Deal on Apple tax cash due 'in weeks'
Apple and the Government are close to a deal that will protect Irish taxpayers from any losses that could occur while both sides appeal against the EU's €13bn back taxes ruling, a source said.
As much as €15bn - including the original tax bill and interest - will have to be collected from Apple and held by the Government during what is set to be a lengthy appeals process.
The money will be in an escrow account.
But with interest rates at all time lows, and in many cases negative, the Government needs to find a mechanism to hold Apple's money without being on the hook if the amount is reduced by costs, and the appeals succeed.
If the appeals fail, the State will ultimately have to take the cash.
In an order that reverberated across the Atlantic, the European Commission last year slapped Apple with a multi-billion euro bill, saying Ireland granted unfair deals that reduced the company's effective corporate tax rate. It ordered the Government here to collect the back taxes.
If the appeal, which could take as long as five years, is successful, the money held in escrow will be returned to Apple.
The Government wants to make sure it isn't liable for any drop in the value of the fund while the case winds its way through the EU courts.
An agreement on the issue may come within weeks, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations on the structure of the proposed account have yet to be finalised.
Meanwhile, Apple, while declining to comment on the funds, said: "We continue to cooperate with Ireland on the recovery process the commission has mandated but remain confident that once the General Court of the EU has reviewed all the evidence it will overturn the commission's decision."
Ireland should step up its efforts to recoup unpaid taxes from Apple or it could end up in court, the European Commission said in May. The money was supposed to be collected by January 3.
The terms of the fund are still being negotiated, the Government said last month, as it sought tenders to manage the money.
The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), which will help oversee the money on behalf of the Government, declined to comment.
The European Commission said it expects that Ireland will make material progress to implement recovery "as soon as possible". (Bloomberg)