What If Ireland Treated Its Citizens Like Multinationals? We Investigate


AS part of our WWN investigates series, we spent several million euros transforming an actor we hired into a multinational company to see what we could get away with in Ireland, and the results were staggering.

In September 2013, we hired actor James Connolly on a 36-month contract to pose as a multinational corporation that we aptly named ‘Potato’ so that we could avail of Ireland’s unique tax system, which has recently come under the microscope for what is essentially tax evasion.

First of all, we needed to trade James internationally to achieve his multinational status as a business. Our only option was to sell him to slave markets, buying him back and selling him on again, over and over. Following three months of this, we managed to trade James in over 100 countries, gaining his multinational status back home and a €457mn bank balance, which we now obviously needed to avoid paying taxes on.

Once registered as a multinational, we rented out an office space in Dublin’s docklands where James would be based for the next 3 years. We rang the Irish revenue office to advise them we would not be paying any tax on the almost half a billion euros we made that year as we were just going to pretend we needed to pay a ‘franchise fee’ to our headquarters which we conveniently located on a small island tax haven. The revenue commissioners insisted we would have to pay some tax and advised us that our multinational business should probably think about hiring more people, pointing out the fact “the more jobs a multinational creates in Ireland, the less revenue they have to pay”, before then calculating the tax bill to be 25k, which we later docked from James’ salary.

With year one’s tax bill successfully evaded, we decided to invest and clone James several thousand times over and house the infant James babies in an IDA unit in a Leitrim industrial estate. Each James was immediately given an unpaid position at the company, and for year two our workforce had grown from 1 employee to 7,654 employees, with then Taoiseach, Enda Kenny chiming in with the news and visiting our Leitrim unit for a photo shoot. This resulted in yet another tax free year for Potato. However, our overheads took over half our previous year’s takings, leaving us with just €203mn in the bank for year three.

We found the cost of keeping the baby James clones alive was escalating, and decided to contract the now 22-month-old toddlers to work, assembling small components for smartphones and other tech devices to generate their keep. By year three, we were already up €4bn in revenue and decided to extend James’ contract for another year to continue this investigation.

Unfortunately, over half of the James clones succumbed to an unknown illness, probably caused by genetic mutations during the cloning stage, cutting the workforce down to 3,897, and more importantly, jeopardising our tax evasion system. By now, James, or Potato as he’s officially known, became a front page story of a Sunday Times investigation into multinational tax evasion. This, and the discovery of nearly four thousand infants working for zero money in an ill-equipped technology sweatshop in Leitrim, almost ruined the company for good.

In January 2017, we decided to complete our investigation and wrap up our operations. However, after hearing the news, several government ministers intervened and Potato was later offered a multi-million euro tax rebate in a bid to keep the four thousand clones in work. We accepted.

Today, Potato employs 11,567 children and generates over €34.87 every year for the local economy.