Tuesday 23 January 2018

Division over Apple is disastrous when those who oppose US firms will see crisis as an opportunity

Liz O'Donnell

Liz O'Donnell

Ministers returning to work after the summer break have had to hit the ground running. The European Commission's ruling that Ireland granted illegal tax benefits and state aid to Apple was a clock-stopper. Although expected, the amount, more than €13bn, sent shockwaves around the Irish and American business community. Notwithstanding the Government's denial of allegations of wrongdoing, there are inevitable claims that Ireland is a 'tax haven' for multinational companies like Apple. The Government and Revenue are emphatic that there was no sweetheart deal done and that all taxes due for Apple activities in Ireland were paid in full. Apple is to appeal the ruling.

But a fanciful notion has gained political traction from predictable quarters that Ireland should not appeal and instead pocket the tax due. The suggestion is to spend it on public services; pandering to the anti-austerity grievance in sections of the population.

Sinn Féin were first out of the traps in this vein, followed quickly by Anti Austerity and People Before Profit and, surprisingly, the Greens and Social Democrats, grandstanding on the moral high ground of tax compliance and accusing the Government of colluding with tax avoidance schemes and even of "economic treason".

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