No deal on Northern Ireland corporation tax powers

A meeting to hammer out a deal on devolving corporation tax powers to Northern Ireland has broken up without agreement.

The ministerial working group that includes the Treasury, the Stormont Executive and the Northern Ireland Office were meeting for what was meant to be the last time.

A decision was due from the government this summer.

But Treasury Minister David Gauke says "significant differences" remain.

Stormont and Westminster have not been able to agree how this tax could be devolved and how much it would cost.

'Crucial areas'

Any cut in corporation tax in Northern Ireland would have to be paid for by a corresponding cut in the amount Northern Ireland receives from central government.

These are, Mr Gauke has said in a statement, "crucial areas".

Secretary of State Owen Paterson said "big questions" remain around the potential costs.

The main rate of corporation tax in the UK is 24% while corporation tax in the Irish Republic is 12.5%.

Business leaders and politicians have argued that this puts Northern Ireland at a disadvantage.

They have argued that by putting the tax in line with the Republic, the Northern Ireland economy would be stimulated and inward investment would increase.

Another meeting will be held in September with more work by officials in the meantime.

But with so little movement on either an agreed formula or agreed amount, the prospect of devolving corporation tax to Northern Ireland, and lowering the rate to a more competitive level, is no closer.

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