Ryanair paying no tax
"Michael O'Leary's Ryanair effectively paid no corporate tax in its 2009 financial year, despite generating record sales of nearly €3bn."
In fact, the low-cost airline (now Europe's biggest) got a €1.5m tax refund. Effective tax rates for all businesses fluctuate; nevertheless Ryanair's has long been below the (already very low) Irish tax rate of 12.5%.
"Annual reports reveal it had an effective tax rate of just 3.4 per cent in 2007, with an effective tax rate of 9.4 per cent in 2006."
Incredibly, while Ryanair's O'Leary likes to posture as the cutting edge of Irish capitalism, his airline receives state handouts in the form of "marketing support", free cleaning services and ground support, amounting to an estimated €660 million a year. According to rival airline Lufthansa, O'Leary's low cost operation would run at a loss without these subsidies.
Ireland seems to be in a bad enough situation:
"Last week, Exchequer returns revealed the shocking state of government coffers. Corporation tax receipts have fallen off a cliff, with the latest projection suggesting that companies will pay 19 per cent less tax this year."
Yet as we explained recently, matters are even worse than most people think.