax returns, then Apple is actually an Irish business.
Brown also pulled no punches when he attacked the Irish fiscal policy. It left many Irish listeners among the audience more than a little uneasy. The Californian Governor stated that both Californians and Irish prefer to go against established conventions. He also said that the Irish were compelled to live adjacent to English all through their history. Brown mentioned that many Irish citizens live in San Francisco and do a lot of business on the street. However, eyebrows were raised when he chose to focus on Irish tax laws. The audience at the event included Government officials, and officials concerned with Enterprise Ireland as well as IDA.
The event was conceptualized to help Irish start-up companies trying to make inroads into American market. It was attended by Anne Anderson, the Irish envoy to the United States and a number of IDA officials like Barry O’Leary, its Chief Executive and several business persons from Ireland.