Taoiseach claims Ireland's reputation unfairly damaged by Apple tax case

Leo Varadkar says Ireland will begin collecting money from Apple "within months"

Taoiseach claims Ireland's reputation unfairly damaged by Apple tax case

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar following an interview with Bloomberg in Davos, Switzerland, 25-01-2017. Image: Bloomberg/Twitter

The Taoiseach has pledged to begin collecting more than €13bn in taxes from Apple "within months."

Leo Varadkar has joined a host of global leaders attending the World Economic Forum in Davos today.

Speaking to Bloomberg TV this morning, he said a special Escrow account has now been set up to hold the funds while legal proceedings are ongoing.

He said the case set could be before the courts for "many years" - adding that government will be contesting it every step of the way.

"We will collect [the money]," he said.

"What we had to do in order to collect it was set up an Escrow account.

"That's been established now and we anticipate collecting money in Quarter Two this year.

"So we will collect the money, but we are absolutely disputing the case.

"The case is not quite a tax case, it is a state aid case; the allegation is that Ireland had some sort of special deal with Apple - and we didn't.

"We believe we can prove that in the courts."

Unfair 

He admitted that Ireland's reputation had been damaged by the case - noting that the narrative around the case "certainly hasn't been helpful."

He insisted however that the country had been unfairly singled out in global media:

"Ireland is a country that has a very clear tax policy; we've had it for a very long time now," he said.

"Our corporate tax rate is 12.5%, it's not going up, it's not going down, and unlike a lot of other countries there are very few get out clauses and exceptions or credits.

"Other countries have a higher tax rate on paper, but actually they collect less - and the OECD figures prove that," he said.

"It certainly has not been helpful and Ireland has got some bad press as a result of it but I don't think that is fair.

"We are really one of the most transparent countries when it comes to tax.

"The fact that we have a rate that is low, simple and transparent."

Corporate tax certainty

He claimed that Ireland "welcomed" the fact that other countries including France and the US were considering a drop in their own tax rates, adding "we don't think that is going to have a major impact on us."

He said the one thing that Ireland can offer is an "absolute certainty" that the corporate tax regime will not change.

"All four major parties in Ireland support that policy," he said.

"So when it comes to investors they get the kind of certainty that they just couldn't get in other countries where politics can swing so much from left to right almost overnight."

Investment

He insisted that inward investment into Ireland "isn't all about tax."

"We are in the single market; We are English speaking; We are in the Euro Zone; We have a really good pool of talent; we have a really good education system," he said.

"There are lots of reasons why our economy is growing and why companies are investing in Ireland and tax is and only ever was one part of that."