Open letter from Ireland questions Latvian tax

A dozen Latvian organizations in Ireland—including two hockey clubs and a young mothers’ group—have complained in an open letter about a recent statement by Finance Minister Atis Slakteris that Latvian immigrants in Ireland owe taxes to Latvia.

The letter, posted June 12 on the Internet portal Baltic-Ireland and on the Web site of the Latvian Society in Ireland, questions a statement by Slakteris that Latvian workers in Ireland owe Latvia the difference between the income tax rate in Ireland, 20 percent, and the rate in Latvia, 25 percent.

Oskars Kastēns, the special assignments minister for social integration affairs, earlier this year had questioned whether it was necessary to ask emigrants to Ireland to pay the difference. In a response reported on the Delfi portal, Slakteris said tax rules should apply equally to all residents registered in Latvia, no matter if they lived in Latvia or not.

The Latvians in Ireland argue that they are not residents of Latvia, because they spend more than 183 days of the year outside of their homeland. They also point to a 1997 convention between Ireland and Latvia that states income is to be taxed in just one of the countries.

“To whom, for what and how much do we owe, Mr. Slakteris?” the letter asks. “On what legal documents are your statements based?”

A study last year by SEB Unibanka reported that Latvians in Ireland return about EUR 300 million in income annually to Latvia.

Organizations signing the open letter include Baltic-Ireland, the Latvian Society in Ireland, the Latvian Association for Latvians in Ireland, the Latvian Children’s Activity Center, the Latvian Hawks hockey club, the Drogheda Icebreaks hockey club, the Women’s Club of Cork, the Youth Association of Cork, the Young Mothers Club of Ireland, the children’s art school BabyArt of Cork, the Limerick Latvian Society and the Latvian Catholic Support Group of Ireland.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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