Faced with a €13bn windfall after the EU ruling on Apple’s tax affairs, carer Louise O’Reilly knows exactly what the Government should do with the money: Spend it on pensioners who are struggling to get by.
In fact the penalty, which the European Commission has ordered Apple to pay as back taxes to Ireland, would cover the country’s entire annual health-service bill or 6% of its national debt.
However, the Government is to fight the ruling, fearful it might jeopardise its ability to attract multinationals, many of which come to Ireland for its low rates of corporation tax, although a victory in court would mean the Government forgoing Apple’s money.
“They are doing the wrong thing. They don’t care about the normal people,” said Ms O’Reilly, 57, a full-time carer for her diabetic and partially blind mother.
“The money should be spent on the old-age pensioners who worked all their lives and are struggling to survive.”
Ms O’Reilly’s mother pays €10 tax on a monthly pension of €1,050, a higher rate than the EU said Apple’s main Irish unit paid on its profits in 2014.
Gerard Augusta, a 56-year-old security guard from Dublin, said the Government should take Apple’s money and put it into housing and hospitals.
“I think the unions and the workers should be out marching about it, to be honest with you,” he said.
“Apple is paying just €50 on every €1m that they earn.”
Natalie Byrne, 36, a cleaner, also believes the Government should not appeal against the commission’s ruling.
“I understand about the jobs part. We don’t want to see any more jobs go. But we have to live by the rules,” said Ms Byrne.
Other people, too, are worried about how the ruling would affect a country where one worker in 10 is employed by a multinational corporation.
“The big thing is to make sure the big corporations keep coming to Ireland,” said Conor Moran, 30, a software developer.
“As mad as it sounds turning down that kind of money... I think in the long term it might be more beneficial to cosy up to these guys,” he said, referring to the multinationals.
Bríd O’Carolan, a 70-year-old pensioner, said Ireland should defend its low-tax climate.
“I think we have to do whatever we can to get jobs here,” she said.
“We need to fight our own corner.”
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