Euro­pean court blocks US gov­ern­ment from Ap­ple tax case

Irish Independent - - Business - Stephanie Bodoni

THE United States gov­ern­ment has lost a bid to join Ap­ple’s court fight against the Euro­pean Union or­der that the tech gi­ant must pay Ire­land a record €13bn tax set­tle­ment.

The EU’s high­est court yes­ter­day re­jected the US re­quest, its press ser­vice an­nounced on Twit­ter. A lower court had dis­missed the re­quest in De­cem­ber, say­ing the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment failed to show it had a di­rect in­ter­est in the re­sult of the state-aid case.

In Au­gust 2016 the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion or­dered Ire­land to re­coup the record €13bn plus in­ter­est, say­ing the world’s rich­est com­pany had been handed an un­fair ad­van­tage due to its historic tax treat­ment in Ire­land. The Gov­ern­ment, which had been found to have pro­vided the aid, as well as Ap­ple, ap­pealed against the rul­ing.

Last year, the US asked the EU court for per­mis­sion to in­ter­vene in Ap­ple’s case, ar­gu­ing that the out­come of the case could af­fect its eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion due to the tax cred­its the iPhone maker could claim back in Amer­ica as a re­sult of pay­ing more taxes in Ire­land.

Any tax paid by Ap­ple in Europe can be de­ducted from the tax bill in its home, US mar­ket.

The EU’s Ap­ple or­der has re­ver­ber­ated across the At­lantic, trig­ger­ing crit­i­cism from the US Trea­sury that the EU was mak­ing it­self a “supra-na­tional tax author­ity” that could threat- en global tax re­form efforts. The text of yes­ter­day’s courts de­ci­sion wasn’t im­me­di­ately avail­able.

Ap­ple rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Lon­don didn’t im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Ap­peals over tax cases have been pil­ing up at the EU’s courts since 2015, when the Com­mis­sion is­sued its first or­ders against Luxembourg and the Nether­lands to re­coup un­paid taxes from a Fiat Chrysler cars unit and Star­bucks re­spec­tively.

The EU has also or­dered Luxembourg to re­cover €250m from Ama­zon and Bel­gium to get back as much as €700m from 35 com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing An­heuser-Busch.

At stake in all these de­ci­sions are bil­lions of euro that multi­na­tional com­pa­nies have squir­relled away in tax havens, out of the reach of au­thor­i­ties in the coun­tries where they make most of their sales.

With no court hear­ings in sight yet, the EU has been con­tin­u­ing its in­ves­ti­ga­tions, in­clud­ing those into the tax af­fairs of McDon­ald’s and Engie SA in Luxembourg. (Bloomberg)

Com­mis­sioner Mar­grethe Vestager at a news con­fer­ence on Ire­land’s tax deal­ings with Ap­ple at the EC in 2016

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