Ireland will win Apple tax probe ‘quite easily’

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the EU may have to abandon a state aid investigation into the nation’s tax arrangements for Apple.

In September, Apple’s agreements with Ireland were criticised as unfair by EU regulators who said the deals were improperly designed to give the iPhone maker a financial boost in exchange for jobs in the country.

“My legal advice is that the Irish authorities will win the case quite easily and that there isn’t a strong case,” Mr Noonan told reporters in Brussels. “I’m speculating here, but it’s the legal advice I have.”

Mr Noonan said he thought it more likely that the case would be dropped than more investigations started into the tax regime. Apple said last year it did not use “gimmicks’’, even after US senators John McCain and Carl Levin last year labelled Ireland a tax haven because of its arrangements with Apple.

Ireland is already moving to end some tax breaks. Last month, Mr Noonan said the government will phase out a tax shelter used by US companies from Google to LinkedIn.

The ‘double Irish’, which allows companies to avoid paying tax on much of their income, will be closed to new entrants from January. Companies already enjoying the tax break can continue to do so until 2020.


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