Finance Minister defends Apple appeal

Michael Noonan said he does not like the way the investigation was carried out and said the decision had damaged Ireland's reputation

Finance Minister defends Apple appeal

Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, 31-01-2017. Image: Sam Boal / RollingNews

The Minister of Finance has launched a new attack on the European Commission over the Apple tax ruling - saying it was driven by a mixture of "tax law and politics."

The Finance Minister said he had no personal problem with European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, but said he does not like the manner in which the investigation was carried out.

Ms Vestager appeared before the committee earlier this week and said the investigation sprang from testimony Apple made to the US Senate in which the company said it had a “tax incentive arrangement” with Ireland.

As a result of the commission’s findings, Ireland is due to collect approximately €13bn (plus interest) in unpaid back-taxes from Apple.

Ms Vestager said she believes the “large, large majority” of the money is due to be paid in Ireland.

Government appeal

Both Apple and the government have appealed the ruling - a decision Minister Noonan strongly defended this afternoon.

He said the decision had damaged the state’s reputation and could affect how Ireland is treated by other jurisdictions.

He also suggested the European Commission had contradicted itself over the question of whether other jurisdictions are entitled to a share of the €13bn payout - arguing that if other countries are owed money, they too must be guilty of providing illegal state aid.

“If a country was to pursue a claim that they were entitled to part of the €13bn well aren’t they opening themselves up then to a similar state aid enquiry?” he asked.

“Because if they didn’t collect the appropriate amount of tax from Apple in their jurisdiction, isn’t that the very essence of state aid?”

Escrow account

The money is due to be lodged into a third-party ‘Escrow’ account pending the outcome of the appeals against the decision, however Minister Noonan confirmed the funds have yet to be transferred - despite the deadline for payment falling due a month ago.

The precise amount owed - with interest included - will have to be calculated by Irish Revenue Commissioners. 

Ms Vestager told the committee earlier this week that she was not worried by the delay in payment because the Irish authorities were moving forward with the “complicated” calculations.

Apple employs more than 5,500 people in Ireland.