Belfast Telegraph

Republic of Ireland rejects claims of 'secret' tax deal with Apple

By Brian Hutton

The Republic has denied striking a secret tax deal with technology giant Apple that would have allegedly broken EU rules on state aid.

Dublin has moved to counter claims that a "back room" agreement was struck with the world's richest company dating back two decades.

The Department of Finance said an ongoing investigation in Brussels into state aid to multinationals – including the iPhone maker – has yet to reach any final conclusions.

"Ireland is confident that there is no breach of state aid rules in this case and has already issued a formal response to the (European) Commission earlier this month, addressing in detail the concerns and some misunderstandings contained in the opening decision," a spokesman said.

"Ireland welcomed that opportunity to clarify important issues about the applicable tax law in this case and to explain that the company concerned did not receive selective treatment and was taxed fully in accordance with the law."

The Financial Times reported Apple is to be accused of prospering from illegal tax deals with the Irish government as part of the probe which could lead to record fines of as much as several billion euro.

Apple has denied any wrongdoing.

"There's never been any special deal, there's never been anything that would be construed as state aid," Luca Maestri, Apple's chief financial officer, said in an interview with the newspaper.

Brussels is trying to establish if Apple gets preferential treatment in Ireland. It is also investigating arrangements between coffee chain Starbucks and the Netherlands, and any deal between Luxembourg and car company Fiat.

The Irish government said the commission is looking at "advance opinions" given to Apple many years ago on how it could calculate "the taxable base of profits of this company".

"The inquiry relates to a technical tax issue in respect of this one company and does not relate to Ireland's corporation tax rate or the Irish corporate tax system more generally," the spokesman said.

Later this week, Brussels is expected to publish a formal letter sent to the Irish authorities in June, setting out the "opening decision" in the case.

Dublin said this was simply the next step in the investigation process, which allows those involved to respond.

"At this stage, the commission has not formally decided that there is state aid, only that it is formally examining this case," a government spokesman said.

"It is expected that a final decision in relation to this investigation will take a considerable period of time. "

He added: "As this is an ongoing legal process, Ireland will not be commenting further on any individual aspects of this case."

Apple has had a base in the Republic since 1980 and has expanded in recent years.

Belfast Telegraph

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