'No doubt' many countries would claim part of Apple's €14bn in back taxes, says Donohoe

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe says he has “no doubt at all” a number of countries will lay claim to parts of the €14bn Ireland collected in back taxes from Apple if the Government were to lose the legal appeal it launched against the EU almost three years ago.

The Government has collected the back taxes the Commission said in August 2016 that Apple owed Ireland after ruling the company struck a sweet-heart tax deal over many years that breached EU State-aid rules.

The original ruling involved €13.1bn in back taxes, which with accruing interest has grown to just over €14bn, and the money is held in an account until a European court hears the Government’s appeal.

That hearing will probably take place and be concluded before the summer, Mr Donohoe told the Oireachtas Finance Committee.

The Government launched its appeal because it believes the ruling is wrong.

It has repeatedly said there was no deal done by the Irish tax authorities with Apple that breached State-aid rules. Ireland had followed EU rules at all times, he said.

Asked by Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty whether he had plans to use the €14bn, Mr Donohoe said that if the Government were to lose the appeal that Ireland would inevitably face claims from “multiple jurisdictions” around the world who would lay claim to the billions in the account.

The 2016 ruling was initiated by Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

The commission had initially threatened to sue Ireland for what it saw as it delaying collecting the money from Apple before dropping the legal action last September.

Separately, the Government has continued to fight off commission plans for an EU digital tax.

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