The head of Revenue has thrown Ireland into a fresh Apple legal row, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith of the Irish Examiner.
Revenue chairman Niall Cody has insisted the tech giant's chief executive Tim Cook was "wrong" to claim a tax deal had been struck with this country while under oath in the US.
Mr Cody specifically rejected the claim during a detailed Dáil meeting in which he also said Ireland's tax authorities will seek to retrieve €13bn in unpaid taxes from Apple from January - regardless of the fact Government is appealing the EU ruling.
Speaking during the latest meeting of the Dáil's cross-party public accounts committee, Mr Cody was challenged to clarify Revenue's position on the multi-national crisis which is threatening the credibility of Ireland's tax system.
During a high-profile 2013 US senate committee meeting on his company's controversial international tax situation, Mr Cook said under oath that a "special tax arrangement" had been struck between the firm and Ireland in the 1980s.
When pressed on the matter at the time, Mr Cook clarified under oath - meaning if it is proven to be false or misleading it carries severe legal penalties in the US - "we negotiated a tax rate which meant that our tax was calculated at less than 2%."
However, asked by Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane about Mr Cook's US senate comments that a deal had been struck, Mr Cody twice said the view was "wrong" and "absolutely not correct".
"He is absolutely not correct... That was wrong, and I can't repeat that in any other fashion," Mr Cody said.
Mr Cullinane said the fact "the head of Revenue is saying Tim Cook gave false information, or incorrect information to a senate hearing is very, very serious" and must be addressed.
However, despite PAC chair and Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming suggesting it may have been a misunderstanding, Mr Cody again said no deal has ever existed with Apple.
The claim that Ireland offered Apple preferential corporation tax rates is central to a high-profile EU ruling earlier this year that this country provided the multi-national tech giant with illegal State aid and that the firm now owes Ireland €13bn.
Ireland has rejected the claim, and is appealing the case alongside Apple - meaning this country is turning down €13bn in funds as accepting the money would lead to confirmation Ireland is a tax haven.
The issue is currently the subject of a separate review sought by Independent Government ministers which is due to be completed in the coming weeks.
However, Mr Cody yesterday said regardless of the appeal, Revenue must retrieve the €13bn in funds and has been asked by the EU to provide an exact figure for how much is owed by January 2.