European Commissioner says Ireland hasn't started collecting €13bn Apple tax
The European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, has said that she has been given “no indication” of when Ireland will begin to collect €13bn in back tax from Apple.
Last month, Ms Vestager announced that the Commission would take court enforcement action against Ireland over failure to collect the tax money, which is under appeal by both Ireland and Apple.
Irish officials insist that they are still working to comply with the Commission ruling, which will involve calculating the exact amount to be owed before setting up an escrow account.
However, Ms Vestager says she is still unclear about the timeframe by which Dublin will collect the €13bn.
"We have no indication when it comes to the time perspective in recovering the unpaid taxes from Apple," she said today when asked by Independent.ie.
"We do have from the Irish government the progress made when it comes to figuring out how to deal with such amounts of recovered taxes. I respect the complexities of how to keep €13bn while the court case takes place. But we need to see progress when it comes to making the recovery because we have seen that the Belgians have done it, the Dutch have done it and Luxembourg has done it in terms of recovery. Because of equal treatment, we expect the Irish to do it."
Government officials had reportedly been told by Ms Vestager’s department that court action would be withdrawn if a start to collecting the money was made by the end of 2017.
Asked about this, Ms Vestager said that she would judge the situation as it progressed.
"We will look at the progress in the case, but it remains to be seen," she said. "We’ll take the decision as we see how the Irish are moving forward."
Ms Vestager also said that while the Commission has not been in contact with Apple since the publication of the Paradise Papers, it has been in communication with the tech giant over its reorganised structure. She said it was too early to say whether the Paradise Papers might prompt another probe of Apple.
"It is very early days in that respect," she said.
"Knowing how Apple is organised now, it remains to be seen if more cases from the Paradise Papers. We have taken an interest in getting to know how Apple is organised now and we did that before the publication of the Paradise papers. The Paradise Paper was launched yesterday and the day before so we’ve had no contact since the Paradise Papers."
Apple declined to comment on Ms Vestager’s remarks.
In its lengthy tax decision of August 2016, the European Commission noted that meetings and detailed correspondence had occurred between Apple, the Commission and Irish authorities concerning Apple’s revised corporate structure.
This is understood to refer to the same ‘residency’ changes outlined in the Paradise Papers.