Saturday 25 November 2017

Ireland launches appeal against controversial €13bn Apple tax deal

EU Competition Commission officials claim Apple underpaid its taxes by €13bn. Photo: Reuters
EU Competition Commission officials claim Apple underpaid its taxes by €13bn. Photo: Reuters

Sarah Collins in Brussels

Ireland will tomorrow launch a formal appeal against the controversial EU ruling that Apple received an unfair tax deal worth €13bn, and must pay it back with interest.

The Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said he’ll file the appeal against the European Commission’s decision to force Ireland to claw back the claimed tax subsidies, during an at times heated meeting with MEPs in Brussels today.

“The Government fundamentally disagrees with the European Commission’s analysis and the decision left the government no choice but to take an appeal to the European courts, and this will be submitted tomorrow,” told the European Parliament in Brussels Tuesday.

The case could drag on for years.

At the same session, the minister faced criticism of Ireland’s corporate tax regime, including  accusations that Ireland offers “brass plate arrangements” to foreign multinationals while taking EU bailout money. Mr Noonan said the country would “pay back every euro we’ve got”.

“Nobody will be out of pocket as a result of the Irish position,” he told MEPs in the European Parliament’s economic affairs committee, where he appeared for a routine post-bailout hearing.

On Apple, Mr Noonan said it was up to the US authorities to collect any back taxes due.

“It’s not our fault that there are mismatches between international tax practices,” Mr Noonan said, adding that it was “not just Ireland” that had special tax arrangements in place for multinationals.

The Government’s standing in Europe has taken a hit since European competition chief Margrethe Vestager found that Apple had received a €13bn unfair tax treatment in Ireland.

French MEP Bernard Monot asked when the Government would recoup the money, while Irish MEP Nessa Childers accused Mr Noonan of “stonewalling” the EU on its new corporate tax overhaul.

Ms Childers said the Government should consider supporting the new rules - known as the common consolidated corporate tax base, or CCCTB - in exchange for special treatment during the Brexit negotiations with the UK.

The grilling came the same day as EU finance ministers had a first round of talks on the CCCTB.

Mr Noonan said that he would “work constructively” on the draft rules, but said that they would shrink Ireland’s corporate tax take if applied in full.

He said Brexit posed “a real risk to our economy” but said that maintaining “a prudent fiscal policy” would help to deflect some of the negative effects of the UK leaving the bloc.

However, he criticised EU budget rules, which he said were not applied fairly across the EU.

“There is a perception that the rules are being applied differently for small and large member states. This is a real sensitivity for small member states.”

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