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Irish tax advisor helping Google and others save billions predicts loopholes will be closed

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Irish flag 640 flickr
Irish flag 640 flickr

Much has been said about the international tax loopholes that allow companies like Apple and Google to shave off billions in annual costs. But considerably less has been written about the people championing those very policies. Among them is Feargal O’Rourke, a powerful tax advisor who has developed unique strategies for high-profile multinational clients that ultimately help them pay the government less. Bloomberg recently profiled O’Rourke, the son of Mary O'Rourke — among Ireland's best known female politicians. Even as regulators across the globe look to close the loopholes he's found a way to leverage, O'Rourke insists there's nothing wrong with the Ireland's tax system. “Under no circumstances is Ireland a tax haven,” he tells Bloomberg News. "I’m a player in this game and we play by the rules.”

"I’m a player in this game and we play by the rules.”

In that game, O'Rourke also advises the Irish government on policy. Unsurprisingly, he pushes for legislation that will prove beneficial to the bottom line of his clients, which include Intel and Google. Under O'Rourke's guidance, Google has taken advantage of a tactic known as the "Double Irish," whereby — with the help of a business unit in Bermuda — Google avoids being charged significant income tax across most of the world. Bloomberg News says this saved the company $2.2 billion last year. But even the powerful advisor, who oversees a staff of 500, recognizes that there's pressure for change. O'Rourke predicts regulators could eventually be successful in curtailing some of the policies that have led to cash piles for some of the world's biggest companies. But in the meantime, he's poised to help steer his clients to even more savings. “I like selling Ireland,” he says. “We have a lot to offer.”