Ireland’s stance on the EU’s landmark ruling against Apple, saying the tech giant owed the country €13bn, has finally been made official.
Ireland doesn’t want the EU’s help when it comes to taxation. So much so that Michael Noonan, Ireland’s Minister for Finance, has officially appealed against the Apple ruling.
In August, Europe’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, revealed the culmination of a three-year investigation into Apple’s tax status in Ireland.
Finding that Apple enjoyed a special agreement of sorts with the Irish Government, €13bn was the value Vestager put on the arrangement.
“This selective treatment allowed Apple to pay an effective corporate tax rate of 1pc on its European profits in 2003, down to 0.005pc in 2014,” she said.
Quids in for Ireland, with billions of winnings a boon to a country still operating under a shroud of debt. However, the Irish Government has been firmly in Apple’s corner throughout the case, and ever since.
Yesterday, just one day before the appeal deadline, Noonan acted.
“The government fundamentally disagrees with the European Commission’s analysis and the decision left no choice but to take an appeal,” Noonan told a European Parliament committee in Brussels.
“The tax practices that gave rise to the Apple decision are no longer part of Irish law, but we still think that the competition commissioner is wrong in law, and we’re appealing on those grounds.”
At the time of the decision, Apple CEO Tim Cook called it “maddening”.
“It’s maddening. It’s disappointing. It’s clear it comes from a political base and has no basis in fact,” he said.
Speaking to RTÉ, Cook strongly lauded Apple’s Irish workforce, currently employing some 5,000 people in Cork, with this figure soon to rise to 6,000. There’s also a new data centre in Galway to be built, but some are now concerned future investment could be curtailed should Apple be forced to pay up.
Apple’s relationship with Ireland “has not been diminished one iota”, said Cook, calling the company’s Ireland-based employees “world class”.
“I’m pretty confident that the Government will do the right thing. That is to stand up and fight against this overreach.”
Cook was right.