Professor joins corporation tax cut battle

Professor Richard Barnett, vice chancellor of the University of Ulster, has spoken up in favour of slashing corporation tax in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony at the university, Professor Barnett said that corporation tax in Northern Ireland should be reduced to the same level of 12.5 per cent that the Republic of Ireland enjoys.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, Professor Barnett said that there would be more highly salaried opportunities for graduates if corporation tax were reduced as Northern Ireland's businesses would be saving money on tax.

"Government must also provide an environment in which business can flourish. In this regard the rate of corporation tax is important," he said.

He said that while corporation tax in the UK is 28 per cent, Northern Ireland's closest rival for business is the Republic of Ireland, where the tax is lower.

"All the leading commentators point to investment in education and a low corporation tax as the key factors in leading to the south's economic success," the Professor continued. "If we are to enjoy such success here in the north and high wage jobs for those graduating today, I am of the firm opinion that now that he is Prime Minister with wider responsibilities, Gordon Brown must accept the argument of the local Executive and of leading economic commentators and…reduce the rate of corporation tax here to a level equal to that in the south."

He concluded: "Quite simply, if you were an overseas investor considering creating high wage jobs on this island would you locate here and pay tax at 28 per cent or locate a few miles down the road in the south and pay tax at 12.5 per cent?"

In the meantime, small business owners who are unsure of their tax obligations should visit their solicitors to sort out their accounts.

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