tim-cook-ceoIs Ireland the victim of a “reverse mugging”? The EU Commission has told the Irish government it must collect €13 billion in back taxes, plus interest, from Apple; a record-breaking amount, 40 times larger than any previous tax demand the Commission has levied.

EU officials argue that Apple paid an effective rate of 0.005% on its European sales in 2014, funnelling most of its profits through a “head office” which was was based in no country, had no employees, and no physical premises. According to the European Commission, this amounts to “illegal state aid”, something which is in most cases prohibited by the EU treaties.

Some European politicians have been praising the tax ruling, with Austria’s centre-left chancellor arguing that it is wrong for multinational corporations to pay less tax than a typical Austrian sausage stand. For their part, Irish voters are divided about the move, with many upset that they have had to endure swingeing cuts to public services while big companies apparently pay such low tax rates.

However, the Irish government has said it doesn’t want the money, and is appealing the decision. Apple, which employs 22,000 people in Europe, has warned that the Commission’s decision violates Ireland’s tax sovereignty, and could harm the EU economy.

Should Apple be forced to pay the Irish government more tax? Is the European Commission interfering in the tax sovereignty of an EU Member State? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Mike Deerkoski

78 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Ivan Burrows


    If your intention is to massively reduce inward investment & make yet more millions of people unemployed its a great idea.

  2. avatar
    Massimo Piermattei

    I’d like to overturn the question. Should the Eu have a federal taxation on those fields to prevent unfair competition among MS that could worsen their relationships? The problem it’s as if in a MS one Region could change taxation to attract investments…it is unthinkable, is it?

  3. avatar
    Tony Muñiz

    It should be obligated, like all small businesses do, to pay the taxes where it makes it’s sales. The reason they are fiscally located in Ireland is because they not only pay less taxes, but allows fiscal evasion through fraudulent practices. For example, Apple has lets say 100 million in sales in Spain and it bills its Spanish affiliate through Ireland and other offshore companies and amount similar to it’s sales and avoid paying taxes. At times they even declare a loss, actually getting money back from the tax man. It is a tax fraud. We all know that if they have such a huge markup on their products, selling hundreds of millions, they are not doing it at a loss. We small businesses can’t do that as we have no offshores fraudulently billing us above sales costs. And they do this in every EU country and US.

  4. avatar

    Everybody must play by the rules, no more Greek style scheming and treachery on the expense of others.

  5. avatar
    Xavier Otenblaaum

    its a bit of a passed topic, but yes. lets have some actual capitalism for once, with true competition and real consequences in a level playing field. enough with favoritism and state guaranteed risks. let governments do what you do best, social protection and ensuring a level starting point for all people.

  6. avatar
    Jimi Sowa

    The oldest problem of communist is how to steal somebody money and avoid to be called thief. Now the European Union is Communist thief and Rotschild crime group is its chieftain, Soros is their frontmen and the victim is Apple.

    • avatar

      Really? The victim is apple? So you think the money they’ve avoided paying in taxes are directly transferred to their workforce and/or customers then? Because I got the impression they used that money to line the pockets of shareholders and to spend on research that gave them an unfair edge over competitors so they could overcharge for “the next big thing” and sue anybody who has anything similar to them. Did you know they actually tried to patent the speech bubble?

  7. avatar
    André Branco Pereira

    I think we should not rush away companies that create jobs and innovate like Apple. The EU comission should make a deal with Apple so they pay not the 14b but 5/6b or so. Then we should have a corporate tax harmonization with a low corporate tax rate. We have to attract this companies!

    • avatar

      That will only work if it goes hand in hand with high wages and large scale employment. If companies only pay a poultry sum of tax then their workers need to be able to afford to foot the bill out of their earnings. You also need some reason for everyone in the country to not simply register as a business and rent their labour out to a company in order to get a monumental tax benefit. Ergo, you’d need a minimum wage around €20 an hour. Unless ofcourse you plan to make up the deficit in budget through other means, like invading another nation and stripping it of all value, or simply seizing private sector properties and nationalising them without some form of compensation. Or by begging off the EU to keep the roads and schools that Apple need to operate open and In a reasonable condition. Since the EU contributions/handouts are directly affected by a member states revenues, allowing Apple to pay next to nothing in tax, thus getting Apple to set up their EU base in Ireland, but without the inherent revenue benefits Ireland is in fact cheating the other member states. By paying less into the EU/getting a bigger payout from the EU than they would have if Apple paid the right tax.

