Apple tax investigation has cost us almost €2m to date

The investigation arose after it became apparent Apple wasn't tax resident anywhere in the world

The government has paid out €1.85 million in legal costs in connection with the EU’s investigation into state aid provided to Apple.

In August of last year the European Commission announced that the Irish government had provided “undue tax benefits” to the multinational that amounted to €13 billion.

The investigation started in June of 2014, but had started on a preliminary basis the year before when European officials first made requests for information from Apple.

The first payments by the government in connection with the case were made in 2013, and amounted to €4,113.

In 2014 payments came to €182,060; in 2015 the figure was €658,889; and last year the total amount paid was just over €1 million euro.

Government response

The figures were provided by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan in response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin Deputy Pearse Doherty.

In his response, Noonan stated that the government “disagrees profoundly with the Commission’s analysis” and that the decision will be challenged before the European Courts.

“This is necessary to defend the integrity of our tax system; to provide tax certainty to business; and to challenge the encroachment of EU state aid rules into the sovereign Member State competence of taxation.”

Previously there had been objections from the government to the ruling on the grounds that it meant Ireland would have to act as a tax collector for the rest of the EU.

Under investigation

Appearing before the Oireachtas Finance Committee yesterday, the European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager – who was responsible for the investigation into Apple – stated that she believed the bulk of the unpaid tax bill was owed in Ireland.

The money paid out by the government has included all legal costs, consultancy fees and other costs associated with the investigation, with the money coming from the Department of Finance, the Revenue Commissioners, the Attorney General’s Office and the Chief State Solicitor’s Office.

In the findings of the investigation, Vestager said that the company had an “effective corporate tax rate of 1% on its European profits in 2003 down to 0.005% in 2014”.

The investigation by the EU, published in December, ordered the Irish government to recover the unpaid tax for that period.

This includes interest on the original €13 billion amount, which Vestager yesterday told the Finance Committee could come fall somewhere between €1.5 billion and €6 billion.

The EU investigation into Apple’s tax arrangements was sparked by a 2013 U.S. Senate committee hearing that criticised the tech giant for not appearing to be tax resident anywhere in the world.