Irish cabinet delays decision on Apple tax appeal

Wed Aug 31, 2016 12:43pm EDT
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By Padraic Halpin and Conor Humphries

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland's cabinet could not agree on Wednesday whether to fight a European Commission ruling against Dublin's tax dealings with Apple (AAPL.O: Quote), raising questions over any appeal and the government's stability.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has insisted Dublin would appeal any adverse ruling ever since the EU investigation began in 2014. But after over five hours of discussion, the cabinet adjourned until Friday when the government said a decision would be made.

Dublin has just over two months at the latest to make an appeal against the Commission's ruling that the U.S. tech giant should hand over to Ireland unpaid taxes of up to 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) ruled to be illegal state aid.

Some Irish voters are astounded that the government might turn down a tax windfall that would be enough to fund the country's health service for a year, and this appears to be complicating the cabinet decision whether to fight the ruling.

"Following the discussion, it was agreed to allow further time to reflect on the issues and to clarify a number of legal and technical issues with the Attorney General's Office and with officials," the government press office said in a statement.

Apple, one of many major multinationals whose European headquarters are based in Ireland, has said it will appeal the decision and a failure by the Irish government to join them could undermine the country's pro-business credentials.

Noonan said on Tuesday he "disagreed profoundly" with what he called a bizarre order from the Commission.

However, the Independent Alliance - a group of independent lawmakers represented in the minority coalition government - said on Tuesday that they were reviewing the EU's decision and would need to consult further with Noonan, tax officials and independent experts.   Continued...

Ireland's national flag flies above a statue on O'Connell Street in Dublin in this December 5, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton/File Photo