  8. avatar
    Dimitris Orfanoudis

    Ιf APPLE it doesnt invested in Ireland then ireland will be worst than Greece in the level of the economy.. Ι am sure that some officials in Brussels are out of their mind…

    • avatar

      Some scheming, treacherous people always feel that it is their right to fool people, promise everything and then break the rules for their purpose.

  9. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Tricky one…. If Apple pays then it might relocate to some more “willing” countries … And there are plenty… Yet it is only fair that taxes that are due, they should be paid, otherwise how can the Irish government ask from pensioners to pay household ad water charges? Perhaps Apple should do the right thing and discuss a settlement with the Irish government that will please all parties.. The EU, Apple and the Irish tax payers… Perhaps not pay the full amount, rather agree to pay part of it and pay higher taxes from now on…

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Christos Mouzeviris
      Good point about the likelihood of Apple relocating if it was forced to pay tax.

      If Apple did move, it would not relocate to another EU country – the net result would be thousands of jobs lost in Ireland.

      As you said, it’s a difficult question…

    • avatar

      @Tarquin, if Apple doesn’t operate from within the EU they’ll be compelled to pay import duties for everything they sell in the EU.

    • avatar

      Tax isn’t paid upfront. It’s worked out after the fact, there’s no way Apple should be allowed to get away with loophole tax dodging, neither for that matter should any company, organisation or person. David Cameron made an absolutely valid argument that tax dodging through foreign countries needs to be stopped. It was then found that he was guilty of this himself, but I don’t want to take away from what is one of the very few things I agreed with him about.

  10. avatar
    Henrique Saias

    This stupid concept would mean the end of taxes on profits. For large companies only!!!!
    Small businesses create 97% of jobs, but Apple’s ridiculous 3.000 jobs deserve huge profits tax exception?
    This is not Capitalism! This is a new form of Comunism where some companies control governments to eliminate competition.
    My company can’t compete with Apple because we pay more taxes than Apple does.

  11. avatar
    Vlad Spatariu

    As far as I’m aware, the Irish government made a special deal with Apple in order to entice it to move to Ireland. If I’m not mistaking, the original deal should be made. If we’re talking about phantom companies and tax evasion, then sure.

  12. avatar
    Paul X

    Putting aside the morality of Apple and their tax evasion just what exactly has it got to do with the EU? Yet again they are trying to interfere in something they do not have a remit for by vague application of some unrelated treaty. This time its trying to involve itself in a sovereign states taxation of a private company by using he excuse it amounts to “illegal state aid”
    Not long ago they were trying to take over Norway’s oil industry by quoting some self proclaimed Health and Safety legislation.
    It really is not difficult to see the whole institution’s ambitions extend to power grabbing and control over everything

  13. avatar
    Henrique Saias

    Please note that taxes fall on profits only. Taxes don’t affect investment. Investment creates new jobs, not profit.
    (this is why the 1% wealth hoarding kills economy).
    If Apple invests and creates 3,000 jobs in Ireland, that is because Apple needs those workers to make business.
    Saying “we don’t create jobs if we pay taxes” is a distortion of economic sense, used only to sell the idea to the ignorant, confused masses.
    Anyway, what Europe should say to Apple is “no taxes, no sales.”.
    That’s why TTIP would be a disaster to Europe. We would lose any power of negotiation and become hostages of a few companies that want to avoid real Capitalism (competition) and avoid paying taxes.
    This would lead to the destruction of economy.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Papéis Do Panamá
      More like problem started…

    • avatar

      Are Ireland satisfied with the deal though? Or is this just another example of politicians making under the table deals for their own ends? Has Ireland as a people gotten to vote on if they feel it’s right for a company to not pay their fair share when the people of Ireland are being taxed more? No they haven’t.

  14. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    If Apple is respecting the deal that was made, this is a non-issue. If Apple has finagled its way out of the deal, then nail them!
    Is this so complicated?

  15. avatar
    Paulo Granadeiro

    No, they should leave the country and EU for good and than if they want to compete with other “small” companies like SamSung, they must pay the dame taxes !!! Very simple !

  16. avatar
    Harris Manteniotes

    yes ofcourse, we shouldnt have to even debate about that….when you get profit from a market, the law says you should pay taxes…some people are obviously above the law , but this is OLD NEWS..

  17. avatar
    Panos Kontogiannis

    There are antidumping laws preventing countries to “export” their problems to others. Creating tax heavens is a form of government subsidies offering unfair advantages to private companies. Europe should regulate members tax laws.

  18. avatar
    TC Emrah


  19. avatar
    TC Emrah

    They made 230 billion $ benefits in european market and they pay only 0.005 % tax on benefits made in europe… If a country like germany of france sanctionned it , apple would not have mind it . But when europe urges apple to pax , they take it seriously… that s why I am for federal europe . European countries do not have any sovereignity against multinational companies which steal our money after making huge profits… but together we are stronger ! EUROPEAN FEDERATION OF NATION STATES :)

  20. avatar
    Mary Mather-Leahy

    Ireland would never get their paws on it the greedy cats in Brussels have that earmarked for the ECB kitty

  21. avatar
    Ivan Vikalo

    Duh obviously! What a stupid question to ask …. should taxpayers stop paying their taxes as well!?

  22. avatar
    David Estêvão

    Ireland isn’t playing fare if EU rules set a higher minimum corporation tax. Benefit for the small country Ireland who gets employment and technology, loss to big countries Germany France who are unable to produce good quality consumer electronics.

  23. avatar
    Vasco Almeida

    Of course. Taxes should be due in every country. International companies are not exempt.

  24. avatar
    Ricardo Garcia Pereira

    Of course not!!! BTW, can my architecture office get the same beneficts?
    Or do I need to be a giant milionaire to get tax free…
    Shame on this system.

  25. avatar
    Jason Picci

    Anybody as an individual or a small company who agrees with paying taxes into this Euro-system Ponzi scheme is a sucker masochist who likes to take it up the rear.

  26. avatar
    Dimitrios Chologounis

    Yes. The .0.1 is not tax it is stealing. The same model used the UK to their colonies that is why there are no colonies any more

  27. avatar
    Marco Peel

    Companies should pay tax where they make their sales. Unless we all play by the same rules, there is no such thing as a free market. It is not so much Apple though as the Irish government that should be fined for enabling tax fraud elsewhere.

  28. avatar
    Peter Castermans

    Alll multinationals should be forced to pay more tax. Since decennia there is a race tot the bottem concerning taxes for big companies. And the result is clear, less investments in infrastructure, less money for social security and more taxes for the citizens.

  29. avatar

    Is there any reason to exist that question? Of course they must pay../

  30. avatar
    Philip Spentzuris

    Without a doubt. Look at the massive tax evasions that happened in Greece,,,, Siemens et al!!!! Absolute bullshit that companies can do business in a country without complying with tax laws!!!

  31. avatar

    On this issue i agree with brussels. But on the other hand its an irish issue and only an irish issue and should be dealt with as such.
    Apple or Samsung or any other corporate should pay the same as as we all do. Favors are created by lobbyists, sleasy politicians . The irish are worried that apple will move on to another tax free haven, so what let them.
    But if apple has to pay and then removes itself from ireland then apple sales should be banned in all of europe. Lets see if the irish govt has teeth and really works for the public instead of the corps.
    All big corporations whom pay no tax with the help of sleasy politicians should be banned form doing business in the eu .!
    They make billions and billions of over the backs of hard working folks , pay your share or sell your products elsewhere.!!

  32. avatar
    Jeremy Bornstein

    Does Apple use public universities for educating its future workers and public roads for its logistics? Ofc they should pay tax.

  33. avatar

    so the rest of us Europeans we’re all stupid aren’t we? We cannot give state aids to attract new business, we cannot lower the taxes for national or foreign businesses because this would be unfair competition. We are a special kind of idiots, aren’t we? Let’s give all the foreign enterpises who invest in Italy a tax free period of 25 years and let’s see what happens.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      You have it in one Marco, welcome to the inward looking protectionist club called the EU
      Thank god we’re on the way out and can return to attracting business our own way

  34. avatar
    catherine benning

    The CEO’s and Accountants in any company that does this should be charged with fraud and like the American, Madoff, be Jailed.

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