Ireland to join Apple in fight against EU tax ruling
DUBLIN – 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 US 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 US 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”.
“How could any foreign direct investor come into Europe if they thought the valid arrangements they made under law could be overturned a generation later and they be liable to pay back money,” he said at a news conference.
Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe said Dublin stood behind its corporate tax regime as a means of creating jobs.
This ruling has seismic and entirely negative consequences for job creation in the future,” he said.