EU countries want slice of Apple too
BUDGET squeezed EU countries will ask Brussels for a share of the billions in Irish back taxes ordered from Apple, bringing further problems to the tech giant after the lacklustre launch of the iPhone 7.
The European Commission, the EU’s competition regulator, last month ordered Apple to reimburse a record 13 billion euros (US$15 billion) in unpaid taxes in Ireland.
As part of its historic decision, which has angered Washington, the commission said other EU countries could also seek to claim a slice of the money pot, though doubts on the legality of the claims still remain.
Spain, which is under threat of an EU fine for breaking spending rules, said it was urgent to know how much Apple may have denied Spanish taxpayers.
In its landmark decision on August 31, the commission argued that Dublin handed Apple favourable tax terms that amounted to state aid – illegal under its rules.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager called Apple’s Irish operations a “sham”, designed to funnel revenue from across the globe to avoid paying tax.
“Of course we are examining it,” said Germany’s Wolfgang Schaeuble, the EU’s most powerful finance minister after two days of talks with his bloc counterparts.
But Mr Schaeuble, like many ministers, said much would depend on what the EU’s still-sealed decision actually contained, adding that he would ask the commission to clarify the issue at talks next month.
The European Commission said Apple only paid an effective corporate tax rate of just 0.005 per cent on its European profits in 2014 – equivalent to just 50 euros for every million.
That low rate “brought home the enormity of the problem and the enormity of the challenge that it doesn’t happen again,” said OECD secretary general Angel Gurria, who has led a global campaign to reform tax laws.
Mr Gurria said that the commission had clearly opened the door to sharing the tax pot to all countries, including the United States.
But any big pay day is a long way off, with Apple and Ireland committed to appealing the decision which launches an EU court battle that could take years. –