Wednesday 29 March 2017

EU probe 'to rule against' Ireland over Apple taxes

Apple may be gearing up for a recruitment drive that would cement its position as one of the country’s biggest private sector employers. Photo: JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images
Apple may be gearing up for a recruitment drive that would cement its position as one of the country’s biggest private sector employers. Photo: JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images

Colm Kelpie and Adrian Weckler

Brussels is reportedly set to announce within days the end of its long-running probe into whether Apple's tax treatment in Ireland amounted to unfair 'State aid' from the Government.

The 'Financial Times' reported last night that the European Commission may announce its findings at the start of September, and will find against Ireland - potentially meaning the US technology giant could be hit for back taxes that could amount to billions of euro.

However, Finance Minister Michael Noonan has already insisted the Government here will appeal against any adverse finding in the case, even though the back taxes would ultimately be paid to the Exchequer here.

Meanwhile in Cork, Apple may be gearing up for a recruitment drive that would cement its position as one of the country's biggest private sector employers. The company last week received planning permission to expand its facilities in Holyhill, which could lead to an additional 1,000 jobs at the facility. Apple currently employs 5,500 people in Ireland, and is Cork's biggest private sector employer. It has recently begun building an €850m data centre in Galway.

Read more: End of probe nigh as Apple could be hit for back taxes of billions of euro

The Department of Finance said it has no new information on either the timing of the decision from Europe, or what it will be. In July, Mr Noonan said a decision could come in September or October.

Last night, Apple officials pointed to a previous statement made on the matter. "Apple has received no selective treatment from Irish officials over the years. We're subject to the same tax laws as the countless other companies who do business in Ireland."

 The company's chief executive, Tim Cook, has previously said that Apple would appeal any verdict that did not reflect "a fair hearing".

Earlier this year, Apple's Irish Vice President of European Operations, Cathy Kearney, defended Apple's record on tax.

A finding against Ireland would be a major blow for the Government, which has insisted it has no case to answer.

Advantage

Brussels has accused Ireland of striking a tax arrangement with Apple that was based on keeping jobs here, but which gave the company an advantage that amounted to state aid and went against international guidelines.

The Apple probe dragged Ireland to the centre of the global controversy over ultra-low taxes paid by some big corporations.

Tensions between Washington and Brussels over the latter's state aid investigations involving a number of US companies, including Apple, has been high this year. Just this week, the US Treasury published a paper claiming that the probes were inconsistent with international norms and undermine the global tax system.

Irish Independent

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