Sunday 25 August 2019

Ireland keeping EU in dark on €13bn Apple bill: Vestager

European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager delivers a speech during the 2017 Web Summit in Lisbon
European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager delivers a speech during the 2017 Web Summit in Lisbon

Adrian Weckler in Lisbon

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has warned 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 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 told the Irish Independent at the Web Summit in Lisbon.

"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Government officials had reportedly been told by Ms Vestager's department that court action would be withdrawn if a start to collecting the money was made by the end of 2017.

Read More: 'There will always be tax loopholes' - Varadkar

Asked about this, Ms Vestager said that she would judge the situation as it progressed.

"We'll take the decision as we see how the Irish are moving forward," she said.

Ms Vestager also said that while the Commission had not been in contact with Apple since the launch of the 'Paradise Papers', it had 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 come 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 Papers' was launched yesterday and the day before so we've had no contact since the 'Paradise Papers'."

Irish Independent

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