February 8, 2012 / 10:41 PM / 8 years ago

Ireland offers tax break to highly skilled workers

* Fin Min says needs to fight to retain foreign investment

* Measure only applies to new arrivals

* 30 pct of income over 75,000 euros exempt from tax

DUBLIN, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Ireland will cut the amount of tax levied on some highly skilled foreign workers, in a bid to attract new investment to the flagging economy.

The concession, which will only apply to workers who arrive over the next three years, is a bid to prevent other countries from luring foreign investors away from Ireland, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said.

Ireland’s economy is highly dependent on multinational investment, particularly from IT, pharmaceutical and financial services companies attracted by Ireland’s 12.5 percent corporate tax rate, which is among the lowest in Europe.

With the domestic economy still shrinking in the aftermath of a huge housing bust, the government is dependent on the exports, much of which are created by foreign owned firms.

“Very high skilled research and development people will be attracted into the country, around whom a significant number of jobs will be created,” said Noonan.

Under the measure, an exemption from income tax on 30 percent of salary between 75,000 euros and 500,000 euros ($99,400 and $662,700) will be provided for employees.

Those taking advantage of the tax break will be required to detail the number of Irish workers employed by the company, but no minimum number of new positions is specified in the draft legislation.

Ireland’s top income tax rate is 41 percent, but foreign executives complain that other levies and duties push the effective rate above 50 percent, making the country an unattractive destination for expatriates.

The opposition Sinn Fein party said it was “unbelievable” that the government was giving tax breaks to high-earners while squeezing the income of lower-paid workers in an programme of austerity measures being overseen by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. ($1 = 0.7545 euros) (Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Richard Chang)

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