Apple hasn’t gone away, you know

Cook’s clarification raises more queries

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer whose   comments of Tuesday night - which amount to a significant clarification - should provide the Government with a way out of   their dilemma over taxation. Photographer: Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer whose comments of Tuesday night - which amount to a significant clarification - should provide the Government with a way out of their dilemma over taxation. Photographer: Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg

 

Tim Cook’s reverse ferret on Apple’s tax deal with the Irish Government is as welcome as it was unexpected. Apple’s assertions to the contrary last week - under oath to a senate committee - is causing all sorts of problems for the Irish Government at home; in the US and also in Europe.

So concerned is the Government that it has launched a charm offensive to counter the reputational damage, with minsters and officials taking to to the airwaves across the globe to deny that there was any deal. Also included in the response is a letter to committee chairman Senator Carl Levin to set the record straight.

What to put in the letter - apart from a certificate of Irish heritage for the senator - was itself the cause for further anxiety. It would not necessarily be the best of ideas to tell the chairman of the committee that Apple, and its chief executive, may have misled him when they told him the company had a tax deal with Ireland.

Mr Cook’s comments of Tuesday night - which amount to a significant clarification - should provide the Government with a way out of that dilemma, should they still feel it is necessary to put something on the record. .

What prompted Mr Cook to go out of his way to to clarify this point yesterday is an open question. it also raises many more questions, such is the nature of these things.

The main one being, that if Apple did not have a special deal that it enabled them to pay less than 12.5 per cent corporation tax, what did they have? One thing that has not gone away is that it paid substantially less than the headline rate. Mr Cook did not shed much light on this issue, although in fairness he was not pressed on it.

The answer to this question will continue to be of interest to our European partners and the wider multinational community here who no doubt want to be sure they are getting the same sort of non-deal that Apple have .