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Apple attacks European Commission after filing appeal against Irish tax ruling

Apple has hit out at the European Commission after filing an appeal against a ruling that would force the tech giant to return billions in unpaid taxes.

The US company launched its legal challenge overnight, as details of Ireland's appeal - which accused Brussels of exceeding its powers - went public.

Apple has been ordered to pay back 13 billion euro (£10.9 billion) over an Irish tax deal that allowed the tech giant to pay 1% tax on its European profits in 2003 and 0.005% in 2014, which the European Commission said amounted to state aid and breached antitrust law.

In a statement, Apple said it was confident the ruling would be reversed.

It said: " It's been clear since the start of this case there was a pre-determined outcome.

"The Commission took unilateral action and retroactively changed the rules, disregarding decades of Irish tax law, US tax law, as well as global consensus on tax policy, that everyone has relied on.

"If their opinion is allowed to stand, Apple would pay 40% of all the corporate income tax collected in Ireland, which is unprecedented and, far from levelling the playing field, selectively targets Apple.

"This has no basis in fact or law and we're confident the ruling will be overturned."

Apple stressed that it has paid billions of dollars in taxes and created 1.5 million jobs across the European Union.

The company's Irish base alone has been running since 1980 and currently employs 6,000 people.

The Department of Finance in Dublin published its own legal arguments on Monday, having also made the decision to appeal against the European Commission's order.

It said: "The Commission has exceeded its powers and interfered with national tax sovereignty.

"The Commission has no competence, under State aid rules, unilaterally to substitute its own view of the geographic scope and extent of the member state's tax jurisdiction for those of the member state itself.

It added: "The Commission never clearly explained its State aid theory during the investigation, and the decision contains factual findings on which Ireland never had the chance to comment.

"The Commission breached the duty of good administration by failing to act impartially and in accordance with its duty of care."

Ireland has structured its economy around attracting multinationals with its low corporate tax rate but left-wing critics have argued accepting the windfall could bring dramatic changes to national coffers during recovery from a recession.

Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy said that the Irish government's appeal "is weak, shows poor political judgment and (is) likely to fail".

He added: "Just last week Oxfam labelled the Irish state as the sixth worst corporate tax haven in the world, in part due to sweetheart deals and other selective incentives provided to some multinationals.

"In siding with one of the wealthiest corporations in the world in appealing this ruling, the Irish government is sending a signal that it thinks massive and unfair tax avoidance by multinationals is legitimate."

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