Exclusive: EU warns Ireland it could expand tax probe beyond Apple - source

Fri Jun 20, 2014 10:37am EDT
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By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission has told Ireland it may investigate more companies as part of a probe into the country's tax practices, after announcing a formal probe into Apple Inc's (AAPL.O: Quote) Irish subsidiaries, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The EU is investigating whether Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have attracted investment and jobs by helping big companies avoid tax in other countries, including EU members.

Corporate profit-shifting has come under the international spotlight in recent years following reports of how companies such as Apple and Google Inc (GOOGL.O: Quote) use complex structures to slash their tax bills.

The Commission suspects Ireland was too lenient in rulings it gave to Apple and which helped the company shield tens of billions of dollars in profit from tax and has asked Dublin for information on the rulings it gave the iPhone maker.

Commission officials said they believed other companies had also benefited from generous treatment and want Ireland to change its approach so companies cannot shift so much profit through Ireland into tax havens.

"The Commission has told Ireland it may go after other companies if it does not fix the problem," the source said, without naming the companies concerned.

Apple has denied receiving selective treatment from the Irish authorities. Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg said any tax rulings they give are in line with international practices.

Pushed by France and Germany, Brussels is keen to clamp down on what it sees as unfair tax competition across the bloc.   Continued...

The Apple logo is pictured at a retail store in the Marina neighborhood in San Francisco, California April 23, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith