‘No plans’ for reduction of corporation tax in Northern Ireland - Murphy

Economy minister Conor Murphy posing with arms folded.
Economy minister Conor Murphy.

There are no current plans to cut corporation tax in Northern Ireland, the Stormont Economy Minister has said.

Conor Murphy was speaking as he outlined his economic vision in the Assembly on Monday.

Stormont has had the power to cut corporation tax since 2015, but it must first demonstrate sustainable financing to the UK treasury.

The economy minister said the current issues around financing of public services in the north mean corporation tax is not high on the agenda.

The UK’s rate of corporation tax is currently 25%, while the ‘headline’ rate in the Republic is 12.5%.

A move to cut the rate in Northern Ireland has been long mooted.

The UK Government’s recent Safeguarding the Union command paper includes a commitment to progress the devolution of the business tax.

But speaking in Assembly on Monday, Conor Murphy told MLAs it is “not something we’re rushing into”.

“The difficulty for us is that the Treasury’s approach to the devolution of taxation and particularly corporation tax is that they want the money upfront that they think it would yield - that comes directly from our public services,” he said.

“Our public services are so underfunded, and we are so underfunded in terms of our level of need, that I don’t think it’d be conscionable to try and denude them anymore of finance in order to hope for the benefit back that a lower corporation tax might mean ... and you don’t have any guarantees in relation to what it would bring back.

“So I do think we have economic levers in terms of our approach to the policies we can set and we have to use them as best we can in the time ahead to try and grow the economy. I don’t see corporation tax playing any part in that any time soon.”

Mr Murphy’s plan is to prioritise creating good jobs, increasing productivity, achieving regional balance, and reducing carbon emissions in accordance with the legal requirement to reach net zero by 2050.