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Collins objects, Obama campaign retreats

August 14, 2012

By Staff Reporter

Irish ambassador to Washington, Michael Collins, is a quiet-spoken diplomat. But he apparently wields a decent sized stick.

Collins has managed to persuade the Obama administration to retreat from its stated view that Ireland is a “tax haven.”

The Obama campaign recently cited Ireland as a tax haven, this as part of an attack on GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The criticism followed reports of Romney having investments in countries around the globe, including Ireland, that offer tax advantages for investors and investments not available in the U.S.

Along with Ireland, the Obama campaign focused on Romney funds resting in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. The campaign added a graphic entitled: “Has Mitt Romney avoided US taxes by investing millions in tax havens?”

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Ireland does not consider itself a tax haven, but rather a “low tax country” for corporate investment. The corporate rate in Ireland is a lowly 12.5 percent.

The Irish government has repeatedly resisted calls from the U.S. and EU to raise this level.

After the Collins intervention, the jibe at Romney has been changed and acknowledges the Republic as a “low-tax country,” this under the new heading: “Has Mitt Romney avoided U.S. taxes by investing millions in tax havens and other low-tax countries?”

The u-turn came after contacts from the Irish embassy in Washington objecting to the allegation. Irish ambassador Michael Collins spoke directly with officials from the Obama campaign, the Irish Independent reported.

 The Obama campaign, the report added, had stated that a financial trust linked to Mr. Romney had an unknown amount of money funds and accounts in Ireland, this by way of an “Ann D Romney Blind Trust” which “held an interest in Goldman Sachs Liquid Reserves Fund and others.”

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