Apple tax ruling: EC ‘certain’ decision to charge €13bn is valid

Pierre Moscovici: Apple ‘a company which didn’t pay as much tax as it should have’

European Commissioner for economic and financial affairs, taxation and customs, Pierre Moscovici: Asked whether the Apple decision  constituted an intervention in Irish internal affairs, he said: “Ireland is a country that benefits more than any other . . . from belonging to the EU. It is a champion of growth, and so it must approve of EU rules.” File photograph: Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images

European Commissioner for economic and financial affairs, taxation and customs, Pierre Moscovici: Asked whether the Apple decision constituted an intervention in Irish internal affairs, he said: “Ireland is a country that benefits more than any other . . . from belonging to the EU. It is a champion of growth, and so it must approve of EU rules.” File photograph: Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images

 

Pierre Moscovici, the EU commissioner for economic and financial affairs, has said the commission is “certain” its decision to charge Apple €13 billion in back taxes is legally valid. 

“I hope there will not be an appeal [by the Irish Government],” Mr Moscovici said in Paris yesterday.  “When you appeal, it should be . . . because there is serious doubt. There must not be an appeal just to buy time. That’s our position.”

Asked whether the fine constituted an intervention in Irish internal affairs, Mr Moscovici noted “Ireland is a country that benefits more than any other . . . from belonging to the EU. It is a champion of growth, and so it must approve of EU rules.

“This isn’t about Ireland,” Mr Moscovici continued. “It’s about Apple. It isn’t Irish citizens who are going to pay [the €13 billion]. It’s a company which didn’t pay as much tax as it should have.”

Ireland’s 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate was “not on the table and cannot be,” Mr Moscovici said.  “Commitments have been made on the subject.”

Mr Moscovici said he thought “the Irish farmer or Apple employee will understand that we are talking about a multinational corporation; not ordinary citizens who pay heavy taxes to reduce the deficit.”

‘No particular targets’

The fight against tax evasion demonstrates the “utility and necessity” of the EU,” Mr Moscovici said. Asked whether the Netherlands will be targeted next, he said, “There will be no particular targets, and no particular indulgence. No one will escape. Nothing will stop this revolution of transparency.”

In a letter addressed to the president of the Commission, the commissioner for competition and himself, Mr Moscovici said, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew suggested the EU specifically targeted US companies and acted retroactively. 

“That is not correct.  We are acting on the basis of our rules and we have no particular US targets,” Mr Moscovici said. “But it’s true that there are a certain number of US multinationals.”

Mr Lew’s letter “opens a debate” but does not “threaten reprisals,” Mr Moscovici said. “The US would improve the situation if they themselves took appropriate, strong measures in the fight against tax evasion.”