Belfast Telegraph

Apple tax critics mistaken, insists Ireland minister

By Ed Carty

Critics of the Republic's tax regime in the wake of Europe ordering Apple to pay €13bn (£11bn) in back taxes are drawing outdated and unfair caricatures, Ireland's finance minister has said.

As the Dail in Dublin was recalled early to debate the controversial ruling, Michael Noonan reiterated the Irish Government's position that no sweetheart deal had been agreed with the iPhone maker.

"It is simply untrue that Ireland provided favourable treatment to Apple," he said.

Politicians are being asked to back the State's decision to appeal against the order by a Brussels competition watchdog to recoup €13bn.

The ruling by Commissioner Margrethe Vestager found that Ireland gave Apple a tax deal that ultimately allowed the global brand to pay 0.005% tax in 2014 - just €50 for every million euros of profit.

"The reaction to the European Commission's decision has, at times, painted an outdated and unfair caricature of Ireland's position on tax," Mr Noonan said.

"This is a caricature that is at odds with the evidence and which overlooks our proven track record in recent years. The facts show our constructive engagement at the international table, with matchless implementation of reforms ahead of many of our partner countries."

The fiery debate came as Apple boss Tim Cook launched the company's next-generation iPhone in San Francisco.

In the wake of the ruling, Apple confirmed it had made provisions on its balance sheets for $30bn of "deferred" tax bills in the US.

Mr Noonan insisted that the tech giant, which holds about $230bn in cash reserves, paid full taxes in Ireland and got no special treatment from its Revenue Commissioners.

"Ireland has done nothing wrong here," he told the Dail. "We have a proven track record in international tax reform and a matchless commitment to meeting the best international standards.

"We should not see ourselves through the eyes of our detractors - those who would paint a cartoonish and negative image of Ireland."

Part of the debate is The Republic's 12.5% corporation tax rate.

Mr Noonan said that was founded on fairness, transparency, consistency and the rule of law. He added that the European Commission ruling was encroaching on sovereign states' decisions on tax.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny also rejected claims of a sweetheart deal for Apple.

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