Facebook’s Winding Down Its Irish Tax Havens

Facebook’s Winding Down Its Irish Tax Havens
Photo: Josh Edelson, Getty Images

After spending the past few years funelling billions of dollars through Ireland as a way to take advantage of the country’s relatively low taxes, it looks like Facebook is packing up its overseas operation.

The Sunday Times was the first to spot a new document filed with the Irish Companies Registration Office show that Facebook had begun dissolving three of its Ireland-based holding companies that were largely used for holding onto Facebook’s global intellectual properties, and licensing out this IP to other international Facebook companies for a given fee.

After catching wind of what the tech giant was up to, the IRS sued Facebook in 2016 as part of a probe into the company’s potentially dubious bookkeeping practices. This was followed up with another suit in February of this year alleging that since the company first began shifting its IP holdings to Irish subsidiaries in 2010, Facebook sidestepped more than $US9 ($12) billion in tax payments.

While Facebook hasn’t yet responded to Gizmodo’s request for comment, a spokesperson told The Times that returning its IP from Ireland back to the U.S. “best aligns corporate structure with where we expect to have most of our activities and people,” and that “we believe it is consistent with recent and upcoming tax law changes that policy makers are advocating for around the world.”

In addition to pissing off tax collectors, Facebook is currently facing a broad antitrust lawsuit from the Department of Justice and a plurality of state Attorneys General which seeks to unwind the social media juggernaut’s various properties.