Sunday 18 March 2018

Investment increased since Apple ruling, says IDA chief

IDA chief Martin Shanahan
IDA chief Martin Shanahan
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The European Commission's ruling on tech giant Apple's tax arrangements has not hit multinational investment here, the boss of IDA Ireland has insisted.

Appearing at the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Martin Shanahan also said the commission's plan to initiate legal proceedings over the Government's failure to recoup €13bn in unpaid taxes from the tech giant was "puzzling".

He said that investment by multinationals in Ireland had actually increased over the past year and that chief executives believed that Ireland had "a consistent, stable and transparent tax regime" and that this would continue.

The European Commission 2016 ruling found that the tax arrangements applied to the US technology company in the 1990s amounted to illegal state aid. The claim is contested by the Government and Apple and it is being appealed.

A January deadline for the Department of Finance to recoup the €13bn was missed, prompting Wednesday's announcement by EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager of the planned legal action.

At the PAC, Fianna Fáil TD Shane Cassells said the announcement "sent shockwaves through Government circles" and he asked Mr Shanahan how multinational CEOs were viewing the issue.

Mr Shanahan said that the Government and Department of Finance believed the commission's move was an "unnecessary step" - a view he shared - and referred to the efforts being made to recoup the €13bn. He said: "I don't believe that anybody has been negligent" and reiterated the Government's position that last year's commission findings on Apple were "unwarranted and unfounded".

In terms of how the Apple ruling has impacted on investment here, Mr Shanahan said "the results speak for themselves".

"We have seen no diminution of investment since the commission announced its initial decision in relation to Apple and Ireland," he said, adding that it had in fact increased.

"There is nothing to signal that this is causing an impact. In my discussions with CEOs and the senior leadership teams of companies, they are well aware of what I think of Ireland's position in relation to this.

"I think, if anything, they believe... we have a consistent, stable and transparent tax regime and that Ireland will continue to have that."

Mr Shanahan also said the commission's latest move was "puzzling" due to the massive sums of money that Ireland is being told to recoup.

"One might have thought that the commission would have understood that it would take time to set up the appropriate framework to recoup this money," he said.

Mr Shanahan said "significant progress" was being made in that process and said he indicated that he suspects setting up this framework may "overtake" any legal moves by the commission.

He told the PAC that IDA client companies had created just under 19,000 jobs during the year. When job losses are taken into account, that's a net increase of just under 12,000.

Irish Independent

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