Apple tax affair is not slam dunk the Government says it is

Cantillon: if State’s defence is watertight, why did the European Commission establish a formal investigation?

The Government’s position on Apple’s tax is that the rules were not broken; Ireland has nothing to hide; the State has an arguable defence; Apple got no special deal; and our tax system is transparent. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

The Government’s position on Apple’s tax is that the rules were not broken; Ireland has nothing to hide; the State has an arguable defence; Apple got no special deal; and our tax system is transparent. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

 

It was to the chagrin of the troika of Cabinet members at yesterday’s announcement of the 400 new Paypal jobs – Enda Kenny, Brendan Howlin and Richard Bruton – that they were repeatedly asked about the investigation by the European Commission into Apple’s tax affairs in this country under state aid rules.

The Taoiseach and his two Ministers may not have wanted to be asked questions about the investigation, but they had their answers prepared. Each sang from the same hymn sheet – the rules were not broken; Ireland has nothing to hide; the State has an arguable defence; Apple got no special deal; our tax system is transparent; there is nothing to see here, now move on... Were it only so cut and dried.

A fundamental point that the Ministers’ mantra failed to address is that the commission clearly must already know what the State’s defence is, yet they have so far refused to accept it.

Last week’s move by the commission to open a formal inquiry into the issue was not a snap decision. It came following a year-long preliminary investigation, sparked when Apple told a US Senate committee it had received a special tax deal to set up in Ireland.

For almost 12 months, the commission has been seeking documents from the State, asking for explanations and establishing a prima facie case.

As part of that process, the Government clearly must have communicated its side of the story. If the State’s defence is so obvious and watertight, why did the Commission still go ahead and establish a formal investigation anyway?

One plausible explanation is that the commission doesn’t buy what the Government has been telling it.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.