Irish government ‘sold itself to companies’ - claims McCann

An Apple iPhone beside a tax return form as the tech giant faces a huge tax bill following an EU probe into its 'sweetheart deal' with the Irish Government.

An Apple iPhone beside a tax return form as the tech giant faces a huge tax bill following an EU probe into its 'sweetheart deal' with the Irish Government.

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The Irish Government “sold itself to multinational capitalism years ago and now insists on staying bought”, Foyle People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann has claimed.

Mr McCann was speaking after the European Commission ordered global company Apple to pay 13 billion euro in taxes to the Irish exchequer.

Foyle People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann. DER1216GS005

Foyle People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann. DER1216GS005

The Irish government and the company are set to appeal the ruling, after refuting the EC’s findings and insisting that they have always operated within the normal tax parameters in Ireland.

The Cabinet is due to meet in Dublin this morning to discuss the EC decision that Ireland granted undue tax benefits of up to €13bn to Apple.

The south’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan has disagreed with the Commission’s ruling and is expected to ask for consent to challenge it through the European Courts, a process some commentators have said could take years.

Mr McCann however has claimed: “A century after the Rising, Dublin ministers resent being urged to behave like they’re sovereign. Thus does capitalism make clowns of its most abject adherents.

“In the North, the EU comes from a different direction to tell the Executive what to do - demanding the introduction of water charges. We shall see whether the Executive stands firm or backs down.

“The issues may appear different, North and South. But the fundamentals are the same.

“The EU says that allowing companies like Apple to go tax-free confers a competitive advantage – and that’s a distortion of the market.

“Similarly, the EU says that supplying water for free in one jurisdiction is a distortion of the market.

“People Before Profit says neither multinational capitalism nor Brussels bureaucracy! The people must decide these things.

“In the South, we are at the forefront of the fight for the taxes to be collected and used for the betterment of the people. In the North, we will lead mass resistance if Ministers crumple under EU pressure and try to bring water charges in.”

A statement from Mr Noonan’s department said yesterday: “Ireland’s position remains that the full amount of tax was paid in this case and no State aid was provided. Ireland did not give favourable tax treatment to Apple. Ireland does not do deals with taxpayers.

“Following discussion with the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance will now seek Cabinet approval to appeal the Commission decision to the European Courts. Ireland 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.”

Apple currently employs thousands of people in Ireland.

The company, in a statement issued following the ruling, said: “Over the years, we received guidance from Irish tax authorities on how to comply correctly with Irish tax law — the same kind of guidance available to any company doing business there. In Ireland and in every country where we operate, Apple follows the law and we pay all the taxes we owe.

“The European Commission has launched an effort to rewrite Apple’s history in Europe, ignore Ireland’s tax laws and upend the international tax system in the process. The opinion issued on August 30 alleges that Ireland gave Apple a special deal on our taxes. This claim has no basis in fact or in law.

“We never asked for, nor did we receive, any special deals. We now find ourselves in the unusual position of being ordered to retroactively pay additional taxes to a government that says we don’t owe them any more than we’ve already paid.

“The Commission’s move is unprecedented and it has serious, wide-reaching implications. It is effectively proposing to replace Irish tax laws with a view of what the Commission thinks the law should have been. This would strike a devastating blow to the sovereignty of EU member states over their own tax matters, and to the principle of certainty of law in Europe. Ireland has said they plan to appeal the Commission’s ruling and Apple will do the same. We are confident that the Commission’s order will be reversed.

“At its root, the Commission’s case is not about how much Apple pays in taxes. It is about which government collects the money.

“Taxes for multinational companies are complex, yet a fundamental principle is recognized around the world: A company’s profits should be taxed in the country where the value is created. Apple, Ireland and the United States all agree on this principle.”