Ireland to join Apple in fight against EU tax ruling

Fri Sep 2, 2016 12:57pm EDT
 
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By Padraic Halpin and Conor Humphries

(Reuters) - Ireland's cabinet agreed on Friday to join Apple in appealing against a multi-billion-euro back tax demand that the European Commission has imposed on the iPhone maker, despite misgivings among independents who back the fragile coalition.

The Commission's ruling this week that the U.S. tech giant must pay up to 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) to Dublin has angered Washington, which accuses the EU of trying to grab tax revenue that should go to the U.S. government.

With transatlantic tensions rising, the White House said President Barack Obama would raise the issue of tax avoidance by some multinational corporations at a summit of the G20 leading economies in China this weekend.

Paradoxically, Ireland is determined not to accept the tax windfall, which would be equivalent to what it spent last year on funding its struggling health service.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has insisted Dublin would fight any adverse ruling ever since the European Union began investigating Apple's Irish tax affairs in 2014, arguing that it had to protect a tax regime that has attracted large numbers of multinational employers.

On Wednesday, he failed to persuade a group of independent lawmakers, whose support is vital for the minority government, to agree to fight the ruling by European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager that Apple's low tax arrangements in Ireland constitute illegal state aid.

However, he won them over when the cabinet met again on Friday.

Noonan said the retroactive nature of the EU ruling was "little short of bizarre and outrageous".   Continued...

 
A 3D printed Apple logo is seen in front of a displayed European Union flag in this illustration taken September 2, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration