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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 21 April, 2019

Other countries can take a slice of Apple's €13bn Irish tax bill and it's confusing the government

The European Commission found that the tech giant received illegal state aid from Ireland.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE IRISH GOVERNMENT says the European Commission’s claim that other countries may be able to seize a slice of Apple’s €13 billion tax bill for illegal state aid is ”entirely unprecedented”.

A briefing document prepared by the Department of Finance and circulated to all TDs last night ahead of a Dáil debate today on the Apple tax controversy reiterates the government’s decision to appeal the ruling.

The paper mostly repeated the coalition’s position on the ruling, which is that no illegal aid was provided by the Irish state and that the commission’s decision is based on shaky ground.

One key aspect of this which was highlighted in the document is the fact that other jurisdictions may be able to claim some of the €13 billion the European Commission has ordered Apple to pay Ireland.

In its finding, the commission said that the amount of unpaid taxes to be recovered by the Irish authorities “would be reduced if other countries were to require Apple to pay more taxes on the profits recorded by Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe”.

Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe were the two key companies at the centre of the commission’s investigation.

Other claims

The commission said that other countries may have a case to claim some of the potential fine “if they consider that Apple’s commercial risks, sales and other activities should have been recorded in their jurisdictions”.

It added: “The amount of unpaid taxes to be recovered by the Irish authorities would also be reduced if the US authorities were to require Apple to pay larger amounts of money to their US parent company for this period to finance research and development efforts.”

So far the organisation’s decision has not been published in full, something that has incensed Opposition TDs, so there may be more detail or nuance to this aspect of its ruling.

North South Ministerial Meeting The government is planning to appeal the Commission's decision Source: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

However, it is a point that the Irish government has taken issue with. The briefing document essentially argues that this provision means that, rather than Ireland granting Apple state aid, other jurisdictions did not collect the tax liable to them.

“This is an entirely unprecedented aspect of the state-aid decision,” it said.

“The concept that Ireland would not be judged to have granted illegal state aid if another jurisdiction had exercised taxing rights over the profits concerned is difficult to understand.”

Speaking in the Dáil today Finance Minister Michael Noonan said that the indication by the Commission that other jurisdictions may be able to claim some of the money “points to a clear contradiction at the heart of the European Commission’s decision”.

“While requiring Ireland to recover the tax sums, the Commission is also acknowledging that the sums may in fact be taxable in other jurisdictions,” he said.


The document also notes that Ireland is required to collect the €13 billion from Apple, however it will remain in stasis in a holding account until the result of any appeals are decided.

It said: “The state has a period of two months and 10 days to bring an appeal. The government will now study the decision of the European Commission in consultation with its legal advisors to prepare the grounds for an appeal. The appeal process may take several years.”

“In the government’s view, the European Commission’s decision undermines, impedes and conflicts with the global consensus.”

Written by Paul O’Donoghue and posted on

Read: Gerry Adams says Apple tax appeal ‘has as much credibility as a heap of horse manure’>

More: The Apple tax ruling is being talked about at the G20 summit in China>

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