Government to decide on appeal of €13bn Apple tax ruling at emergency cabinet meeting

Government to decide on appeal of €13bn Apple tax ruling at emergency cabinet meeting

The Government will decide today whether to formally appeal the EU's €13bn tax ruling against Apple.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan responded to the ruling by saying the State must respond to attempts by the European Commission to dictate Ireland's tax policy, and by denying any illegal State aid.

"Our tax system is founded on the strict application of the law ... without exception," he said.

Mr Noonan is to seek formal government support at an emergency cabinet meeting today to effectively decline the lucrative windfall and to appeal the decision to the European courts.

If it came down to a straightforward Dáil vote, an appeal against the European Commission’s ruling on Apple’s back taxes would be easily passed.

Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour are all in favour, granting a vote to appeal the ruling easily 100 votes.

However, the decision rests with the Cabinet, where the position is not so straightforward.

The Independent Alliance was last night unable to agree on its position, and is to hold another meeting this morning to finalise its stance.

It is believed their ministers are deeply unhappy at the idea of turning down a €13bn tax payment.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook accused competition chiefs in Brussels of targeting his global brand with laws that did not exist and simultaneously putting every business on the continent at risk.

The tech guru launched the broadside after Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager's landmark ruling into the iPad and iPhone maker's tax affairs found it paid just 1% tax on its European profits in 2003 and 0.005% in 2014.

Two years ago, that worked out at €50 on every €1m profit, she said.

Fianna Fáil and Labour say they will support an appeal, but all other opposition parties have hit out at the plan.

European officials have spent three years looking at whether Apple channeled all of its European sales through Ireland to benefit from tax incentives here.

Ms Vestager dismissed threatened court challenges from Apple and the Government, saying she had a "very concrete case".

She also said that despite initial Government claims to the contrary, Ireland is free to use the tax cash on public services, and it is not limited to repaying the national debt.

Euan Rellie from BDA Partners - a banking firm based in New York - said Apple would have to pay some of the tax bill.

"There's a huge pressure now arund the world on big corporations to be seen to be doing their share, whether or not in their mind they undertook valid tax avoidance measures. There's huge political pressure on them," he said.

Meanwhile, Apple dismissed suggestions that it will have to pay €6bn interest on top of the €13bn tax bill, while it suggested the legal challenge to the case will take several years.

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