Saturday 17 March 2018

Apple boss 'wrong' in US testimony, says tax chief

Apple’s Tim Cook. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Apple’s Tim Cook. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Apple boss Tim Cook was "wrong" to say that the tech firm got a "tax incentive arrangement" in Ireland, the chairman of Revenue has said.

Niall Cody has told TDs at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the remarks by Mr Cook at a US Senate hearing in 2013 are "not correct".

Revenue chief Niall Cody. Photo: Tom Burke
Revenue chief Niall Cody. Photo: Tom Burke

In August, the European Commission ruled that Apple was the beneficiary of illegal State aid in Ireland and demanded that up to €13bn in back taxes be recovered from the company.

Both the Government and Apple have rejected this ­decision and denied any ­wrongdoing. While the Government is appealing the ruling, Revenue has been tasked with recovering the back taxes which are to be held in escrow until the end of legal proceedings. Mr Cody told TDs that Revenue had begun the process of calculating the sum to be sought from Apple.

He was asked about Mr Cook's comments in the US Senate, as well of those by another Apple executive who said the company negotiated a tax rate here of less than 2pc.


Mr Cody said he was constrained in what he could say about an individual taxpayer.

But he said: "What Tim Cook said in the Senate hearings is absolutely, in Revenue's opinion, not correct."

Sinn Féin's David Cullinane said it was "very serious" to accuse the head of a multinational organisation of false testimony. Mr Cody replied he could only talk about what happened in relation to Revenue and Apple in 1991 and 2007.

Mr Cody said he could not answer whether what was said in the Senate hearings was right or wrong. "I can only say what happened in Ireland... The impact of that was he [Mr Cook] was wrong."

Mr Cody insisted there was no special arrangement with Apple.

Fianna Fáil's Shane Cassells asked if the Apple controversy had been damaging for Ireland and Revenue. Mr Cody said he'd rather talk in general terms about international tax and Ireland's role in efforts at reform.

"We are punching above our weight in solving it but it has to be solved on an international basis," he said.

Separately, Mr Cody told TDs it would cost €3m to upgrade the Customs Service IT system to cope with a doubling of non-EU trade due to Brexit.

He said Revenue had been allocated an extra €5m in the Budget which would be used in part to hire 40 staff members to help plan for Britain leaving the EU.

Mr Cody said there could be "significant problems" relating to trade across the Border, including for the agri-sector and supply chains of "big multiples".

He added: "Legitimate trade will be facilitated as much as possible." Mr Cody said Revenue was looking at the EU borders with Norway and Turkey as possible models that could be implemented here.

Earlier, Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy told TDs Revenue carried out 400 random audits of individuals and businesses a year and found that about 40pc under-declared their tax liability between 2013 and 2015.

Irish Independent

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