Apple to be fined billions over tax?

30 August 2016
Apple to be fined billions over tax?

Apple and Ireland have had an interesting relationship when it comes to paying tax, and as a result of this, the tech behemoth is looking at a fine which could end up in the billions.

There are claims that Apple have had preferential treatment from Ireland, and now, they could be asked to pay it back.

It has been suggested that Apple have been getting state tax aid, which is illegal under EU rules, but of course, both parties could argue their way out of this, so there's no point looking at this like a victory just yet.

Of course, Apple aren't the only company who have been accused of this, which means a number of firms will be keeping tabs on the situation, to see if they'll be hit with massive fines too.

The US Treasury hit out at Europe's tax avoidance crackdown, saying that the European Commission's probe undermines the international tax system.

The companies who are being investigated, of course, say that what they're doing is completely legal.

Should Europe get back the aforementioned billions from American companies, this of course, means that the United States authorities have less to claim back themselves.

This clearly isn't an altruistic move on anyone's part.

America did nod to the problem of companies getting (alleged) aid from countries like Ireland, Luxembourg, and Belgium, in the shape of massive tax breaks.

Washington is happy about any rules being applied in the future, but not anything that penalises their companies in retrospect.

The Irish government will almost certainly appeal any decision they feel goes against them, and don't see that they're doing anything wrong.

Irish junior finance minister Eoghan Murphy said: "We don't believe we gave any state aid to Apple."

This is going to get messy.


It's all kicking off! EU commissioner Margrethe Vestager, talking about the Apple tax ruling, where the commission found faults, and said that Apple will have to stump up €13bn in tax:

"These profits allocated to the "head offices" were not subject to tax in any country under specific provisions of the Irish tax law, which are no longer in force."

"As a result of the allocation method endorsed in the tax rulings, Apple only paid an effective corporate tax rate that declined from 1% in 2003 to 0.005% in 2014 on the profits of Apple Sales International."

"Member states cannot give unfair tax benefits to selected companies, no matter if they are European or foreign, large or small, part of a group or not."

"[In 2011], for every million in profits, it [Apple] paid just €500 in taxes. This effective tax rate dropped further to as little as 0.005% in 2014 which means that even less was paid in taxes - it was €50 euros per €1m in profits."

"Our decision concludes that splitting the profits [between different Apple companies] did not have any factual or economic justification. The company's head office - or so called head office as it only existed on paper - had no employees, no premises and no real activities."

Apple aren't happy, and in a statement from Tim Cook, have said: "The European Commission has launched an effort to rewrite Apple's history in Europe, ignore Ireland's tax laws and upend the international tax system in the process."

"The opinion issued on August 30th alleges that Ireland gave Apple a special deal on our taxes. This claim has no basis in fact or in law."

"We never asked for, nor did we receive, any special deals. We now find ourselves in the unusual position of being ordered to retroactively pay additional taxes to a government that says we don't owe them any more than we've already paid."

"The Commission's move is unprecedented and it has serious, wide-reaching implications. It is effectively proposing to replace Irish tax laws with a view of what the Commission thinks the law should have been. This would strike a devastating blow to the sovereignty of EU member states over their own tax matters, and to the principle of certainty of law in Europe."

"Ireland has said they plan to appeal the Commission's ruling and Apple will do the same. We are confident that the Commission's order will be reversed."

Michael Noonan, finance minister of Ireland, says: "The decision leaves me with no choice but to seek cabinet approval to appeal the decision before the European Courts."

"This is necessary to defend the integrity of our tax system; to provide tax certainty to business; and to challenge the encroachment of EU state aid rules into the sovereign member state competence of taxation."

"It is important that we send a strong message that Ireland remains an attractive and stable location of choice for long-term substantive investment. Apple has been in Ireland since the 1980s and employs thousands of people in Cork. The company has continued to expand its operations in Ireland in recent times."


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