Belfast Telegraph

EU ruling on Apple's tax affairs is delayed

Sarah Collins and Peter Flanagan

The EU is not expected to make a decision on Apple's tax affairs before Christmas, the Republic's Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said.

Brussels has accused Ireland of striking a tax arrangement with Apple that was based on keeping jobs here but which gave the company an advantage that amounted to state aid and went against international guidelines.

If the EU finds against Apple, the company could be forced to pay billions of euro worth of tax to the Irish exchequer. The Irish Government, however, has repeatedly said there is no case to answer.

Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager had been expected to make a ruling on the matter before the end of this year, but that now seems unlikely.

Speaking in Brussels at a meeting of Eurozone finance minsters, Mr Noonan said the probe has now been further delayed.

"It looked as if we were heading for a decision before Christmas. And what has happened since is we have a signal from the relevant commission - commissioner Vestager's commission - that they want further information, prompted by the information which we gave them already," he said. "So they have written to us now looking for that information and we'll provide them with that.

"It'll take us two weeks or so to put it together. But then we're getting very close to Christmas when they take that into account, so I don't foresee a decision before Christmas now," he added.

Last month, the European Commission announced in a separate ruling that tax advantages granted to Fiat in Luxembourg and to Starbucks in The Netherlands are illegal. The Republic has come under pressure for its tax structures and how big companies make use of them. It has attracted companies with its lower rate of corporation tax of 12.5% - a rate which is set to be introduced in Northern Ireland in April 2018.

Belfast Telegraph