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How much has Ireland's Apple tax appeal cost so far? Over €3.6 million and counting

The government has spent €1.7m on legal fees this year alone.

Apple store, New York
Apple store, New York
Image: Shutterstock/hans engbers

IRELAND HAS SPENT over €3.6 million on legal costs, consultancy fees and other associated costs to fight the European Commission’s finding that Apple owes the State €13 billion in back taxes.

A briefing note from the Department of Finance reveals that these monies were paid by the Department of Finance, the Revenue Commissioners, the Attorney General and the Chief State Solicitor’s Office to well-known law and accounting firms.

Ireland was found to have given the iPhone maker a selective advantage over a period of more than two decades that allowed it to pay effective tax rates as low as 0.005% on profits from sales in Europe and several other territories.

Appeal case 

The case is focused on two Irish-registered companies, one of which was used as a “head office” despite having no staff and being effectively stateless for tax purposes. Ireland denies the profits assigned to the head office should have been taxed in the Republic.

The government has appealed the ruling.

Details of the payments due, which were racked up between 2013 and 25 August 2017 and seen by TheJournal.ie, show that amounts, some well over €500,000, are being paid out to senior counsel, junior counsel, law firms, tax firms and accountancy firms. Payments have also been made to get technical documents translated.

This time last year, the government was dealing with a crisis over the Apple tax ruling, which forced it to return from summer holidays early in order to debate the issue.

The appeal to the ruling was lodged last year, resulting in Ireland paying some €1,002,124 in fees fighting the case in 2016 alone.

To date, in 2017, the government has paid out €1,775,692 in fees. This is a significant increase from the €182,061 paid out in 2014, and €659,890 paid in 2015.

Yesterday, a report about Ireland’s corporation tax code found there was no preferential tax regime for any one company.

The report, which was carried out by economics lecturer and Irish Fiscal Advisory Council member, Seamus Coffey, was ordered after there were differences in opinions among some independent ministers who sit at the Cabinet table.

While the terms of reference didn’t specifically mention Apple, it looked at Ireland’s tax transparency, and investigated if any one company was given preferential treatment.

“Apple may have provided some of the context to this report but the terms of reference did not pay any particular reference to any particular case and from the work Seamus has done. He concludes that there is no evidence to suggest that Ireland offered any preferential tax treatment to any one company,” Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said on Tuesday.

Sinn Féin finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty, told TheJournal.ie that the latest figures show how much potential for runaway costs the Apple case brings with it.

“This is only a sneak preview of what the final bill will look like. €1.75 million this year alone and it’s only September tells us how the final bill will be in the multiples of the €3.6 million already spent.

“Let’s not forget Apple are entitled to mount their own appeal. That is their right but for Ireland, as a State with a housing and health service crisis, to spend millions in aiding them makes no sense,” he said.

He added:

By engaging in this appeal, the government is writing a blank cheque for lawyers and legal companies to try to overturn a Commission decision that Ireland is owed €13 billion plus. It is a completely unjustifiable use of taxpayer’s money.
The gravy train should be stopped now before it costs the Irish people any more millions of money desperately need in other areas.

Read: Ireland spent €440k on a report defending Apple months before the EU’s scathing tax ruling>

Read: Ireland is looking for someone to hold onto the €15 billion from Apple’s tax bill>

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