Ireland-Apple tax probe goes on

A two-year investigation into whether Apple’s tax deal with Irish authorities gave the iPhone maker an unfair advantage will take a lot longer because of the large amount of data involved, the EU antitrust chief said yesterday.

The European Commission accused Ireland in 2014 of dodging international tax rules by letting Apple shelter profits worth tens of billions of dollars from tax collectors in return for maintaining jobs.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said she had asked Ireland for more details, which in turn raised new questions that required a response from the authorities and occasionally from Apple as well.

“The first priority is the quality of the case work,” Ms Vestager told a European Parliament hearing.

“And therefore it is very difficult to make predictions as to when the case will be ready for a decision.”

Both Ireland and Apple have denied that there is any special tax deal.

If the EU rules against Ireland, analysts have estimated the potential bill in back tax at €150m and as much as $8bn (€7bn).

Ms Vestager also said she had asked British tax authorities for details on their back tax deal with Google following a complaint from the Scottish National Party — the SNP.

“We are in contact with the Uk authorities on the Google tax case. It is still early days,” she said.

The British government hailed the £130m (€162.2m) settlement, announced in January, as a major success but the opposition Labour Party dismissed it as “derisory” and other parties also criticised it. 

Google has said it paid all due taxes.


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