Michael Noonan warned of ‘negative implications’ over Apple case

Michael Noonan

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has been warned that a possible EU order to claw back Apple’s unpaid taxes could have “significant negative implications” for Ireland.

Such a ruling, where the tech giant may be ordered to pay billions of euro, could impact on our “reputation” and create “uncertainty” about our tax system.

The warning is made in a 180-page briefing document supplied by senior officials in Mr Noonan’s department.

He faces a number of decisions, with the decision by an EU court expected “soon”.

Firstly, he will have to decide on whether to appeal the case at an EU level. A second issue would be to decide on the possible windfall the exchequer might receive.

A decision would need to be made about “large recovery” amounts, the brief states, if Ireland was sitting on the cash for “several years”.

Officials in the department also indicated a negative outcome could result from an order against Apple,

“in terms of reputation and the creation of uncertainty around our tax system”.

Apple’s tax agreements here have been criticised by EU regulators who claim the deals were improperly created to give Apple a financial boost in exchange for jobs in the country.

Both Apple and the Government say the company has done nothing wrong and has paid the correct amount of taxes it owes.

Elsewhere, the briefing document for Mr Noonan warns that the rental market is under significant pressure, with figures in February showing just 3,600 homes available to rent nationally, the lowest total since the series started in 2006.

“The rise in rents is contributing to the increased risk of homelessness. 3,625 adult individuals used State-funded emergency accommodation nationally during a week in December 2015. The issue of family homelessness is more acute in the Dublin region,” it states.

Given pressures next year, including commitments on restoring public pay, the department says that just €500m “in net fiscal space [is] available for further expenditure increases and/or tax reductions”.

Replacement funding is also needed for any reductions made in future to USC income for the state.

“Given its significance in revenue raising, changes to the USC would likely require the introduction of other discretionary revenue raising measures to fund it,” states the document briefing.

Work is also being undertaken in the department on any financial impacts of a Brexit, states the document.

Focusing on high mortgage charges faced by customers, the department outlines how it will oversee an awareness campaign for consumers to switch providers.

“Funds are available (from AIB and PTSB as part of their restructuring agreements) to fund a public awareness campaign on switching — a tender competition to secure a provider to deliver the first phase of this campaign is currently being prepared,” it states.

Meanwhile, the Government has confirmed it is planning to put at least 40 laws to the Dáil by the end of the year — including 11 before the summer break — due to the logjam created by the post-election impasse.

Bills focusing on suspending water charges, addressing alleged school admissions discrimination, and introducing two weeks’ free paternity leave are all set to be discussed.


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