Tim Cook meets Vestager as Apple tax decision looms

Meeting held as Enda Kenny defends Irish tax arrangements in Davos interview

Enda Kenny during a Davos  interview in which he rejected the idea that Ireland was a tax haven for Apple. Photograph: Bloomberg

Enda Kenny during a Davos interview in which he rejected the idea that Ireland was a tax haven for Apple. Photograph: Bloomberg

 

Apple chief executive Tim Cook had a private meeting with the European Union’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager as EU regulators close in on a final decision into the company’s Irish tax deals.

The Brussels meeting came on the same day as Taoiseach Enda Kenny described as “false and baseless” claims that Ireland is a tax haven for the company. Apple and the European Commission both confirmed the talks took place but did not elaborate on what was discussed.

It has been suggested that the State may eventually be forced to recoup billions of euros in unpaid taxes from Apple.

The investigation is the most high profile aspect of an EU crackdown on tax deals between countries and multinationals that has also embroiled companies including Starbucks and a unit of Fiat Chrysler in the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

The EU is examining whether Ireland gave Apple a special tax deal in return for a pledge to create jobs here.

‘Reputational Damage’

“As far as Ireland is concerned and we’ve been very clear about this - we’ve dealt with all the issues about reputational damage, about comments that Ireland was some sort of tax haven which was completely without foundation and utterly untrue,” Mr Kenny said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday.

“From our perspective we’re very clear that our Revenue Commissioners have never done specific deals or a favorable deal with any particular company.”

Regulators have sought more information in the investigation and are expecting responses within the next few weeks, raising concerns that after a year and a half they still aren’t clear how the investigation will end.

“If the commission follows its own precedent” from recent cases “and effectively requires Ireland to impose the statutory tax rate, Apple will be looking at around ten percentage points of tax on substantially more than a hundred billion dollars of profit from a decade of sweetheart deals,” said Alex Cobham, director of research at the Tax Justice Network.