Apple again rejects call to appear before finance committee

Technology giant Apple has again rejected an invitation to attend an Oireachtas committee and answer questions over an alleged €13bn in unpaid taxes owed to Ireland.

Criticising Brussels, which ruled Apple owes the money, the company told the Oireachtas finance committee the EU had got it wrong and its attack on Irish sovereignty was “dangerous”.

While the finance committee previously asked Apple chief Tim Cook to appear before TDs and senators, it was agreed to again ask the company to come before members. The second refusal was received this week.

In a letter to the committee, Apple senior director for government, Claire Thwaites defended its tax arrangements, attacked the European Commission, and outlined its commitment to Ireland. “Apple abides by the law and we pay all the taxes we owe wherever we do business. We believe Apple is the largest corporate income taxpayer in Ireland and we never asked for nor ever received, any special deal on the taxes we pay.

“We believe Apple is subject to exactly the same laws as every other business in the country, and Irish Revenue has confirmed many times that they provided no special deal.”

Brussels argues Ireland did not collect enough tax from Apple over a 10-year period and that the company’s tax burden was reduced in what was an alleged breach of EU state aid rules.

The damning ruling against Ireland, originally made in August last, threw the Government into disarray and it was forced to quickly reject it and defend its decision to appeal the ruling, which is ongoing.

Ms Thwaites says that if the Brussels ruling its allowed stand, it would be like changing the rules of a game half-way through a match.

“Taxes play an important role in our society and we believe in paying all the tax we owe on all that we earn.

“However, the European Commission got it wrong, and its attack on Irish sovereignty is dangerous.

“They took unilateral action and retroactively changed the rules, disregarding decades of Irish tax law, US tax law, as well as global consensus on tax policy, that everyone has relied on.

“If the commission’s opinion is allowed to stand, Apple would pay 40% of all the corporate income tax collected in Ireland — this is unprecedented and, far from levelling the playing field, selectively targets Apple,” Ms Thwaites said.

Apple told the committee that the opinion by Brussels that the iPhone maker owed Ireland €13bn had “no basis in fact or law” and it was confident it would be overturned after a hearing of the facts.

But the finance committee heard yesterday that Ireland’s appeal on the EU case could take four years or more.

While there is no specific date, the Government still has to draw down the funds, as agreed with Brussels, and put them in a special holding account.

Apple told the committee in writing that it would continue to invest in Cork and around the country.

Up to 6,000 people are now employed in Ireland, it said The letter added: “Ninety-three percent of our employees in Ireland are EU citizens and 44% are non-Irish nationals.

“Our overall operations in Ireland support a total of 18,000 jobs, and last year we spent close to €200m with Irish companies.”

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