Apple appeal is likely to fail, finance committee told

Separate appeals by Ireland and Apple against the EU Commission’s ruling that the iPhone maker must pay back €13bn to the Irish exchequer is likely to fail and is not in the public interest, a leading academic has told TDs and senators.

Jim Stewart, associate professor at the TCD School of Business, told the Oireachtas Finance Committee the appeal by the Government was “high-risk” because it could take years.

He said: “There is a high risk that by appealing this case, a number of EU governments and perhaps more important public opinion in EU countries will interpret this appeal as support for Apple’s tax strategy.

“Apple has deep pockets and this appeal could last several years — a constant reminder to public opinion that Ireland apparently supports Apples tax strategies.”

Prof Stewart said the the commission’s case was very strong and that to appeal it was a mistake.

“Apple and the Irish Government are likely to lose this case but irrespective of the decision, appealing this case is a mistake and is not in the public interest,” he said.

American Chamber of Commerce chief executive Mark Redmond said his business group — which represents the huge number of US multinationals based here — fully supported the Government’s decision to appeal.

He said: “We believe every effort should be made to ensure the EU remains a location where US business can continue to invest with certainty.

“That is why we believe Ireland or any other EU member state simply cannot afford to have its tax policy and administration second-guessed in a retrospective fashion — businesses cannot make investment decisions in such an environment.”

Brian Keegan, director of public policy and tax at Chartered Accountants Ireland, said Irish individuals, domestic companies, and multinationals deserved some degree of certainty in dealing with their tax compliance obligations.

“Otherwise we are all just making up the rules as we go along,” he added.

Oxfam CEO Jim Clerkin said rewriting global tax rules should be tackled by a global body such as the UN.

“We call upon Ireland to stand with developing countries on this issue,” he added.

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