EU to defend Apple tax decision on Irish agreement in court

Margrethe Vestager, EU competition commissioner, has made clear that she plans to defend the decision to order Apple to pay €13bn (£11bn) in back tax to the Irish government, which is the subject of an appeal by both the technology firm and Ireland, and has indicated she hopes publish the specific details of the ruling soon

During a debate in the European parliament, Vestager told MEPs she acknowledged that Apple and the Irish government have a right to appeal. ‘But we have taken a robust decision and we will defend it in court’, she said.

MEPs demonstrated wide support for the European Commission’s state aid verdict that the tax benefits that Ireland granted to Apple, enabling it to pay substantially less tax than other businesses over many years, were illegal.

Spanish MEP Pablo Zalba Bidegain said: ‘We must say loud and clear that the party is over. Although multinationals create jobs they must pay taxes and we need a consolidated tax basis.’

Vestager also said she is keen for the specifics of the Irish ruling to be known: ‘Once agreed by Ireland, we will publish our decision for all to see and I hope that this can happen as fast as possible. The published information may also be relevant to tax authorities in other jurisdictions,’ she said.

She added: ‘If the US tax authorities consider that Apple should have paid a higher contribution for research and development to its US parent, it could lead to a higher taxable amount in the US.’

The competition commissioner called for more transparency on the basic data of multinational companies, saying that such information should become public, in a reference to the Commission’s recent proposals for public country-by-country reporting of staff numbers, profits made and taxes paid.

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